Maritz Wellness Program Study Identifies Factors that Motivate Healthy Behaviors

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Study Shows Rewards, Choice and Social Networks Drive Results

The Centers for Disease Control say most chronic health problems are preventable with lifestyle changes. As a result, employers are turning to wellness programs. However, an Aon Hewitt survey released last June found that 56 percent of wellness program managers say “motivating participants to promote behavior change” is the most significant challenge to accomplishing health care program goals. In light of these challenges, Maritz recently conducted a study with its own employees to test a science-based wellness approach, rooted in understanding the individual in order to motivate healthy behaviors.

Using the work of The Maritz Institute as a foundation, professionals from Maritz Research, Maritz Motivation Solutions and The Maritz Institute formulated a point of view on wellness programs. This point of view aligns with The Maritz Institute’s people principles, which are based on the latest research and thinking in the human sciences.

“We tested a progressive health approach focused on four key aspects of health: physical activity, prevention, mental well-being and nutrition,” said Amy Kramer, solution design strategist and wellness expert for Maritz Motivation Solutions. “In this study, we leveraged rewards, choice and organizational and social support to help people engage and take ownership of their health.”

Specifically, Maritz tested different healthy behavior adoptions with varying combinations of rewards, a choice between walking and journaling, and a social aspect. Approximately 300 Maritz employees participated in the study, which examined the following:

  •     What is the impact of rewards vs. no rewards on wellness behavior?
  •     What is the impact of having a choice relative to wellness behaviors vs. no choice?
  •     What is the impact of social support vs. no social support?

The findings reported more physical activity among those who received rewards (points) and among those given a choice about their wellness behavior (walking with a pedometer vs. positive attitude journaling). Rewards had twice the impact for people who didn’t do much walking before the study. Additionally, those who were assigned a social aspect as part of their activities reported an increase in average daily steps on a pedometer.

“These results tell us that by considering personal motivators and giving organizations the right tools, we can design a wellness program that engages people,” added Kramer.

“Our experience in designing best-in-class motivation and employee engagement programs translates well to improving the impact of wellness programs. For example, we found that people naturally bonded over having a pedometer, which actually sparked competition among participants,” Kramer noted.

However, results weren’t limited to walking. Those incented with rewards points completed positive attitude journaling 25 percent more often than those who were not incented. There were also self-reported positive results across all treatments:

  •     26 to 31 percent of participants lost weight
  •     48 to 58 percent reported increased energy
  •     46 to 50 percent reported a positive mindset
  •     60 percent reported some other health benefit

For full results of the Maritz study and details on creating more effective wellness programs, download the executive summary and accompanying whitepaper, “Starting a Wellness Revolution.”

About Maritz Motivation Solutions
Based in St. Louis, Maritz Motivation Solutions is part of the Maritz family of companies. It offers full-service reward and recognition, sales incentive and channel loyalty programs to U.S. and global companies. Maritz Motivation Solutions delivers best-in-class rewards and fulfillment services, including purposefully-chosen merchandise and experiences that excite, motivate and recognize people. The people who work for Maritz Motivation Solutions are dedicated to being the best in the business, fun to work with and their clients’ most valuable ally. For more information, visit or call 1-877-4MARITZ. Follow us on Twitter @Maritz_LLC.

About The Maritz Institute
The Maritz Institute is a network of thought leaders advancing the human sciences in business. Through a deeper understanding of people, Maritz solutions help companies achieve strategic goals by engaging stakeholders in ways most meaningful to them. Simply stated, our mission is to help create “Better Business. Better Lives.”

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Jennifer Larsen
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