Gift cards more effective than cash at motivating employees, study finds
- Cash rewards might not be the most effective way to get employees to participate and complete employer wellness programs, according to a study by Brigham Young University.
- Researchers say they studied an employer that provided awards such as cash bonuses added to paychecks, gift cards or a tangible reward of equal value to employees who completed six-week wellness challenges, BYU reported. Although 60% of the participants choose cash rewards, people who selected gift cards were 25% more likely to complete a wellness challenge, BYU said.
- Researchers speculated that gift cards may be more motivational because they represent the "optimal balance between hedonic value (fun, enjoyment) and fungibility," the study's authors told BYU. The study does not recommend that organizations only offer gift cards as incentives, the report said.
According to a 2018 study by Wrike, all but 6% of American workers reported being stressed at work, and one-fourth of the respondents to the survey said they will burn out within the next year if they continue to feel so stressed. Stress and burnout can lead to high turnover, and poor sleep — a common side effect of stress — has shown to cause workers to make more mistakes.
With this in mind, it's not shocking that wellness is a serious consideration for employees and candidates. According to a recent survey, 73% of workers weigh whether an employer offers well-being programs when deciding whether to accept a job offer. In the same survey, about one-quarter of respondents said they favored incentives that reward healthy behavior. Academic case studies from Stanford University and the University of Michigan have also shown the popularity of wellness programs among workers.
Even with strong employee demand for wellness programs, employers might look to personalized programs and incentives to encourage full participation. Personalized wellness programs or non-cash incentives like paid time off would motivate 80% of employees to participate, according to the Wellbeing Wake-Up Report by Welltok.