New Study on Wellness Carrots and Sticks

February 14th, 2013 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

A new survey finds that the American public finds the acceptable size of penalties for workplace wellness programs is much smaller than advocates for higher penalties have supported. A population-level on-line survey was fielded to 1,000 US residents. Positive incentive programs were favored by a factor of 4. The magnitude of acceptable penalty was around $50… 14 times lower than that advocated by then Safeway President Steve Burd and far above the 36 times greater than the penalty proposed by the Obama Administration. Harald Schmidt of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, author of the study, notes, “ ‘Carrots’ were clearly preferred over ‘sticks.’ In contrast to the preferences of advocates of increasing the legal limits of incentives, there was little support of large penalties in any of the strata. Opposition was strongest among low-income groups, the overweight and the obese. The findings can suggest that where larger penalties are used, frustration and perhaps even pushback is possible. Care is required to ensure that employees do not perceive any form of incentive program merely as unfair cost-shifting, and reject the approach as a whole.”


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