Employee Wellness Program Reward Ideas

The numbers are bleak. Turnover is now at its highest level since 2008. Almost a third of workers leave their job before reaching the half-year mark. The cost of replacing an employee can exceed 200% of their annual salary. And according to a recent Gallup study, 87% of people are disengaged from their work. You’ve decided to use iRewardHealth as your wellness platform. You’ve put together a list of members. You’re excited about rolling out a new program. Now the tough part: figuring out what the rewards should be. Regardless of the cost, scope, or complexity of effective rewards, the guidelines are fairly simple:
  • Know your audience
  • Know your budget
  • Be creative
If you’re having trouble thinking of reward options, here is a list of some things to get the wheels turning. You can make the rewards as simple or as creative as you want. We suggest choosing reward options and trying them out for at least three months before making changes. We also recommend a variety of reward options. Ideally, you want items that are motivating and keep people coming back for more. You don’t want the rewards to be difficult to obtain and, in turn, dissuade people from using the app. The object is to motivate behavior change, and keeping people engaged is the best way to do that. Keep in mind that the maximum number of points a member can earn per day is 1,000, so as you’re creating rewards be sure to assign point values appropriately. Points are earned for every item logged.

Low point values (20,000 – 30,000 points each; monthly)
  • Earned time off
  • Wellness basket (jump rope, water bottle, yoga mat, gift certificate, stress ball, healthy snacks, or other inexpensive items)
  • Office accessories (plaque, personalized stationery, engraved pen, new keyboard, wireless headphones)
  • Raffle ticket entries towards a prize
  • Gift certificates (local restaurants, sports passes, movie tickets, spa services)
  • Cash rewards (recommend $15 per employee per month budget)
  • Lunch or coffee
  • Lunch with leadership team
  • Branded swag (clothing, office accessories, water bottles)
  • Seasonal surprise (entry fees for a pumpkin patch or holiday light show)  
Mid-range point values (30,000 – 90,000 points each; quarterly)
  • Preferred parking space
  • Event or entertainment tickets (movie pass, sports game, concert, Cirque du Soleil)
  • Dry cleaning or haircuts
  • Oil change
  • Golf pass
  • Chair massage
  • Pet grooming appointment
  • Gym membership / Class Pass for a month
  • Unlimited car washes for a month
High point values (90,000 – 360,000 points each; annually or semi-annually)
  • Bigger/corner office for a month
  • Sports equipment rentals (skis, paddle board, kayak, jetski)
  • Excursions: white water rafting, hot air balloon ride, scenic train ride
  • Apple Watch
  • A trip (cover airfare, ground transportation, food, and accommodations)
  Okay, so now you’re a few steps ahead of where you were five minutes ago. The wheels have started turning and now here are some things to think about as you start to design the program:

Number of redemptions allowed per month

It’s important to make employees aware if there is a cap on rewards that can be redeemed in a given month. For example, if you have a water bottle worth 8,000 points, they could earn up to three water bottles in a given month (Max 31,000 points earned / 8,000 point item = 3 water bottles earned). In order to preserve budget money and ensure there are enough reward items for everyone, it may be worthwhile to consider capping the number of rewards that can be redeemed within a certain time period (i.e. “one per person” or “one per person per month”).

Point allocation

When developing a rewards system, it’s ideal to have multiple reward options available to members. Your goal is to appeal to as many people as possible and keep them engaged on a long-term basis. To do this, consider having rewards worth different amounts (see examples, above). You should make sure that the rewards are attainable yet a bit of a stretch for members. If you have items that don’t “cost” a lot of points, it may be too easy for members to earn the points and redeem them for a reward. On the other hand, if you have items that “cost” too many points you may dissuade members from logging because they could feel like they’ll never reach their goal.

Before solidifying point values, you should think about your monthly budget. If your monthly max budget per person is $20, then a reward worth $20 should take a least one month (31,000 points) to earn. If your monthly budget is $20 and you have a reward worth $75, then it should take 3 ½  – 4 months to earn.

You want to be sure to leave enough room for members to be human and make mistakes, forget to log a few days, and still be able to redeem points for rewards without getting discouraged.

Budget concerns

One of the most common questions Program Administrators ask is how to be creative on a small budget. Hopefully, some of the above examples are helpful, but if not, you could explore the idea of donations as rewards. Do you have a sister that’s a fitness instructor who is willing to donate an hour of her time each month to host a fitness class at the office? Or an art teacher who could teach a class at a heavily discounted rate? Use your connections to the network and find alternative options.

Are the rewards valuable

What’s the perceived value of the rewards? Do you already give out free water bottles or offer a coffee cart or free lunch Fridays? If so, don’t incorporate these types of rewards into the program. Does everyone take public transportation to work and therefore a parking space is unnecessary? Be creative, think outside the box, and be sure what you offer has value and is something people actually care about.

Reward fulfillment

Because iRewardHealth doesn’t track inventory, reward redemption and fulfillment is something you will need to take into consideration and plan for. Think about how a member will receive the reward once it is redeemed. If the reward is something tangible, who will be responsible for ensuring there are enough items for each person? How will the member physically get to the reward? Spreadsheets or a simple inventory management system can go a long way here.

If the reward is intangible, who will be responsible for tracking? For example, if an employee earns an additional 4 hours of PTO, how will that be tracked and redeemed? An easy way to do this is to include directions and contact information in the Instruction section of the reward option. Perhaps they need to print out the confirmation email and physically walk it to the HR Manager; or they could forward the email to their manager who takes care of it. Whatever process is used, be sure to have a way to track who has redeemed what, and whether or not they’ve used it (just because someone redeems their 4 hours of PTO doesn’t mean they necessarily have to use it right away). It would be wise to have one or two people responsible for reward tracking and fulfillment.

If you’re curious about templated rewards programs, ask an iRewardHealth team member. We can help you design a customized program specifically to fit your needs. Below is an example rewards template – feel free to copy and paste if this sounds intriguing!

Sample Rewards Template

Water bottle = 8,000 points, max of one per person per month

Wellness basket = 50,000 points. Basket theme is relaxation and includes a scented candle, stress ball, hand lotion, sleeping mask, earplugs, and gift certificate for a 30-minute massage.

Oil change = 83,000 points

Trip to Mexico = 335,000 points

Be cognizant of the potential combinations of prizes, such as a wellness basket and a water bottle in a two month period. The maximum number of points that can be earned per day is 1,000 (per month is 28,000 – 31,000 depending on the month), so anything greater than 31,000 points will require the member to save up their points over a longer period of time.

Happy Planning!