Financial Incentives and Communications have Greatest Influence on Wellness Programs


 To help employers understand the strategies that have the biggest impact on sustained employee engagement for their workforce health programs, the Vitality Group conducted an in-depth statistical analysis of 110 employers and 400,000 members. Vitality found that companies with the highest level of employee engagement have in place strong incentive and communication strategies.

Engaged employees are critical to an organizations’ efforts to build and sustain a healthy, productive and cost-efficient workforce. When employees are involved in managing their health — productivity and performance improve – impacting healthcare costs and financial success.

“Since joining Vitality we’ve effectively used incentives and technology to encourage employees to participate and engage in the program,” said Gerri Burruel, Vice President for McKesson. “We’re encouraged by the results including a health assessment completion rate of 73.6 percent, with employees participating in an average of 10 activities monthly.”

The study found value in the following strategies to help employers optimize their programs to drive health behaviors:

  • Incentives – Requiring members to work to achieve their incentives is the most impactful way to drive long term engagement, with strategies that encourage involvement over longer periods of time being the most effective.
  • Communication – The types of communication, frequency, and mediums used play a critical role in driving initial and long term engagement. Without good communication, the most technologically, clinically, scientifically advanced program will fail.
  • Immediate rewards – People seek immediate gratification and have biases that influence decision making. Programs that increase engagement offer opportunities for participants to immediately reward themselves via mechanisms embedded within the program that are compelling to motivate members, such as Apple Watch.
  • Group support – Relationships influence health. Involving family (spouses specifically) within the wellness program can drive increased engagement. The same can be said for the impact a network of wellness ambassadors can have on driving engagement in the workplace.
  • Technology Wearable devices are gaining traction and are no longer just for younger or more affluent populations. Behavioral change and increased engagement is associated with peoples’ use of devices and a correlation to employers who offer a device subsidy.

“As employers continue to focus on improving the health of their workforce, almost 79 percent offer some form of wellness and health improvement programs,” said Tal Gilbert, Vitality USA CEO. “Our research examined the types of incentives and employer support that have the biggest impact on health to ensure we’re designing programs that promote engagement, reduce health risks, and help to improve employee wellbeing and job performance.”

Vitality is hosting a complimentary webinar with Michael O’Donnell, founding editor of the American Journal of Health Promotion, and Tal Gilbert, health promotion actuary and Vitality CEO, on March 17 at 2 p.m. ET to dive further into the results of the engagement study and share their vision for the future of wellness. You can register here.

Additional details on the engagement study can found here.

About Vitality Group

Vitality changes the economics of healthcare by integrating expertise in wellness and well-being, insurance, and technology to change the behaviors that lead to poorer health. Uniquely monetizing health in ways that actively encourage engagement in healthier lifestyles, Vitality provides benefits from day one to members, employers, and society. Vitality brings a global perspective through successful partnerships with employers of all sizes (U.S. corporate wellness offering) and best-in- class insurers around the world, in countries including the United States (John Hancock), Canada (Manulife), United Kingdom (Vitality Health, Vitality Life), Europe (Generali), South Africa (Discovery), China (Ping-an), Singapore (AIA), Australia (AIA) and Japan (Sumitomo Life). Drawing on behavioral economics, Vitality supports, guides and incentivizes individuals to improve their health, and then prices their risk dynamically over time based on their engagement in the Vitality Program. This shared value insurance model results in material benefits shared between the employer (lower health claims), insurer (more profits), members (greater health and financial rewards) and society (a healthier, more productive workforce).

Vitality Group is a member of Discovery Ltd., a global financial service organization and pioneer of the Shared-value Insurance model. The Vitality program currently serves more than 4 million members in 14 countries around the world with plans to launch in an additional ten markets over the next two years.

For more information about Vitality Group, please visit and follow on Twitter: @VitalityUSA.

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