When the Pokémon GO app came on the scene, an unexpected benefit came along with it: getting game players out of the house. Users have commented that they find they run more errands and stop procrastinating on tasks if for no other reason than to catch more Pokémon out in the world. The app gives a “reward” of points if the user is out in a new place.
The Pokémon GO app is a simple example of gamification—making activities more fun and engaging by turning them into games.
What if we could use similar tactics to boost employee participation in wellness programs higher than the typical 20 percent to 40 percent? What if turning the less fun stuff into games got your employees more involved in their own wellness? It’s popular and effective in education, training—and more and more so in healthcare.
Apps and mobile technologies provide us with extensive possibilities for games that can get people on board with wellness, connect them in fun ways with their coworkers to help build a strong health culture, and encourage specific healthy behaviors like losing weight or stopping smoking. All the same elements of game play, social interaction, competition, and achievement that have made people flock to games like Wordscapes, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and even classics like Scrabble can push employees to hit the trails, monitor health indicators, stay on top of appointments, and interact more meaningfully with their doctors.
Many game concepts and systems can work with wellness apps and programs, such as rewards-based games. Consider a points program that tracks daily milestones for steps. Once employees collect enough points, they can exchange them for things like free yoga classes or exercise gear. Even the prizes can advance wellness goals.
The intrinsic personal motivations for health and wellness can also encourage and sustain behavior even without external rewards and merits. Games based on these internal motivations can establish and sustain deeper, more lasting positive wellness behaviors. And because of advances in game app development, wellness games can be really cool and fun for people to play.
4 Things to Consider for Making Games Part of Your Health and Wellness Program
There’s extensive research into applying games to encourage active participation in healthy lifestyles, including some serious academic study. So where do you start if you are thinking about making games part of your employee health and wellness program? Experts recommend several things:
- Keep games simple, achievable, and easy to monitor, with healthy challenges and competitions to motivate users.
- Design games with employee benefits and experience in mind—not the organization’s. Remember that the games are a means, not the end, and it will help you focus on game options that best help your employees embrace their healthiest lifestyles.
Putting the user’s benefits at the center of the games greatly improves the chances of adoption and long-term change through intrinsic motivation. If users see games as ways for the company to administer a program or keep tabs on employees, they won’t be likely to jump in enthusiastically.
Keep employee health benefits in mind by considering how incorporating gamification into your wellness program can help:
- Engage employee participation
- Promote positive behavior change
- Encourage social collaboration and culture
- Make the program fun
- Get the family involved if possible. An interesting study showed that game-playing subjects dramatically increased and committed over time to walking activity when other family members played along, collaborating on goals and motivating each other.
- Find the right partner to help. Gamification can deliver big payoffs for personal health and wellness but can also be complex. Work with an expert committed to using technology innovation to improve employee health. A trusted partner will take time to understand the wellness goals of your employees and organization and help design and implement game apps and techniques that keep people focused and motivated on living their healthiest lives.
The right strategy and incorporation of health and wellness games for your employees can work to advance your overall wellness program goals:
- Enhance engagement in health
- Improve productivity at home and work
- Reduce healthcare costs for individuals and their employer
ALYKA Health offers employers a way to deploy gamification strategies like the ones outlined above. With ALYKA Health, employees can earn points through health education, daily activity, medical screenings – and more. Contact ALYKA Health to start the conversation about how your teams can let the wellness games begin!