Innovations Transforming Corporate Wellness: Gaming
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. In this post and others continuing weekly, we will further explore the following areas of corporate wellness innovation: social, gaming, mobile, devices, global, rewards, coaching, and networks.
For the second post in our series, we’ll cover the topic of gaming.
Gaming is a new area of innovation in corporate wellness, but it has been developing in the consumer space for some time. What’s great about the consumer space is that it is easy to roll out tools and apps to the general public, and then get feedback quickly as to what works and what doesn’t. Then over time as
people adopt these technologies en masse, and the technologies themselves mature, they become able to meet the needs and demands of the corporate workplace. This happened with social innovations—Facebook, Twitter, Friendster –
all these websites were in existence many years before corporations started to take on a social approach. And now we have social networking platforms like Yammer and Chatter, along with social wellness platforms, like ShapeUp, that are taking root in the corporate space.
This same trend is happening with gaming. Gaming in its newest form like Farmville and Angry Birds has been maturing for years in the consumer space, and its core concepts of engagement and behavior change are becoming relevant to the corporate wellness space.
But before we get into how, let’s first dispel a stereotype. Traditionally when we think about games, we have a picture in our mind of teenagers playing Nintendo, or something similar. But really when we talk about games, we’re talking about a certain type of programming that engages people in a fun and methodical way. So what’s interesting is that it turns out that almost everybody play games. The average social gamer today is a 43-year-old female. Games are changing the way we live, and in doing so they’re breaking stereotypes. The average social gamer? I bet she looks like a lot of the employees that work at your company.
The reason for this popularity is that to games are being incorporated into every aspect of our lives, including our health. Games fulfill our human desires to feel rewarded, to achieve status, to express ourselves, to compete, and to help others. With this list, you can see how catering to these desires goes hand-in-hand with increasing participation in your corporate wellness program. Specially, what we’re seeing is a lot of companies with corporate wellness programs are most often focusing on competitive aspect, as it allows the other components to be drafted in.
Competitions in corporate wellness are happening in corporate races,like 5Ks. They’re happening in weight loss challenges and Biggest Loser groups that are being formed on-site. And they’re happening on online platforms that promote physical activity and weight management.
Knowing this information about competitions, social wellness companies like ShapeUp are designing packaged games that have different themes, use different gaming mechanics, and have different rules. All of this combines to drive people to change their behavior and achieve their health goals, whether they are focused on physical activity, nutrition, or preventive care. And the best part is that this is that it doesn’t have to be top-down programming; what is really innovative is when employees design the games themselves. For example, social wellness platforms enable an employee to challenge a colleague to go jogging today. And then they can track if the goal was accomplished, perhaps evening winning a prize for their accomplishment, depending on how the competition is structured and the gaming dynamics that are in play.
Another example is a “last one standing” challenge, where one employee can set a challenge for other employees in his or her network to go to the gym three times a week. If an individual does not go to the gym at least three times in a week, they are removed from the challenge. Those that do go to the gym at least three times in a week continue on until there is the last person standing: the person who has gone to the gym at least three times each week for as many weeks needed to win the challenge. Similar challenges can be set up to accumulate, for example a defined number of steps each day, or to eat five fruits or vegetables each day.
What’s great about games is that not only will they ramp up employee engagement in your corporate wellness program, but they also promote tracking, which is a great way for those of us in the corporate wellness space to achieve our goals. We know that when people set personal goals and track their progress toward reaching these goals, they’re much more likely to succeed. Behavior change research has demonstrated this. With daily tracking data, individuals get insights, and can make day-to-day adjustments based on their performance. Games get people tracking, as they have a new, engaging reasons to do so. In many instances, they will even want to share their results so they can inspire their team. This provides a feeling of obligation to all team members, and suddenly people are tracking all of their different health metrics over time. All this data not only provides great insight into their health and the motivation to achieve their goals, but it allows wellness professionals to determine how we’re improving the health of our populations over time. For example, one game that ShapeUp runs on our platform has been shown to reduce body mass index (BMI) in clinically significant ways. Over a 12-week period, this game shifts people down and out of the obese BMI category to the overweight category, out of the overweight category to the healthy weight category, moving participants down the weight spectrum to a healthier BMI. So participants are losing weight, exercising more, and reducing the BMI, all from a fun and engaging game.
This is why gaming is transformative. Not only because it drives engagement, but because it produces real outcomes. Games are truly transforming the way all of us think about producing health outcomes around the world.
innovations in wellness, gaming in employee wellness, games for corporate wellness