How to reward wellness at work: consider this

Recognition & Rewards
February 12, 2019

Breaking a habit is one of the hardest things to do, nevermind establishing a new one. According to a recent study done at the University College London, it takes an average of 66 days to create a basic habit, and 21 days to break an old one. Combined, that’s a little under 3 months. A habit is a behavior, and one of the most difficult traits to change, especially when it comes to wellness, and therefore the most critical part of wellness. Behavior changes can be challenging to implement and sustain over the long-term and should be at the core of any effective wellness program.

Like other employee engagement initiatives, rewards and recognition can play a role in motivating your employees to adopt the behaviors necessary to put them on the path to making wellness a regular habit. When evaluating how to motivate employees to adopt wellness-related behaviors, consider these different ways of structuring your rewards initiative:


This is the most inclusive approach, as anyone who participates will earn rewards.


Keep your employees on the right path by rewarding pivotal steps or milestones along the way. These are given to employees who have actively been participating and pursuing their goals.


Reward employees who achieve specific goals. Although this can be the least inclusive, it provides a strong incentive for participants who are striving to achieve long-term goals.

Will implementing a wellness program really succeed in making a difference?

The success of your wellness initiative is all about how you design and execute it.


Communicate with your staff and ask them what elements of wellness they consider to be important and they would like to see implemented. What do your employees need? Does this match the company’s goals? This way you’ll get a clear idea of what personal goals exist for your employees, making it easier to implement rewards.

Consider company culture

Using employee survey data, create a plan that combines physical activity with wellness education and incorporates core elements of the company’s culture. Continuous support and change comes from wellness being a core value of the company.The culture should be supportive of all aspects of health including financial, emotional, social, and physical well-being.

Strong communication

Create a comprehensive communication plan to keep employees aware of how to get involved, new challenges, workshops, rewards, and changes. For better results, communicating across multiple channels, with regular frequency (particularly at the start), and providing relevant content is recommended.


If employees can earn rewards or additional benefits for participating in your wellness program, then you’ll want to plan your annual budget. Studies have shown that rewards valued over 100$ correlate to higher rates of participation than rewards valued at less. However, this doesn’t mean your program needs to have a huge price tag. Other valuable reward options can include creative alternatives such as parking spaces or half days off from work, which are desired by most employees.


Using rewards and recognition software can be a great way to help alleviate the administrative effort associated with tracking employee participation and the rewards earned for their wellness achievements. It also encourages employee participation since they’ll experience less “friction” related to earning recognition and cashing in their rewards.

Measuring impact

While doing your homework upfront helps avoid unnecessary trial and error, it’s important to check-in frequently to see how things are going and allow for adjustments that suit your employees’ needs. 30% participation is the benchmark for success when it comes to wellness programs. Therefore, once you implement wellness rewards, a participation increase of 20% should be seen as a great improvement. More than just participation, measuring the beneficial impact on both employees and the company is highly recommended.  For example, as a result of your company’s wellness program are you aiming to achieve higher employee engagement and productivity or lower health plan insurance premiums? If so, it’s important to have baseline comparisons established before launching the program in order to effectively measure changes thereafter.


Employers are also always wise to consider their potential legal responsibilities relating to privacy and workplace liability. A wellness program opens the door to becoming more involved in employees’ lives by tracking personal health and activity-related information. Consider legal waivers to protect the company against the unlikely case of injury lawsuits that result from program participation. Above all, it is important to remember that all programs must be voluntary. If an incentive is offered, employees should never feel any sense of obligation to participate.

Wellness programs can be implemented to help employees adopt healthier behaviors from simple daily adjustments to longer-term accomplishments. Gamifying behavioral health goals can keep your team motivated to succeed. Things like walking to work, packing a healthy lunch, or drinking more water, are easily rewardable and trackable. Prizes like gift cards for athletic wear or restaurants, and reusable water bottles make for great incentives. Challenges including long-term goals such as smoking cessation, 5-km runs, or weight loss can be harder to stick to, but with milestone-based incentives, as well as a larger achievement rewards, you’re sure to keep your employees motivated. What’s more, Qarrot is here to help! Our software is easy to use, allowing employees to directly enter results towards a given goal. Employees can easily track their improvement and feel inspired to continue on the wellness path.

Workplaces thrive when they adopt Qarrot - learn more by booking your free demo today!

Further reading


Louise Bienvenu

Among the many hats Louise wears, she's the Marketing Manager at Qarrot. She's driven by a passion for employee experience and making workdays a little brighter for everyone.