Employee wellness: Using a carrot or a stick

X-Range A-Frame Bench Desks
Do you take a carrot or a stick approach to motivating your staff?

Every employer appreciates that it is in their best interests to have a healthy workforce. There is much debate, however, on what is the best way of achieving this. Should you force your employees to get up from their X-Range A-Frame Bench Desks and participate in exercise or wellness programmes or should you persuade them to do so?

Persuading your workforce away from their X-Range A-Frame Bench Desks

We are a society that prefers incentives to sanctions. We try to control children’s behaviour with rewards and sticker charts, with varying degrees of success. The concept of punishment is not fashionable right now. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that most employers would rather use a rewards-based system to get their employees out from behind their desks and into the gym. The same can be said for healthy eating and weight-loss programmes. Yet research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania does not back this up. The study found that offering cash incentives did not make employees any more likely to achieve their exercise goals.

This is an important finding as according to the Society of Human Resource Management, around 40 percent of companies offer some sort of reward for completing health and wellness programmes such as discounts on health insurance premiums. This may require a re-think of health-promotion strategies in the workplace. If these schemes are not achieving what they set out to achieve then they are a waste of money and this is money that could be spent elsewhere.

The reasons for non-compliance, despite the presence of incentives, are not totally clear but is connected with the fact that employees do not rationalise the situation in ways that would be predicted.

Enforcing sanctions on your employees

Some employers have now decided to adopt a different approach. They are choosing to apply sanctions to employees who will not participate in their healthy initiatives. They are using measures such as removing insurance cover or finding other ways to financially penalise non- compliant employees. Often, all they have to do is threaten employees and it works better that trying to motivate them.

This approach is not to everyone’s liking and some argue that a well-designed incentive scheme is still the best approach. In dismissing incentives all together, we could be in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Schemes that penalise employees are viewed by some as harsh. It is also possible that they discriminate against some employees. Those employees who suffer from health problems may be less inclined to participate in wellness programs and removing their health insurance could further damage their health. This is not getting at the root cause of the problem.

Getting to know your employees

The important point is that employers should take their time to get to know their employees and to work out what makes them tick. In the same way as you browse Office Furniture Online to select the best X-Range A-Frame Bench Desks, you need to select the best way of promoting wellness in your workers.

John

Head of cool things at Office Furniture
Bit of this, bit of that but love cats.

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Author: John