Exercise is necessary to preserving good health, overall well-being, and a balanced mood, and its role in our lives grow into more significant as we become older. Financial incentives are a trademark of employee wellness programs; if employees implement healthy behavior, they get a monetary reward. However, new research available in the Annals of Internal Medicine recommends these incentives only work when employers threaten to take them away.
Regardless of the mental and physical health benefits linked with exercise, in the United States, more than half of adults do not get the minimum mentioned amount they require to decrease cardiovascular disease risk and death, as per the study. Physical activity can be particularly helpful to those with chronic diseases, such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and a few types of cancers. And when you consider the adverse effects of sitting at a desk all day, it’s no surprise more employee wellness programs are coming up.
Researchers verified the three methods of financial incentives effectiveness like gain, where a fixed sum of money is given each day goals are attained; lottery, where employees are qualified for cash each day goals are reached; and loss, where cash is given up front and a small sum is removed each day if goals are not attained.
The study compares various other ways of outlining the same quantity of incentive
For this randomized controlled trial study, the scientists enrolled 281 obese and overweight employees (body mass index (BMI) of 27 kg/m2 or more) from a single company and gave them the goal of reaching 7,000 steps a day for the 26 weeks of the trial.
The scientists clarify that 7,000 steps per day are coarsely 40% more than the 5,000 steps per day that American adults attain on average. The participants were able to record their progress on an app that ran in the background on their smartphones.
The participants were randomly allotted to one of four groups for the first 13 weeks: a lottery incentive group, gain incentive group, a control group, and a loss incentive group. The control group got no financial incentives for reaching the goal.
The gain incentive group participants got $1.40 for every day they reached the goal ($42 per month), while the lottery incentive group participants were comprised in a daily lottery each day they met their goal (the prize be an average of $1.40 each day that the goal was attained).
The loss incentive group participants received $42 at the start of a month and then took away $1.40 each day when they did not reach their goal.
For the second 13 weeks, the participants continued to get feedback and progress reports on their smartphones however, were not given any incentives.
Incentive outlined as loss of reward got improved results
The results indicated that the gain incentive group that was receiving $1.40 for each day had achieved their goal and the lottery incentive group (the lottery chance to win $1.40 for each day) did no better than the control group (means no incentives).
In those three groups, participants reached their daily goal of 30-35% of the time.
But, the loss incentive group (that had $1.40 taken away from their $42 monthly pot each time they did not meet their daily goal) achieved much better than the other three groups: they reached their daily goal 45% of the time. These extents to a closely 50% rise in the other groups.
Not having any incentives, even after 3 months, the vast majority of participants, almost 96% were still taking part in the program, note the authors, who say this displays how smartphones can aid in such programs on a bigger scale.
It was concluded by the authors that how you set a financial incentive affects its success, as senior author Kevin G. Volpp, professor of Medicine and Health Care Management, clarifies stating the findings establish that the possibility of losing a reward is a more powerful motivator and increases significant knowledge to the understanding of how to practice financial incentives to motivate employee participation in wellness programs.
In the meantime, employers who depend on only determining BMI to measure employees’ health status might do well to review their policy. Medical News Today lately reported how scientists are calling for a pause in the use of BMI as a measure of health.
A paper available in the International Journal of Obesity refers to a study led by the University of California-Los Angeles, which demonstrates how 75 million healthy Americans are misclassified as unhealthy as per their BMI status.
Workplace wellness programs are becoming gradually popular, actually, scientists found more than 80% of large employers now use some type of financial incentive to motivate participation. But, little research happens on the financial incentive designs efficacy. Possibly, these findings will shed some light.
Incentives are not a solution, of course, and might not work for all people, however as part of broader package of interferences and under few conditions, incentives might have a role to play in driving continued health behavior modification.
About The Author:
Guneet Bhatia is a freelance medical writing professional and has catered to the requirements of more than a dozen clients located across the globe. She is an aspiring novelist who intends to live a nomadic life with a vision to empathetically touch as many lives as a person can during his or her lifetime. She has a vested interest in breaking the health myths that people often surround themselves with.