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Gamification and Corporate Wellness

How does gamification encourage participation in corporate wellness programs?

by | May 21, 2022 | Tips and Hints

Obesity is one of the leading causes of death, affecting approximately 42.4% of Americans1. While this is a cause for concern for individuals, it also poses several challenges for companies, specifically when it comes to healthcare expenses.

With $190.2 billion spent annually to manage obesity-related diseases, many companies take it upon themselves to create wellness programs to reduce the company’s overall financial burden and to minimize health risks to employees; however, oftentimes these programs lack willing participation2.

This is when gamification comes into play. Gamification is the use of gaming concepts in a non-competitive environment, such as the workplace in order to encourage engagement among employees. Gamification can be introduced through healthy competition among staff by providing incentives or bonuses. A survey done by TalentLMS reported that 83% of individuals who practiced gamification in the workplace felt motivated, whereas 61% of individuals who practiced alternative methods were left feeling bored and unproductive3.

Companies across the nation practice the gamification method through their training programs in order to further engagement within their staff. Multinational company, Cisco, uses gamification within their social media training program by offering three sets of certifications.  Employees are encouraged individually and as a team to earn badges towards those certifications4. This effectively allows the employee to feel motivated to complete courses as well as supports social engagement among other employees.

Wellness programs through gamification

During this time, it is especially critical to live a healthy lifestyle through a proper diet and exercise. It sounds simple; however, it does have its challenges. Self-control is difficult to attain, especially when lack of motivation is involved.

With more companies moving to completely remote operation, wellness program integration is proving to become more apparent than ever. According to Forbes, one in three employees have expressed severe anxiety and stress after returning to an office setting after working remotely5.

It is possible to create a wellness program even if the company has moved to remote operation. Using apps and trackers, such as a Fitbit or smartwatch, which offers reminders for participants to stand and stretch at different intervals can encourage movement throughout the day. Companies can encourage participants to track their steps and progress through apps, like MyFitnessPal, where employees can add other employees as a support system among their friends list. The best part is both the smart tracker and app work simultaneously to keep the individual effectively on track.

Studies show that employee participation in wellness programs increases by 20% when the program offers rewards through friendly competition, employing gaming mechanics6. Rewards like stipends, gift cards, or recognition of the winner empowers individuals, creates a positive working environment among staff, and long-term participation.

Alternatively, your gamification programs could contain various activities such as the ones suggested below, reinforcing rewards in the form of incentives or bonuses.

  • A sporting event, like a company softball game or relays.
  • Health and wellness trivia
  • On-site morning workouts
  • Leaderboards
  • Point and Badge system

Creating an effective wellness program whether you’re remote or in-house can produce positive, lasting results, providing the program is designed with the employee in mind. Disneyland Resort Hotels in Anaheim, California implemented a leaderboard in the form of a traffic light for its laundry staff to further productivity. The idea, in theory, created a game using a red light to signify when the staff weren’t making their goals, yellow displayed when the staff was going too slow, while green showed they were hitting their goals. While this approach used gamification through a competitive setting and leaderboard incentives, this approach ultimately created a worse environment for employees. Employees reported skipping bathroom breaks just to keep up with quotas, while women who were pregnant struggled to keep up with required targets7. Ultimately, it created a more hostile working environment rather than a positive one.

As an employer, if you create a program that effectively benefits both the employee and the company, you will see a drastic change in productivity and morale among staff.

Encouragement in the workplace

When looking to create a strong wellness program, it is important to encourage staff to practice physical activity to support positive mental health. Challenges like asking staff to commit to a minimum of seven hours of sleep or daily breathing meditation sessions, encouraging staff to snack healthy or drink more water, or even creating a policy that eliminates any work emails after 7:00pm can bolster mental stability. However, many individuals aren’t committed to extensive physical activity, so start simple, and encourage them to stand more.

Employees who work in an office setting are often more sedentary, and therefore pose a significant risk for health-related issues, especially without ways to keep active throughout the day. Adding more physical activity can also improve mental stimulation and improve productivity.

A good way to encourage getting up is investing in height-adjustable desks. With proper set up and the increased use of gamification, these desks can improve employee health, increase productivity, and reduce healthcare costs.

Through gamified wellness programs, employers encourage strong social relationships among their staff and promote healthy habits within the workplace.

Contact us to learn more about our adjustable desks and how LifeDesk’s built-in technology — powered by StanData — allows employers to use gamification to build a more active and healthier workforce.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 30). Adult obesity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html#:~:text=Obesity%20is%20a%20common%2C%20serious,from%204.7%25%20to%209.2%25.
  2. National League of Cities Institute for Youth, education & families. Healthy Communities for a Healthy Future Economic Costs of Obesity Comments. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org/learn-the-facts/economic-costs-of-obesity/
  3. Pavlou, C. (2020, November 27). Gamification in the workplace: Examples and tips to engage employees. TalentLMS Blog. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.talentlms.com/blog/tips-gamification-workplace/#:~:text=What%20is%20gamification%20in%20business,and%20prizes%2C%20as%20extra%20motivation.
  4. Lau, L. (2014, February 5). How Cisco drives social media training with gamification. Gamification Co. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.gamification.co/2014/02/05/cisco-drives-social-media-training-gamification/
  5. Beheshti, N. (2021, August 4). Employee well-being is serious business-but gamification can make it fun, and build team morale. Forbes. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2021/08/04/employee-well-being-is-serious-businessbut-gamification-can-make-it-fun-and-build-team-morale/?sh=14bbe75a60b5
  6. Incentives for workplace wellness programs – shrm. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Documents/RAND_RB9842.pdf
  7. Lewis, N. (2021, July 6). Be careful: Gamification at work can go very wrong. SHRM. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/gamification-at-work-can-go-very-wrong.aspx