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Messaging, monetary incentives, and participation in wellness programs

Helena Szrek (Centre for Economics and Finance, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Vlad Gyster (Airbo, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Phil Darnowsky (AppFolio, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Ana Rita Farias (Center for Economics and Finance, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal) (Católica Research Centre for Psychological, Family and Social Wellbeing, Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Lisbon, Portugal)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 4 October 2019




Many companies in the USA have corporate wellness programs but are having trouble encouraging employees to take part in these programs. Even with monetary incentives, many employees do not join. The purpose of this paper is to consider whether timely reminders combined with monetary incentives improve participation in health benefit programs.


Employees of a large manufacturing company across multiple facilities were encouraged to enroll in a messaging service. Once a week, members received an SMS or e-mail reminder to complete a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and Health Action Plan (HAP). The authors segmented employees based on prior year health insurance plan choice and HRA participation to analyze current HRA and HAP completion, with and without intervention.


The intervention increased completion rates 6 percent for subgroups that completed the HRA in the prior year and 34–37 percent for those that did not.

Practical implications

Corporate wellness programs should develop good communication channels with employees. The effectiveness of such programs will depend also on employee engagement.


With better communication, companies could raise participation in corporate wellness programmes and potentially reduce some of the monetary incentives that they currently offer.



Szrek, H., Gyster, V., Darnowsky, P. and Farias, A.R. (2019), "Messaging, monetary incentives, and participation in wellness programs", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 12 No. 5, pp. 289-297.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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