Social Gaming Tackles the Biggest Challenge in Corporate Wellness
Have you heard of Foursquare, Farmville, or Mafia Wars? If you use Facebook, chances are you have. These are examples of the new social games that are spreading quickly across the web and sweeping up hundreds of millions of users along the way. Mainstream use of social networking technology has paved the way for an entirely new approach to engaging users and influencing their behavior. These games are meant to be played by large groups of people and are structured in a way that compels users to invite their friends to participate. By creating games that rely on social interactions, game designers have pioneered powerful ways to engage lots of users and keep them involved over a long period of time.
Anyone involved in running employee wellness programs knows just how important – and challenging – engagement can be. In fact, in a recent Towers Watson survey, employers ranked lack of engagement as the single greatest obstacle they face. That’s why gaming is generating so much excitement and holds so much promise for the health care industry. Turning healthy activities into a game offers a unique and powerful way to improve employee well-being. We want people to take healthy actions – complete a health risk assessment, schedule an annual physical exam, participate in a weight loss intervention, exercise more, and quit smoking. It turns out that incorporating these activities into a social game makes people more likely – and makes more people likely – to do them.
Games motivate behavior by satisfying core human desires—things that we all want and need like reward, accomplishment, competition, status, and altruism. Game mechanics including points, levels, rankings, and teams all play into these core desires. Consider a company-wide weight loss challenge, one form of a social game that satisfies us on multiple levels. As we engage in a challenge, we earn points and increase our score, which gives us a feeling of accomplishment. Challenges tap into our competitive spirit by giving us a sense of status when we outperform our peers. Team challenges also play into our desire for altruism by giving us a reason to care about our team members and help motivate them to succeed. These are just a few of the many ways that games can drive engagement and ultimately change our behavior. By thinking more like game designers, those of us in health promotion can capitalize on human psychology and realize superior outcomes.
Using social games to drive employee wellness is a new but indispensable approach being adopted by leading companies across all industries. These organizations are quickly realizing the benefits of increased engagement and retention, significant health improvement, and a higher return-on-investment. They’ve also discovered that by bringing their employees together to have fun and help each other succeed, they’re building the kind of company culture that makes employees look forward to coming to work every day.
The benefits are compelling, and the goal is within reach. When it comes to employee wellness programs, let the games begin.
To learn more about how gaming can help your organization enhance your corporate wellness program, check out our latest webinar on How Competitions & Social Games Drive Employee Wellness.