Research: Despite High Demand, the Majority of Companies Don’t Offer Wellness Rewards

July 17, 2018

Hawk Incentives, a Blackhawk Network business that provides rewards and incentives solutions, today announced the findings of new research* it commissioned on employee wellness programs. According to the study, the majority of employees surveyed who are eligible for wellness programs choose to participate and enjoy earning rewards through them. Yet despite the popularity of wellness programs, most of the surveyed employees are not offered them through their employers.

The survey, which focused on the presence and impact of different types of employee reward programs at organizations across the country, also identified what existing wellness programs are doing right and where there is room for improvement.

“Employee satisfaction and engagement are two important components to a company’s success. Reward programs are specifically designed to encourage both, and our research uncovered a pervasive, specific desire for and interest in employer-sponsored wellness programs,” said Theresa McEndree, vice president of marketing, Hawk Incentives. “This measurable demand demonstrates an opportunity for employers to incorporate wellness rewards alongside other efforts to help make employees feel valued, that their accomplishments are recognized and that their employer cares about them. Successful wellness programs also have shown to benefit employers beyond morale improvement; they can help boost productivity, reduce absenteeism and lower insurance costs.”

The research findings were based on a survey of more than 1,400 American adults on their attitudes and preferences toward specific workplace reward programs and how these rewards keep them engaged at work. Key wellness program findings include:

  • People want wellness rewards and want to be engaged in wellness programs. Sixty-four percent of the employees surveyed who are currently offered a wellness program opted to participate and an additional 15 percent are automatically enrolled, resulting in a 79 percent participation rate. Eighty-three percent of those who received a wellness reward were satisfied with it. When compared to other types of programs celebrating employee achievements, employees ranked wellness programs second-most favorable behind programs that recognize individual workplace accomplishments.
  • Many companies don’t offer wellness rewards. According to the employees surveyed, only 44 percent of their employers offer rewards to employees, and among the organizations that do offer rewards, only 38 percent offer wellness rewards. More women than men, and more salaried employees than hourly, report being offered wellness programs.
  • Wellness program rewards come in many forms—and people have a favorite. Employees who are eligible for wellness rewards report that they have options to receive the reward in person or remotely and can receive many types of rewards. Points, insurance discounts and merchandise were common options offered to survey respondents, and half of the employees eligible for rewards are offered a type of gift or prepaid card, with 21 percent being offered physical gift cards, 13 percent offered egifts, 11 percent offered physical prepaid cards and 5 percent offered digital prepaid cards. Among all reward options, physical prepaid cards are employees’ favorite.
  • Value and frequency play a key role in creating an ideal wellness reward. While high-value rewards are attractive, employees are generally more interested in immediate lump-sum rewards than those that are paid out more slowly over a longer period of time. This is especially true among Millennials responding to the survey, 53 percent of whom prefer on-the-spot rewards delivered as quickly as possible for achieving a wellness goal compared with 44 percent of respondents ages 55 to 75. Even though more frequent wellness rewards—as opposed to those delivered quarterly or annually—are preferred by participants, only 22 percent of employers that offer wellness rewards provide them.
  • There’s room for wellness program improvement. While 73 percent of surveyed wellness program participants report achieving the goals for which they earn rewards, this number is lower than the success rates of other reward program categories evaluated in the survey, suggesting employers may not be setting the right types of goals or providing the right rewards.

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*About The Efficacy of Employee Rewards Research
The “Efficacy of Employee Rewards” research was an online survey conducted independently by Murphy Research on behalf of Hawk Incentives between Jan. 29 and Feb. 7, 2018. The sample size included 1,472 American respondents ages 18+. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5% 19 times out of 20.