26 Jul The Most Important Ingredient to Achieve Wellness Results?

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By Jim Pshock, Founder and CEO of Bravo

I’ve attended more conferences, listened to more speakers and read more articles, white-papers and text books on optimal corporate wellness/well-being programs than I could ever remember. I’ve heard fascinating keynotes on everything from stress and resiliency, to the impact of family and financial security to social determinants of health and the power of defining a clear life purpose. I’ve been blessed to spend my career surrounded by so many dedicated, passionate, brilliant and caring people in the health and wellness field. And whether you are a co-worker, board member, customer or competitor—thank you for sharing your perspective and your knowledge in this incredible journey.

As I learn more and my own understanding and viewpoint evolves, I’m often asked about the “most important thing” necessary for a successful program. It’s an honor to be associated with so many clients and friends that have achieved tremendous success in documenting health improvement and flat insurance claims costs over the past several years. Bravo is well known for our expertise in the use of incentives and the laws and regulations concerning wellness programs. It’s often assumed that Bravo believes the key to success is in the incentive design. As a person who engaged with many wellness solutions in the market prior to starting my own company, I can tell you that indeed, the shift to embedding meaningful incentives tied to participation and outcomes definitely moved the needle dramatically in a positive way. But are incentives the key ingredient?

Our data shows us that incentives are a key part (but only a part) of the story. As a Cleveland Browns fan, I can relate this to our decades-long quarterback controversy. To be a successful NFL team, most expect you’ll need to secure a sensational, even legendary, quarterback to lead your team to victory. The Browns have had their share of number one draft picks and highly skilled quarterbacks, yet struggle year after year to even win a handful of games. It doesn’t take long to figure out that even the best quarterback will struggle if there is a weak offensive line that leaves them constantly fleeing for their life. Or what if they have plenty of time but receivers continually miss the ball and running backs fumble time and time again? In a similar way, meaningful incentives will either enhance your strategy by moving people into your great programs and resources or they will highlight the weaknesses of the solutions you’ve engaged.

Simply recruiting a great quarterback can’t be your entire game plan for football. Nor can embedding large incentives be your entire game plan for wellness. That said, these are incredibly powerful ingredients to a successful strategy—we just have to resist the desire to evaluate them independent of the other components.

Personally, I see it like this:

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Think about it. If I offered $5 to do 100 jumping jacks, I’d have very few takers. If I offered $1,000 I’d have nearly 100 percent engage. If I offered $1 million dollars, but said they had to be done in 10 seconds, I would immediately lose all interest. The incentive value doesn’t matter if the goal is viewed as unrealistic. The best program designs combine personalized improvement goals with large enough incentives to motive sustained engagement, and well-designed personalized tools to help individuals achieve the goal. Thank you for letting Bravo be part of helping your company and your people find the right mix.