Innovations Transforming Corporate Wellness: Social
Not long ago, we held our “8 Innovations That Are Transforming Corporate Wellness” webinar. Following the event, we heard a desire from attendees to learn even more about the topics that were covered. In a series of blog posts, we will do just this. Starting with this post and continuing weekly, we will further explore the following areas of corporate wellness innovation: social, gaming, mobile, devices, global, rewards, coaching, and networks.
To kick off the series, let’s cover potentially the largest area of innovation: social.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed an explosion of social networking websites, apps, and other tools. While this explosion is fun and exciting and has helped a lot of people to engage with different products and services on the Internet, those of us in corporate wellness want to know how a social approach to wellness could benefit us.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard published a great deal of research that helped us think about how social networks and health interface. As the title indicates, what Dr. Christakis found in his landmark study, “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years,” was that obesity spread within social networks. But Dr. Christakis’s research was just the tip of the iceberg. ShapeUp recently partnered with Dr. Tricia Leahey of The Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center on a study of weight loss outcomes in our program, and it was found that healthy behaviors are social and they spread within social networks. This research found that when one person loses weight, the people around that person are significantly more likely to lose weight, and in fact, weight loss happens in clusters. Weight loss is contagious. And exercise is contagious, too!
What this means for corporate wellness is that we can purposefully exploit social networks for health and design interventions to be social with a goal of health improvement; we can spread healthy behaviors throughout the population. This gives us the hope and the goal of transforming the health of our employee population, and in turn the health of the world.
There are several ways that we can use the Internet to harness this social influence on health and drive outcomes that spread virally. These tactics form the basis of ShapeUp, a social wellness platform that spreads health in a population. Participants on the ShapeUp platform can start by inviting colleagues and potentially other individuals to join them on their healthy journey. And from this participants begin determining the people that have the greatest influence on their health, the people they like to participate with in health activities, and those who have similar interests and goals that can serve as motivators and supporters. Once this network is identified, participants can join healthy activities other network members are participating in.
Which brings us to the tactic of letting employees support each other, and this is extremely powerful. Many innovative organizations have started to give this ability to employees in a bottom-up, organic way. They let employees drive wellness interactions and customize their wellness program, a major component of which is letting employees connect with and support one another. This naturally leads to the next tactic – employees forming groups and teams around common interests, and holding members accountable to plans and goals.
These tactics combine, and complemented with others, make up “social,” a truly transformative innovation for corporate wellness programs. It is social that is at the core of many other areas of innovations we will discuss in upcoming posts, and it is social that facilitates connections to form networks, driving engagement and real results in corporate wellness. Due to its viral nature, social is the fun, bottom-up alternative to a traditional top-down program, and it helps reach critical mass. With social, fifty-eight percent of your population can become activated, engaged, setting goals, and working together to improve their health, and the health of those around them. And that’s when you see the tipping point, where corporate culture shifts, everyone begins working together, and the health of your population moves in a positive direction.
- Going Viral: How Social Networks Spread Employee Wellness
- Report: How To Add Social Networking To Your Employee Wellness Program
wellness innovations, social wellness, social