When I'm meeting with groups about corporate wellness, I sometimes find what I like to call "The Great Divide" in how to approach the topic. There are those who subscribe to more traditional wellness options that require employer-directed engagement at work, with tools like pedometers that measure success once a month; and there are companies already using the latest technology, mobile, gaming and social trends to help employees engage one another independently, challenging them to improve their health outcomes in real-time.
My question is, why does it have to be one or the other? In my experience as both a personal weight loss success story, and social wellness sales guy, I see why both schools of thought have the ability to achieve the same goal. However, I'm a firm believer that we must evolve with our environment and interests to truly make an impact on employee wellness.
Let's face it, less than half of employees nationwide are engaging in healthy activities to improve their health, and over two-thirds of our country is overweight or obese. I've not seen more convincing statistics that corporate wellness is needed. Increasingly, many companies are seeing the return on investment in corporate wellness through sick days and health care costs.
Social Gamification in Corporate Wellness
In 2011, the Pew Research Center found that 83 percent of U.S. adults have a cell phone, and 42 percent of those people have a smartphone. Additionally, according to Worldometers, 1,630,625,048 people use the internet every day, with this number increasing each moment likely by the time you finish this sentence.
Think about it - how paralyzed would you be at work if your computer failed you? Does your reliance on your phone cause you to check your pocket or purse for it each time you leave your home, enter a building, or drive to work? If you're like me, you'll even go back home to pick it up in the morning.Social gamification uses this reliance on technology as a healthy advantage.
Instead of engaging in wellness activities with your work colleagues only at the office, social gamification makes your overall health and happiness a way of life - all managed online or through your smartphone. Here's an example. Just two years ago I weighed 30 pounds more than I do now, and was being treated by a doctor for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Determined to walk the talk I've been preaching at Hubbub, I began walking, and eventually running, my way to better health.I also started socializing on my smartphone by bragging about my workouts, and challenging my friends and family to keep me motivate through their own successes. It worked. Now I'm not only lighter, but I'm off all of my blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications.
How Employees and Employers View the Wellness Game
From an employee perspective, social gamification allows employees to check in day or night about their progress, not just during business hours. It also expands their circle of wellness to friends, family and even strangers who join their challenges, and offer them healthy encouragement and peer motivation.
Meanwhile, the devices (computers and mobile phones) employees are on all day anyway can be utilized at home or at work. In short, employees aren't limited to work-driven, short-term wellness challenges - and because it's the employees driving the challenge, they are in charge and more engaged.
Meanwhile employers have increasingly recognized the benefit in social gaming and wellness as these programs have a proven higher utilization rate among employees, there isn't a lag time in preparing wellness reports and statistics on employee progress as is often found in traditional wellness programs, and results are available in real-time.
Most importantly, employers have been impressed with the lower price tag for many social gamification programs.
Improving Processes and Systems Across the Board
As companies must update systems and processes to stay relevant and competitive, leadership must recognize that a new train has pulled into the corporate wellness station, and they don't want to be left on the platform. Energizing employees to use the devices they are already engaged in all day for the benefit of their health simply makes good business sense.
About the Author
Brian Berchtold is the Director of Business Development for Hubbub Health, a platform that uses the latest technology and social gaming methods to inspire and motivate people to have fun and be healthy. In addition to focusing on individual users of Hubbub, the group also partners with employers of all sizes to help them encourage, support and reward their employees to challenge themselves.
Brian is a success story for Hubbub Health, having lost over 30 pounds and having cut out all of his cholesterol-controlling medications using Hubbub. He credits his success to Hubbub's friendly support network, and his partnership with Hubbub's health coaches, offered to employers for a small fee.
In fact, Brian completes his second full marathon in four months this month, using Hubbub as motivation. Hubbub is available through the App store, and also online at HubbubHealth.com. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to learn more about Hubbub Health.