“Employees Loved It” and Other Signs You May Be Doing the Wrong Thing

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May 16, 2017

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At HES, whenever we hear something like the employees loved… we hold our breath, because it’s often followed by the latest flavor-of-the-month wellness activity. While we’re big believers in delighting employees with whatever wellness benefit you’re promoting, if it’s not tied to an overall objective or the program’s mission, it’s probably neutral at best and harmful to health enhancement efforts at worst.

More examples to indicate you may be missing the mark:

  • Making gift cards, cash, premium discounts central to your participation/engagement strategy. Employees LOVE them, until they don’t. They don’t when the gift card values shrink (or even fail to go up), when the cash rewards and premium discounts go away, or the model is switched to a punitive approach. It’s a cycle that appears to play out over 3-5 years every time with every organization. You’re left with a portion of your population — those you’ve trained to expect bribery to do something you want them to want to do for themselves. The moment you pay people to perform healthy habits (or punish them for not doing so), you begin to crowd out intrinsic motivation — making long-term improvement more difficult.

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