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Incentives, Program Configuration, and Employee Uptake of Workplace Wellness Programs

Huang, Haijing MA; Mattke, Soeren MD, DSc; Batorsky, Benajmin MPH; Miles, Jeremy PhD; Liu, Hangsheng PhD; Taylor, Erin PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 1 - p 30–34
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000613

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of wellness program configurations and financial incentives on employee participation rate.

Methods: We analyze a nationally representative survey on workplace wellness programs from 407 employers using cluster analysis and multivariable regression analysis.

Results: Employers who offer incentives and provide a comprehensive set of program offerings have higher participation rates. The effect of incentives differs by program configuration, with the strongest effect found for comprehensive and prevention-focused programs. Among intervention-focused programs, incentives are not associated with higher participation.

Conclusions: Wellness programs can be grouped into distinct configurations, which have different workplace health focuses. Although monetary incentives can be effective in improving employee participation, the magnitude and significance of the effect is greater for some program configurations than others.

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California (Mr Huang, Dr Miles, Dr Taylor); and RAND Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts (Mr Batorsky, Dr Liu, Dr Mattke).

Address correspondence to: Soeren Mattke, MD, DSc, RAND Corporation, 20 Park Plaza, Suite 920, Boston, MA 02116 (;

This research was conducted under contract #DOLJ139335149 with the Department of Labor. The Task Order Officer for the project was Elaine Zimmerman of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Department of Labor. We thank her for her guidance and review of the paper; however, we note that the material contained in this paper is the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the Task Order Officer, EBSA, or the federal government. The authors have no other conflicts of interest or sources of support to disclose.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine