March 26, 2014
The inaugural Incentive “Safety & Wellness IQ” survey shows what most incentive professionals have been saying for some time: Companies are expanding their investments in these two fields, which can help cut clear and measurable costs off the corporate bottom line.

Nearly half (46.5 percent) of the 228 respondents surveyed said their 2014 safety and wellness program budgets have grown compared to last year. That compares to just 3.6 percent that cut these programs.

When it comes to safety programs, the most common (61.2 percent) goal is to reduce accidents and prevent injuries. But more than a third (34.7 percent) acknowledged that the main goals of their safety programs were financial — reducing healthcare costs, workers compensation costs, and absenteeism. 

The effectiveness of these programs is clearly a factor in their growth. Nearly three quarters (73.5 percent) rated their safety program either very or extremely effective, while an additional 22.4 percent called it somewhat effective.

Still, the one major criticism of safety incentive programs is that they discourage employees from reporting on-the-job accidents. The concern prompted one respondent to reply “that’s why our program gives incentives for taking safety training courses and quizzes, which are leading indicators of success, versus giving incentives for results.”

On the wellness front, 64.5 percent of the respondents said the goal of these programs was to improve employees’ health. About one-quarter (27.4 percent) cited improving productivity, cutting healthcare costs, or decreasing absenteeism. The most popular activities these programs encouraged employees to participate in were: physical fitness activities like walking (74.2 percent), regular medical check-ups (61.3 percent), smoking cessation programs (58.1 percent), health risk assessment (HRA) surveys (53.2 percent), and monitoring conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes (51.6 percent).