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With reports of increasing obesity and diabetes being prevalent in nearly 50% of all Americans, you probably worry about the health of your employees and how it affects your overall group health insurance costs. From your employees’ point of view, work life doesn’t seem conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Temptation to eat fast food on the go, plus too much sitting at a desk all day gets scoped out as reasons why bad health is inevitable.

But what if you, as a business owner, can curb some of those negative effects? After all, the fewer times an employee has to use their health insurance, the lower your rates could get. So maybe it’s time you find some ways to incentivize healthy employee initiatives so you can have a healthier staff and keep your insurance premiums down.

Many of the best incentives for employees aim toward ingenuity and the use of psychology so employees feel inspired getting involved in your initiatives. It doesn’t necessarily mean being motivated by money, though any idea that forces employees to pay for their bad health habits can bring quick changes in attitudes.

When it comes to breaking some unhealthy habits, some people need more dramatic means before they commit to getting healthy. With that in mind, take a look at ways you can get your employees to join your health initiatives and stick with them for the rest of their careers.

Wellness Programs

Creating subsidies for employees to attend health classes is a great integration of financial and health rewards. Years ago, you probably remember health initiatives that involved memberships to expensive gyms. Most people consider this contrived today, especially when some luxury gyms don’t have the best atmospheres for everyone.

Subsidies for yoga programs or exercise classes can occur during normal work hours. A yoga class, for instance, could take place during a lunch hour for a way toward physical health awareness before finishing the day.

Imposing Consequences

The New York Times did a report on this controversial incentive a couple of years ago, and they noted how it’s brought lawsuits for being overly invasive. This hasn’t stopped many companies from imposing consequence programs when other initiatives don’t motive employees enough to take action.

Financial penalties are sometimes just what someone needs to finally quit smoking or lose weight. In the New York Times piece, they cite CVS enacting a health incentive program that imposes stiff fines every year if employees don’t comply. They aren’t the only ones, with Wal-Mart and Pepsi getting into the mix in recent years.

Stocking Healthy Food in Your Break Room

The good news about health food is that it’s not just about rice cakes and carrot sticks. You can buy numerous health foods now that still taste good. Some products put considerably less sodium into their foods, and some snacks have at least 50% less sugar.

Go to your local grocery and stock up on the best foods for your break room, including more fruits and vegetables. Employees tend to forget that many fruits and veggies taste amazing and beat eating processed foods for a sugar fix. And if you’re concerned about the cost of stocking healthy food, consider how much more you and your employees might end up spending on medical expenses in the long term.

Voluntary Health Pools

Sometimes you’ll have employees who volunteer to get healthier with their own motivation. By providing health pools or contests, it gives employees a real goal to achieve. Weight loss pools are some of the most popular, where companies use NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” guidelines to set the goal line.

Having your employees losing weight does more good at once since it collectively helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar just for starters. Even if your employees don’t get down to a perfect weight, whoever loses the most should get a reward. Don’t discount those rewards being a financial bonus.

Whether you run a company of 5 employees or 500, the question of group health care and its related costs will always be on your mind. With these healthy employee incentives, you can do your part to not only lower your premiums in the long term, but take a sincere interest in the lives and health of your valued employees.