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Those who need wellness most respond to incentives

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Financial incentives are a crucial factor in bringing unhealthy workers into workplace wellness programs, according to a new analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

EBRI analyzed the impact that financial incentives had on the first-time participants in a large employer’s wellness program. Researchers looked at those who completed a health risk assessment or biometric screening in the two or three years after financial incentives were offered to workers to participate. Among the report’s findings:

Demographics: Older men were most likely to respond to incentives. Offering financial incentives appeared to increase wellness participation by about 12% among men age 50 and older—more than any other group.

Health status: Incentives appeared attract employees who were in generally poorer health, with relatively high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. That’s good news, because wellness programs are most effective when they target those kinds of risk factors.

The takeaway, according to EBRI: Financial incentives for wellness program participation are a good investment. Monetary rewards attract the kinds of employees who can benefit most from a well-designed wellness program.

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