Since research has proven financial incentives and penalties to be highly effective in motivating weight-loss, there’s been an uptick in the number of organizations looking to capitalize on the cash-driven dieting idea and add their spin to an already crowded marketplace. The trick, both for employers seeking to bolster workplace wellness programs and for individuals looking for an extra source of motivation to shed a few (or more) pounds, is determining the legitimacy of the organization in question. Choosing poorly could make the entire endeavor a bust or, worse, could land you in the heart of a scam.
According to the experts at HealthyWage—an industry-leading purveyor of corporate and team-based weight-loss challenges and cash-driven diet contests for individuals, both employers and individuals, alike, should consider the following when looking to start a pay-for-pounds program:
1. Prize funding.
Where does the prize money come from? Is it guaranteed and, if so, how is it guaranteed? Know how you’re being paid for your success, and the safeguards that have been put into place to guarantee payout when the time comes. Also important is to know when payments will be made and the options for receiving those prizes, noting any fees involved or possible causes for delay. If the organization you’re dealing with does not have quick and upfront answers to these questions, it may be wise to move along.
2. Tools & Accountability.
A large part of weight-loss success, with or without financial incentives, are the tools and accountability measures provided along the way. What tools, resources and overall support mechanisms does the organization or program offer to help you be successful? An initiative lacking in resources and/or any sort of accountability program may not have your weight-loss best interest in mind. Don’t discount what is (or is not) provided for your benefit—to ultimately facilitate your success—during the diet process.
3. Verified weigh-ins.
A process for verifying weight both at the start and finish of a challenge-driven program, whether through a third-party or some other clearly defined protocol, is essential for eliminating fraudulent participants and ensuring payout when it’s is due. If there is no verification or audit process in place, or the established process can be easily undermined, the program and its reward are most likely too good to be true.
4. Better Business Bureau.
It’s prudent to always check with the Better Business Bureau before doing business with any online company (or most any other company, for that matter). Check the rating—nothing less than an “A” should be acceptable. If there are complaints, make sure they’ve been resolved and read through the corresponding information that the company has provided in response to any issue before moving forward.
5. Credible testimonials and reviews.
Both corporate partner and actual participant testimonials will speak volumes when it comes to the legitimacy of the organization you are dealing with. Media coverage should also be considered. What media outlets are covering the organization, and are any high profile? And, what exactly do they have to say about the programs being offered? Look for testimonials from Fortune 500 companies, major national magazines, top-tier newspapers and major network TV coverage.
Who is behind the company and the programs offered? While most organizations will tout the body of research highlighting the effectiveness of employing financial incentives and penalties for inducing weight-loss, dig a little deeper to understand the background of those designing and contributing to the actual weight-loss programming. Industry experts, physicians and researchers should be present, either on staff or in advisory roles.