Business of Well-being

Money for Wellness: Mobilizing Employees to Be Active and Healthy

The great challenge concerning corporate wellness is a matter of how, instead of why. That is, the question of the importance of this issue asks and answers itself; we know that a healthy workforce, sound in mind and body, makes for a more productive and cooperative environment.

How a company chooses to pursue this goal - the manner in which it inspires and sustains people's interest in this endeavor - is something else, entirely. My suggestion, in lieu of hiring motivational speakers, and doctors and nutritionists to encourage a captive audience of men and women to be "healthy," is to marry a universal incentive (cash) with a global form of technology (mobile devices) to achieve a desirable outcome: A newly active workforce, running and walking to designated spots (to be the first to transfer digital dollars to their smartphones or tablets) throughout a sprawling campus or in multiple directions, based on the layout of a city or a suburban area.

In so doing, a company can choose where it places each container or cache (of cash) to serve at least two purposes. First, imagine a wide network of markers - picture a vast urban or metropolitan web of geometrical sophistication and radial threads, where each marker is home to a fitness trainer, a weight loss center, a food specialist and an internist, respectively - that makes this adventure both fun and educational.

And secondly, envision a way to easily track the responses to this program; to see, in real-time, how your workforce responds to this plan and how long they stay (to learn more about improving their health) at each spot.

As the Founder of The SpareCash ( application for Android and iOS, I present this option as a means to reinvigorate the purpose and effect of corporate wellness; to mobilize those with mobile devices, so we get people moving (and burning calories) while teaching them about the rewards - financial, physical and psychological - of good health.

Indeed, the reason so many of these conventional attempts at promoting wellness fail is not because of lack of information; the Internet abounds with news and commentary about seemingly all medical conditions, including data about palliative care and homeopathic remedies.

The reason employees tend to ignore this material or passively absorb (without listening to) the words of assorted health care experts, until the speeches and seminars become an auditory melange of buzzwords and acronyms about BMI (body mass index), EMR (Emergency Medical Record), FSA (Flexible Savings Account) and IDN (Integrated Delivery Network); the reason this system does not work is because it is boring!

Making Wellness Fun and Exciting

If this suggestion appears simple, and it purposefully is, it is because companies too often separate fun and excitement from teaching people about improving their health. At the same time, the incentives for change are more intangible and more illusive to employees who would otherwise have an interest in bettering their lives.

As a result, many wellness initiatives wane - reconstituting themselves as a stack of unread white papers, internal memoranda and the so-called "snowflakes" of communiques between bureaucracies - that find permanent shelter under the ever-expanding storage facility for Lost Causes and Good Intentions.

My suggestion, as an advocate for corporate wellness, takes the path of least resistance (abetting workers to increase their use of mobile devices) by following the destination of the greatest popularity (free money). How a company structures that journey - how it strategically inserts and reinforces the theme behind this experience - is a task of undeniable significance.

By making the event enlightening and entertaining, with a clear financial bonus (or bonuses, plural), opens a new world of corporate wellness. In that place, there are no restrictions on creativity, no limits on the interactive combination of technology and personal engagement.

It is this recognition of needs and wants - the human desire for fellowship and fun - that can revolutionize corporate wellness in general and an individual's health in particular. With cash as a reward, and with newfound knowledge about improving health care as an added dividend, a single application can be the catalyst for an informed, active and vigilant workforce. By that standard, corporate wellness is - and should be - a top priority.

About the Author

Dale Scott Marion is an entrepreneur, and the recipient of various design and technology development awards. His latest venture, SpareCash introduces new forms of marketing and advertising for a diverse array of businesses, from startups to Fortune 500 corporations worldwide.

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