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Strategies for Building Wellness and Incentive Programs that Drive Health Savings

June 24th, 2021 | 1 min. read

By Kristy Esch

Employers spend millions of dollars on digital tools to manage incentives and wellness challenges every year, but average engagement is less than 10%. That’s a lot of spend for little return. Well-designed health incentive programs improve health and lower costs for both employees and employers.

As part of our recent webinar, How to Build an Incentive Strategy that Actually Drives Health Savings, host Shelly Towns, CMO of Marathon Health, spoke with Jennifer Lowry, Senior Manager, Incentive Design for Marathon Health, about actionable takeaways employers can make to improve employee health and increase engagement.

Lowry, who led a wellness program for a large employer for over eight years, shares that good incentive programs begin with designing around the goals of the employer and aligning with the organization’s vision and culture. The discussion includes information on developing high-performing programs, incentive reward values, and tips to migrate from participation-based to outcomes-based programs.


During the webinar, 39% of participants who took our poll said they offer employee health and wellness incentive programs that do not drive great results. Another 28% of participants currently do not offer incentive programs. Of those who offer incentive programs, 66% said their program is based on participation versus outcomes (34%).

Lowry encourages employers to revisit incentive and wellness strategy programs to ensure they continue to align with your original goal or adjusting to accommodate changes due to a different employee population, regulation updates, or to integrate new technologies. In addition to taking a holistic approach to wellness and incentive programs, such as including behavioral health and financial wellness, she encourages employers to look ahead and evolve their programs.

Of participants polled, 55% do not have a two- or three-year plan for structuring their incentive programs (and 52% of those would like to have a plan for the future).

Even if you don’t currently have an incentive program, want to improve it or plan for the future, watch our video for some key takeaways to get started.

Want to learn more about Wellness Challenges that drive healthier behaviors?
Download our cheat sheet below.

Connect with our Panel

Jenny-Lowry-Marathon-Health-200x200Jennifer Lowry
Director, Incentive Design

Shelly-Towns-Marathon-Health-200x200Shelly Towns
Chief Marketing Officer