Recognition and appreciation have been long accepted as a part of the overall strategy to sustain employee motivation and engagement. Designing an effective rewards strategy can help organizations boost productivity, improve retention, promote healthy competition, and foster innovation. For example, experts suggest that being recognized in the last 30 days can increase the perception of satisfaction and accomplishment by nearly 50%.
Personalized rewards and recognition are essential for wellness programs
Building new habits and sustaining them requires a complex interplay of physical and physiological factors. Besides a right mix of motivation, commitment and discipline, habit formation depends on how regularly and satisfactorily we are rewarded for our efforts. As scientists and psychologists learn more about how our mind works, using behavioural psychology and neuroscience to teach sustainable habits has increased. A crucial part of this matrix is understanding how we perceive rewards and how they help keep us motivated and committed to our goals.
Organizations have also been using this knowledge to nudge employee behaviour for the better individual, team, and organizational performance. The good news is that there is an extensive and growing body of research that organizations can use help employees develop healthy work habits and, eventually, improve performance, engagement, and wellness. In particular, wellness programs and initiatives are well-poised to leverage this knowledge. They can help employees implement valuable changes to their personal and professional lives with tangible results, such as improved physical wellness and mental health. Similarly, HR leaders can use the right rewards system to create a circular loop of encouragement and motivation to help employees achieve better work-life balance, enhanced performance, and higher work satisfaction.
Setting the right wellness incentives for higher adoption and engagement
Developing the right wellness incentives can involve a complex interplay of communication, personalization, timely acknowledgement, and objectivity. However, HR leaders and professionals can design an effective rewards system using the following practical suggestions and tips:
By building a relationship of trust and reliability with your employees, you can recognize their role and contribution to organizational success. Demonstrating that you value their opinions and suggestions further shows that you reciprocate the trust and confidence and consider them the most crucial stakeholder for building a positive change in the workplace. Making employees feel heard, seen, and valued can increase their sense of belonging, value, and satisfaction.
Personalize rewards mix
When designing incentives, ensure you balance the monetary and non-monetary rewards smartly. So, alongside cash bonuses, include options such as increased flexibility, experiential rewards, career development training, and volunteering opportunities. Before selecting which rewards to offer, it can be beneficial to identify how effective external motivators like monetary bonuses or free services, like event tickets, are for your employees.
You can conduct a short survey to assess whether employees prefer rewards like shopping vouchers or increased flexibility when they achieve certain milestones. Furthermore, offer employees the flexibility to choose rewards that they desire so that they are satisfied with what they receive. Finally, make the rewards easy to understand and access for better adoption.
Recognize publicly and timely
Acknowledging and recognizing employees for their effort and improvement is crucial to sustaining their participation and keeping engagement levels high. Effective recognition has three crucial elements: timeliness, public expression, and personalization.
Train your managers to acknowledge team members promptly, i.e., soon after they achieve a milestone. Similarly, it is important to acknowledge people publicly, i.e., bring it up in a meeting or write an email to everyone. And finally, teach managers to personalize the recognition to make it feel earnest and genuine. The recognition should be specific, focus on the employee's achievements, and offer deserving praise that can motivate other team members.
Design accurate measurement tools
One of the biggest obstacles to ensuring high participation and retention in wellness programs are structural challenges such as improper measurement or lack of objectivity. Even if these challenges are perceived rather than absolute, they can still deter employees from fully committing to the program. A program's success depends on designing accurate and fair measurement tools that record progress accurately and present information transparently.
You can use digital tools to ensure that there is no bias in measuring and recording employee data and make it accessible through leaderboards and regular updates. The goal of these tools and mechanisms should be to promote a feeling of healthy competition between participants instead of giving an impression to employees that their peers are outperforming them to an extent where they feel dissuaded from even trying.
Using rewards to increase participation and adoption of wellness programs: The last word
Relevant, personalized, and timely rewards and acknowledgement can significantly ensure higher adoption, participation, and retention levels of employee wellness initiatives. To select the right rewards and design a purposeful incentive strategy for wellness initiatives, organizations and HR leaders must listen to what their employees want, offer a high degree of customization, and pay special attention to implementing the program fairly. If used effectively, wellness rewards, recognition, and incentives have the potential to help employees improve their well-being and contribute to the betterment of the overall workplace culture.