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The 10% Solution: Tying Managerial Salary Increases to Workplace Wellness Actions (and Not Results)

Robbins, Rebecca and Brian Wansink (2016). The 10% Solution: Tying Managerial Salary Increases to Workplace Wellness Actions (and Not Results)Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0039989

Employee health and wellness programs have been growing in popularity, however most approaches to these programs are individually focused and do not consider the use of managerial and supervisor support. This study investigated ways to incentivize managers to take meaningful roles in workplace wellness programs to positively impact employee health and well-being.

A total of 270 managers were surveyed online in order to assess how managers can be motivated to promote employee health and wellness. The survey proposed a policy that tied 10% or more of a manager’s annual salary increases and promotion to their actions to promote healthy choices among employees. The survey then asked questions assessing the managers’ reactions to companies with managerial evaluations for workplace wellness efforts, their preference for a company with managerial evaluations for such efforts, and which wellness efforts managers would be willing to implement. Descriptive statistics and multiple linear regression were used to analyze the results.

The results of this study found that managers have more favorable attitudes and reactions towards companies that have managerial evaluations for workplace wellness efforts than toward companies without such evaluations. Preference for working for a company with such evaluations was stronger for female managers and mangers with a fewer number of subordinates. Finally, eighteen workplace wellness efforts were prioritized based on the willingness of managers to implement them including “encouraging group exercise,” “holding a benefits fair for employees,” and “providing healthy snacks in meetings, common areas.”

The results of this study indicate that managers support the policy of being evaluated on their contribution to employee health and tying a percentage of their annual salary to these efforts. Thus, managerial evaluation of employee health is a promising strategy to improve health in the workplace.