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Paying Employees to Stop Smoking - An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Smoking is one of the unhealthiest things a person can do to themselves. In addition to causing an assortment of cancers, health concerns, and eventually premature death, it is becoming more and more frowned upon in society as well as in the workplace.

Employees who smoke are more likely to have higher medical bills and more serious medical problems as a result, including various cancers, emphysema, and bronchitis. This presents a financial burden to employers as it often results in higher health insurance costs and more time taken off from work.

There are a number of reasons in the workplace why employers should encourage their employees not to smoke. They include:

  • Improved health for everyone. A smoke-free environment helps create a safer, healthier workplace. Fire hazards are reduced, and non-smokers will appreciate it as well, as they will not be subject to secondhand smoke.
  • Lowered health care costs. Direct health care costs to the company may be reduced when fewer employees smoke, and often times, insurance companies will lower health, life, and disability insurance coverage when employee smoking is lowered dramatically.
  • Lowered costs. Maintenance costs are lowered when workers do not have to clean up after smokers.
  • Increased productivity. As the employees' health improves as a result of no longer smoking, the amount of sick days or half days taken by employees is reduced significantly, allowing them to get more work done.

Paying Employees to Stop Smoking
It's obvious a work place benefits from fewer smokers. So how do you get your employees to quit smoking? One idea is to offer incentives to those who stop smoking. This can be done in a number of ways, including:

  • Cash incentives. Cash is always a great motivator. Set up a stop-smoking program and then offer cash to employees who reach their goals and remain smoke-free. While it is up to your discretion how much you offer, a good rule of thumb is $500 per year per employee who participates in the program.
  • Gift certificates. Gift certificates are another popular option. They can be to malls, restaurants, or generic gift cards that are good everywhere and always appreciated.
  • Paid time off. Some companies pay their employees to stop smoking via added vacation days.
  • Lowered insurance premiums. One of the best ways to help employees see how taking care of their health pays off is to offer lower insurance premiums.

Making It Work
Many companies have found a number of benefits to paying employees to stop smoking. It sounds great, but is it really a good idea? Some companies worry about the cost-effectiveness of the programs themselves. However, numerous studies have shown that employees who utilize stop-smoking programs lower their health services. This results in substantial savings to employers on the costs to implement and reward employees.

If credibility is a concern, consider drafting up a contract and have employees sign it. Most employers have found their employees are less likely to lie if they are asked to sign a statement that specifically states they will be truthful and held accountable for reaping the rewards of quitting smoking.

Paying employees to stop smoking is an excellent idea. Not only is it cost-effective to companies in the long run, but it results in a safer work environment, healthier employees, and increased productivity at work.

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