Should employers reward employees for healthy habits?

We know that the overall wellbeing of employees has a major impact on so many areas of the People Experience at work and this may also impact Productivity, Motivation, Satisfaction and much more so should employers get involved? And more…should they reward healthy habits?

Actually, we have a wellbeing scheme!

Employers have implemented all sorts of fab benefits schemes to support their employees in having good health, from Gym Discounts, Dental, Healthcare Trusts, Financial Education and free fruit in the office but does this simply provide a benefit for employees that for example are voracious fruit eaters who now get to eat for free or does it enable changed behaviours so that employees can be healthier?

Firstly, let’s look at why a company would want to reward healthy habits?

A recent study by the University of California found that organisations that had a wellness program saw an increase in productivity of 5% – roughly equivalent to 1 additional productive day per employee per month

Companies will invest in employee engagement but research by Fairhurst and Connor in 2010 showed that whilst highly engaged employees are generally productive, when that productivity is not coupled with wellbeing, there is a real risk of burnout, check out the 4 box grid below to see what this looks like:

So, it would certainly appear that there are some real business reasons for an organisation to want their staff to be healthy.

A more human reason?

But is there a more human driver for a company supporting employee wellbeing?

Lorna Leeson, People & Change Consultant and Coach, who always asks brilliant questions and challenges the norm, recently said on Twitter:

I’m looking forward to when we don’t justify wellbeing focus at work by talking about productivity or innovation or other ‘business benefits’ but because humans deserve better.


I think framing it only in those terms (productivity and business benefits) reinforces a less human narrative. Business leaders are human too.

It is hard to disagree with this and as the world of work progresses surely the future of work is a human one that is designed with basic wellbeing at its heart?

You can find Lorna here: Twitter & LinkedIn

Best of both worlds?

Rob Robson, Owner of 8Connect and PxHub adviser points out that if you are building a business case for senior managers in today’s world you may want to think about this from both angles:

Humans deserve better and productivity are two very different motivations. When it comes to motivations, two is better than one

You can find Rob here: Twitter & LinkedIn

So, should we reward healthy habits?

Providing wellbeing solutions as part of your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is great but incentivising behaviours needs to be carefully thought out to ensure that you are not excluding chunks of people from this.

Wellbeing will mean something different to everyone and you need to factor this in, maybe it is about enabling healthy habits as part of your culture rather than rewarding them?

Your culture is a key part of your EVP and you should ask yourself, “Do we provide an environment where people can prioritise their own wellbeing?”

Measuring the Experience

Whether you are looking to implement a reward scheme that incentivises healthier behaviours to improve your People Experience, your productivity or because you want to simply help your your people live a bit better, if you cannot measure the baseline and the improvements you will struggle to know what works, why it works and what the improvement was.

Speak to your people! Ask them what is important to them, understand how they feel about their own wellbeing and let them help you design incentives/wellbeing schemes that are targeted to improve the areas that matter to them and will deliver results for you.

The People Experience Hub Wellbeing survey allows you to see how your people currently feel and our Pulse Survey solution allows you to track this as you go so you can see the results (or lack of results!)

(This blog originally appeared, in part, as an article in The Employee Benefits Magazine in January 2018 and you can see it here: )

About the author

Hi!, my name is Nick Court and I work at The People Experience Hub

Find out more about the solutions we offer at

Drop the team an email

You can find me on twitter @Scruffy_Nick or on LinkedIn here

We would love to hear what you think.

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