The Wellness Games

A recent trend in corporate wellness programs, aided by the tech startup industry, has been the explosion of wellness program “games”. Companies like Keas and US Corporate Wellness have had great success with their wellness program implementations. The question is whether the “gamification” of wellness is really necessary.

The answer, naturally, is “well, it depends.” Nothing like this is ever black and white. It all depends on your company, its employee base, the best way to get them motivated, and whether you want to sink money into a web- or app-based platform for your wellness program.

You need to ask yourself and your employees what motivates them, what methods you can use to promote wellness on a day-to-day basis, but more importantly… what methods they already use on a day-to-day basis.

An unquestioned positive to these “game”-style challenges is that we live in a mobile world. Apps are all over the place, website portals are ubiquitous, and since virtually everybody uses the Internet in the first place, having a web-based wellness platform is a natural way to get people to participate and learn.

Another benefit is that it allows for instantaneous data collection. If you’re doing your wellness program right, you know full well about the importance of data analysis and evaluation. You know how many people are taking part in which challenges, the fruits of their labor, and whether they enjoy the game(s) being offered.

These games also tap into the intrinsic human competitive spirit. If the games are being played for prizes (time off, sports tickets, cash, etc.), having an easy way to log their progress virtually ensures higher participation compared to a paper-and-pen, “analog”-era method. Pretty much everybody will have a smart phone or tablet hanging around when they exercise or eat. I don’t think you can say the same thing about a notebook and a pen. So when Group A goes out to lunch and all has salads, they can immediately log it into the website/app and lord it over Group B, who may or may not have settled for vending machine fare.

I wager that these types of wellness games are more apt to be embraced by the younger segments of the demographic. Those who have a greater drive for competition and a more natural grasp of modern technology will enjoy it immensely. Tech startups, younger companies, and the like would be more likely to embrace these methods than, say, an auto factory where most people aren’t around computers.

Personally, I see the benefits of having an easy way to log your progress… but at the same time, I don’t enjoy the increasing reliance on technology. It’s outstanding for data collection and analysis, no doubt about it. However, if you incorporate web- or app-based wellness games into your company’s wellness program, they need to be balanced with in-person initiatives. Nutrition seminars, group office activities, hard copy information, all of this should be there to help counteract the sometimes-asocial aspects of technology.

How does your company incorporate technology into its wellness programs, if at all? Is it exclusively tech? What do you do to encourage in-person initiatives?

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One Response to The Wellness Games

  1. Chris Rooney says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. It’s an interesting read and something which will become increasingly relevant as personal technology becomes even more ubiquitous

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