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7 Non-Financial Incentives That Actually Work

7 Non-Financial Incentives That Actually Work Propel

If you think financial incentives are the only driver of wellness program engagement, you might want to take a closer look. Non-financial incentives not only increase program participation, they also increase program loyalty and overall engagement. Once you learn how to motivate participants without a monetary reward, you'll never look at your incentive budget the same. So what are some examples of non-financial incentives?

Non-financial incentives such as badges, social recognition, certificates, gamification, flexible time, increased responsibility and public employee recognition can increase program engagement and drive higher levels of participation in your employee wellness program.

Lose the calculator and get your notebook ready, you're going to want to take notes.

1. Award Badges

If you've played any kind of video game, there's a good chance you've earned badges. Maybe it's a reason you play in the first place! In fact, over the last decade the interest in digital badges has significantly increased. People enjoy earning them because they are symbols of achievement, reputation, and mastery. Fortunately for us, badges are just as motivational for wellness programs.

How It Works

Badges create status and positively reinforce program participation. We find that the best way to set up a badging program is to display all possible badges an individual could earn. Participants become more motivated when they see what they do not yet have. The addition of a title given to an individual that attains a certain number of badges creates a special status and also increases program adherence. At Propel, we use this technique along with unlockable premium content to further drive engagement.

2. Prioritize Social Recognition

The truth is, everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work. When organizations implement social recognition techniques to reward healthy behavior, it gets everyone talking. Suprisingly, even the quiet ones.

The Healthy Selfie

The healthy selfie never seems to get old. People love showing off their healthy lifestyles, and enjoy seeing how their co-workers are living healthy even more!

Happy couple taking photo of themselves with smart phone outdoors, Taking a "selfie"

How It Works

When users see pictures on the wellness portal of colleagues doing something healthy or sharing a success story, it instantly grabs their attention. It makes them realize, "wow, my healthy habits matter and my company wants to recognize them." A wellness portal like Propel can showcase these photos in several engaging layouts, where employees can submit a photo with a description and encourage others to be healthy.

If your organization uses Facebook, Instagram, or other websites for community engagement, encourage employees to post there, too. In fact, encourage them to post more than just pictures. For example, they could share how many miles they biked, what they cooked for dinner, how they overcame financial hurtles, etc. There's nothing that stirs motivation and comradery more than seeing incredible success stories from the people you work with.

3. Present Certificates

Imagine you just recieved a certificate for reaching a new milestone in your wellbeing journey, what would you do with it? If you're living in the 21st century, you're posting that certificate somewhere for people to see. Certificates are quick, easy non-financial incentives that show employees you're rooting for their wellbeing.

How It Works

When employees see their co-workers getting certificates, you'll notice a spike in engagement in your wellness program. Propel frequently generates certificates to members of the portal to commemorate new achievements. The best part about certificates is that the date is clearly stated, so unless your employees like being last year's best, they're going to want to renew that date to maintain their standing. Better yet, they'll go for the next level of achievement.

4. Utilize Gamification

Two of the biggest motivators for gamers is the satisfaction of competition and completion. This works with wellness programs, too. When there's gamification involved in your wellness program, employees have motivation to participate just for the satisfaction of fulfilling their psychological needs.

How It Works

  • Compentence — People love to be good at things and feel a sense of mastery over tasks and skills. When employees look at a list of activities to complete in the wellness program (i.e. getting a yearly physical, exercising, going to the dentist) they instantly get a surge of motivation to complete them. This is because they view it as a way to measure their success.
  • Autonomy — Everyone likes to have ownership; whether it be over a skill, accomplishment, or item. Having the ability to achieve things—such as badges from competitions, or knowledge from educational content—makes people feel in control. Obtaining 12 badges or seeing their name at the top of leaderboard gives employees a sense of pride because they earned every bit of it on their own.
  • Relatedness — Because wellness programs bring people together, everyone can feel included. When there's a foundation of comradery built from competitions/challenges, people will start engaging just to feel part of the team.

5. Give Them Flexible Time

Another non-finanancial incentive that actually works is flexible time. In particular, offering employees time to exercise at the beginning or end of the day has become an especially popular recruiting technique. It shows employees you want them to prioritize their wellbeing.

Closeup portrait of a businessman walking with bicycle

How It Works

This works in conjunction to your wellness program by encouraging employees to take an early yoga class, or a late afternoon jog and add their workout into the wellness portal. If you don't want to commit to offering this every day, consider doing 'Fitness Friday's' where employees can leave an hour early to exercise. Without an excuse to skip a workout, that extra push of motivation will go a long way.

6. Increase Their Responsibility

It always feels good to contribute to big decisions in an organization. Including employees in decision-making shows you value their opinions and trust what they have to offer.

Business Team Meeting Seminar Training Concept

How It Works

You can apply this incentive by building a team of Wellness Champions that can regularly help you make decisions for the wellness program. This will dramatically spike engagement and take a load of work off your shoulders. Additionally, choose high-participating employees in the wellness program to be on a decision-making team for specific company projects. Once you see how much employees enjoy this responsibility, you'll understand why this non-financial incentive is a crowd favorite.

7. Implement Employee Recognition

If your organization has a place to publicly display employee success, choose highly engaged participants of the wellness portal to recognize. When employees get publicly recognized for being healthy, it takes motivation to the next level.

How It Works

What really makes a difference in the workplace is appreciating employees for their efforts towards being healthy. People want to feel valued for making good choices. Many employers choose to display this with a monetary reward, however we have found that non-financial incentives that publicly recognize employees build just as much adherence. Build this into a regular routine by publicly recognizing employees in meetings, or giving them a shout on on social media. There's an extra sense of pride they'll feel knowing others are aware of their contributions, too.

Sydney Sweet

About the author

Sydney Sweet

Sydney Sweet is the Communication and Engagement Manager at Propel, where she helps organizations cultivate a community of wellbeing using strategies unique to each company's culture. In her free time, Sydney enjoys watching and playing sports of any kind.

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