More than half of 2,000 U.S. employers responding to a recentsurvey are providing incentives to employees who participate inhealth improvement and wellness programs. According toAon Hewitt's 2012 Health Care Survey, 59percent used monetary incentives to promote participation in suchprograms, compared to only 37 percent in 2011. While the first stepis getting employees to participate, many companies are strugglingto see actual results. Fifty-eight percent of employers offeringinitial incentives also offer them for completing lifestylemodification programs.

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Besides the obvious humanitarian implications of healthieremployees, employers stand to save $700 per employee by impactingthree out of eight risks and behaviors which Aon believes directlyinfluence 15 chronic conditions accounting for 80 percent of totalcosts for all chronic illnesses worldwide. Chronic medicalconditions the risks and behaviors lead to include diabetes, backpain, obesity, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol andasthma. These 8 risks and behaviors include:

  • Poor diet
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Poor stress management
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.

To change employee behavior, companies also must associaterewards with program outcomes instead of basic enrollment.Employees have to have a sense of accountability after they see theresults of health questionnaires and biometric screenings. There isstill room to improve. Even though more than 80 percent ofemployers provide incentives to complete health questionnaires,less than 10 percent use incentives to motivate behaviorchange.

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