Increasingly, employers are using incentives in an attempt to urge workers to take steps to improve their health, according to new survey results from Aon Hewitt. Incentives may come in the form of a reward, such as payment for reducing body mass index, or by imposing a consequence if the employee does not make a required step, such as completing a health survey. Either way, U.S. employers are becoming more involved in encouraging the work force to take action on behalf of their health.

"Employers recognize the first step in getting people on a path to good health is providing employees and their families with the opportunity to become informed and educated about their health risks and the modifiable behaviors that cause those risks," said Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer for health and benefits at Aon Hewitt.

Aon Hewitt, a human-resource company, surveyed nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers representing more than 7 million employees and found that 83 percent offer workers incentives for participating in health-related programs – 79 percent in the form of a reward, 5 percent in the form of consequences and 16 percent using a mix of both rewards and consequences. Employee health actions may include taking a health risk questionnaire (HRQ) or participating in biometric screenings.