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Types of Wellness Programs: A Brief Guide

Posted, by Rachel Merkin on 04/15/2016

Employee wellness programs are becoming an increasingly important part of employee benefits packages. Knowing the different types of wellness programs in the market can help your HR staff have a better understanding of what your unique workforce needs are and how to best market the program to your employees. Having the optional benefit of a wellness program may not be at the top of a candidates list when deciding on what organization they want to work for, but providing a well organized, well-marketed program can help your organization stand out as one that values the health and well-being of their employees. Here are three of the most prevalent types of wellness programs.

  1. Participatory Wellness Programs: These types of wellness programs are based on employees participating in some kind of activity and an employer covering the cost to encourage the active behavior. This could be a free or discounted gym membership, a subsidy to play in a rec sports league, or a paid entry into a local walk or road race.
  2. Activity-Only Contingent Wellness Programs: These types of wellness programs may be the easiest to administer and maintain. These are the programs where employers give a fitness tracker to an employee, or have them self report activity in a central repository. Then employers give rewards, like gift cards to employees who meet activity goals over a set period of time.
  3. Outcome-Based Wellness Program: These types of wellness program can get dicey. Since they base rewards on employees meeting a certain health standard, whether it’s a goal weight, blood pressure, cholesterol or another metric, these programs can walk a fine line between employers encouraging healthy living and employers crossing the line into employees’ personal, medical histories. These programs can be extremely effective because of their biometric basis, but be careful not to cross that line. Surveying your employees pre-program to see how they feel about biometric screenings is a good way to avoid any issues.

Which program type will work best for you? There’s no prescriptive formula for this type of decision. Surveying employees and management to see what will work best for your particular organization will be the best way to determine the most successful model.


Topics: Health & Wellness, wellness program guide, wellness program types

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