Around the world, businesses big and small struggle with how to encourage their employees who smoke to give up the harmful habit. Not only is smoking bad for an employee’s health, but it causes them to take more breaks than their non-smoking colleagues. Smokers are of course also more likely to get sick and have other health complications that could slow them down, prevent them from working, and lead to big costs for the company’s health plan.
Earlier this year in the U.S., a select number of CVS pharmacies, which has thousands of locations across the country, participated in a research study that gave employees financial incentives to quit smoking. One group of employees selected by the researchers was asked to pay a $150 deposit at the beginning of the cessation program. If they successfully completed the program, the $150 would be returned to them in addition to a $650 bonus. Think of how much e-liquid and vaping supplies that kind of cash could buy.
Although most participants were not ultimately successful in quitting, the deposit and reward-based incentive program proved more effective than another test group of employees from the same study, who were offered free cessation aids like patches and gum. One of the researchers involved in the study, Dr. Scott Halpern, thinks that companies should be paying attention to the results.
“When you compare the fact that employers spend approximately $4,000 - $6,000 more per year to employ a non-smoker, then an incentive program that pays $800 only to those who succeed in quitting is obviously a win-win situation,” he said.
Now similar programs are being considered in Denmark. Although the concept has had some public backlash, the idea has been backed by Denmark’s National Cancer Society. It sounds to us like this is definitely something that U.K. companies should be looking into as well.