Employee wellness programs certainly aren’t new. They’ve been popular for years now, and as a result, HR professionals have fine-tuned both program structure and communications to better support corporate goals for employee wellness and ROI.

However, there’s still some room for improvement.

The opportunity lies in an employee wellness program component that’s a growing priority: incentives. Yes, they can be an added expense, and yes, they can add complexity to program administration. But investing in incentives makes sense, particularly when it comes to health-related behavior changes.

There have been a number of studies portraying what employees response to. Insurance premium discounts, for instance, are a popular and seemingly logical incentive choice for diverse employee populations. But there’s a problem: only 45% of employees find insurance discounts motivating. And some individuals even see this type of incentive as a negative, with a perspective that it’s a penalty to pay a full, undiscounted insurance premium. Programs that take a positive approach fare better, especially those with cash incentives, which are ranked in the top three wellness incentive choices by 81%.

Truly meaningful incentives will stand out in the recipient’s mind, both at the moment of presentation and reward redemption. This is part of the reason prepaid cards are increasingly desirable for wellness incentives. Prepaid cards are cash-like, but clearly separate from regular pay, and spending is flexible enough to appeal to diverse groups. All said, it makes sense to carefully consider the difficulty of the action or behavior change as well as the audience when choosing wellness incentives. There is no ideal answer for every program.

Contact Eagles, Benefits By Design, Inc. for more information on wellness incentives.


Today’s employers have three different generations represented in their workforce – millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. Each generation looks at work, life, and money in totally different ways and has varying benefits needs and preferences. Brokers and advisors who assist their business clients in matching their employees’ life-stage needs to voluntary benefits offerings will build stronger client relationships and increase their revenue at the same time.

Well-designed benefits plans should be based on employees’ desires and needs in addition to supporting the employer’s business objective of providing a benefits package that aids in recruiting and retaining its workforce. Once considered just a nice extra for a more comprehensive benefits package, voluntary benefits are now an essential element of the employee benefits program because they allow workers to customize their benefits and assist with the employee’s overall financial wellness.

Financial wellness is a concern for most of today’s employees. In a July 2014 Harris Poll, 80 percent of employees working full-time said they have financial stress today. Their stress is related to both long-term and short-term financial needs. Specifically, 67 percent indicated the stress is related to long-term financial needs (savings, retirement plan, etc.), while 60 percent said it was short-term-related (everyday living expenses as well as unexpected financial needs such as a car repair, appliance replacement or emergency medical expenses).

Voluntary benefits can address some financial wellness needs for employees. Traditional voluntary benefits are generally straightforward when it comes to employee selection as they most likely are chosen to complement the core insurance program.

Traditional voluntary products can fill in the gaps in core benefits left by scaled-back benefits, higher deductibles and more consumer-driven health plans. Not surprisingly, these benefits are also the most popular.

But nontraditional voluntary benefits break it wide open. Nontraditional voluntary products in the marketplace provide a wide array of benefits that employees can choose from to enhance their lifestyle, protect their well-being, and improve their financial wellness in both the short and long term. There’s a multitude of opportunities to meet employees’ diverse needs.

By looking at nontraditional voluntary benefits offerings based on generational preferences, employers can hit a home run with their workforce.