Be Well at Work: Workplace Wellness and Motivation

Workplace Wellness
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Investing in workplace wellness has been a hot topic with the rapid adoption of programs among established companies. With such fast and widespread adoption, many people and companies have called into question the effectiveness and financial practicality of these programs.

In a January 2016 article published in the Society for Human Resource Management, Stephen Miller cites research looking at the 45 companies posting top scores on the HERO scorecard for workplace wellness practices.

The stock prices of these companies rose an average of 235 percent from 2009 to 2014, as compared to an average of 159 percent among the companies listed in the S&P 500 in that time frame.

Paul Terry, CEO of HERO, and Ray Fabius, study co-author and co-founder of HealthNEXT, believe that these findings support that maintaining healthier employees results in higher productivity and performance while increasing a sense of engagement in their work and leading to lower turnover rates (1).

Motivation Strategies for Workplace Wellness

What does effective workplace wellness look like? Research from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates that using negative punishment is as much as 50 percent more effective than positive reinforcement.

In a 13 week study of 281 employees with a daily step goal of seven thousand, participants were either given $1.40 for every day they met their goal or they were given the full $42 reward at the beginning of each month and had to return $1.40 for every day they missed their step goal (2).

While loss-aversion works in the short-term, it’s worth asking if the tradeoff to resentment from employees. Especially since other methods work well, such as developing intrinsic motivation through rewarding efforts rather than outcomes, and developing a sense of social belonging while tying the process to something meaningful to the employees.

Self-Determination Theory, a seminal work in motivation dives much deeper into the importance of intrinsic motivation and internalized extrinsic motivation (3).

Active Design for Workplace Wellness

Active Design for Workplace Wellness

Active design is another strategy that has had success by designing or simply rearranging the workspace to encourage movement. This includes having signage to direct employees to the stairs and encouraging employees to choose the stairs over the elevator.

Additionally, making natural light more available, encouraging face-to-face communications and offering either a variety of height work surfaces can all make improvements in employee health and productivity.

These all help without needing complicated incentive structures that may lead to lower long-term motivation (2).

In summary, research has shown that among companies who have successful workplace wellness programs, the financial returns and competitive advantage are clear. However, there are questions as to what methods to adopt.

It is crucial to consider how it will integrate into the company culture, what resources are available for incentive programs, or in developing an environment conducive to health, well-being, and productivity. Our Golden Home Fitness coaches streamline your workplace wellness services by coming right to you on-site; call (844) 704-9477 for a free coaching session!


  1. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/wellness-corporate-performance.aspx
  2. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/fitness-incentives-active-design.aspx
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264531505_Self-Determination_Theory_and_Physical_Activity_The_Dynamics_of_Motivation_in_Development_and_Wellness
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