By Matt Dunning, Crain News Service
CHICAGO (May 16, 2013) — Employers are taking an ever-harder line with their workforces when it comes to incentivizing engagement in health and wellness management, according to a recent study published by the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH).
The study included 94 employers of various sizes—ranging from less than 200 employees to more than 25,000.
More than 37 percent of employers polled said they have begun pairing their existing wellness rewards with penalties for nonparticipation, such as increased healthcare premiums and coverage plan limitations.
Another 6 percent said they exclusively use such disincentives to drive employee engagement in their wellness programs, and as many as 16 percent of employers said they plan to incorporate wellness penalties within the next 12 months.
Employers starting to measure progress
Additionally, more than 28 percent of employers polled in the Chicago-based MBGH's May survey on wellness incentive structures said they plan to begin tying wellness rewards to their employees' progress in meeting targeted health outcomes, as opposed to mere participation in wellness initiatives. Another 13 percent of employers said they have already implemented such incentive structures.
"Most employers find that unless they offer some form of incentive, employees and dependents often don't participate in programs that are meant to prevent and reduce chronic disease, resulting in millions of benefits dollars being wasted," Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO, said in a statement accompanying the group's report.
MBGH's study underscores an emerging trend within the field of workplace wellness in which employers are gradually shifting wellness resources away from traditional, participation-based reward structures in favor of wellness penalties and outcome-based incentives designed to motivate active and sustained engagement among employees in day-to-day health management.
This report appeared in Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.