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Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal
Pitting Employees Against Each Other … for Health
In the effort to make workers healthier, employers and insurers have dangled carrots. They’ve threatened with sticks. Now, they are trying games.
A growing number of workplace programs are borrowing techniques from digital games in an effort to encourage regular exercise and foster healthy eating habits. The idea is that competitive drive—sparked by online leader boards, peer pressure, digital rewards and real-world prizes—can get people to improve their overall health.
A survey of employers released in March by the consulting firm Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health found that about 9% expected to use online games in their wellness programs by the end of this year, with another 7% planning to add them in 2013. By the end of next year, 60% said their health initiatives would include online games as well as other types of competitions between business locations or employee groups.
Sprout is determined to make employers and employees healthier. With more and more money being spent on wellness, companies need a solution to deliver their offerings enterprise wide. Sprout has launched an innovative program that helps companies manage and quantify corporate wellness. Employing social networking and gaming techniques, Sprout achieves these objectives with a program that is simple to use, engaging and measurable.
Excerpt from an article on Benefits Canada
“How do you drive engagement, making people feel like where they are is the right place for their future?” asked Scot Marcotte, managing director, talent and HR solutions, with Buck Consultants.
He noted that there are three areas in which employers can help to engage employees—career, health and wealth—through the use of technology. By helping employees with one or all of these issues, employers can reduce absenteeism, combat presenteeism (employees coming to work while sick and/or disengaged) and create a more effective workforce, Marcotte said.
Engaging talent is a science, he explained. And employers can consider various tactics from this discipline. They can look at persuasive technologies, for example, behavioural economics (i.e., what motivates people to make a change); predictive analytics (the way people behave in aggregate); ethnography (behaviour); and social media/gamification (using the wow or fun factor).
Small businesses account for about 4.6 million employees – 31% of working Canadians. These employers stand to benefit enormously from having healthy employees, since absenteeism, reduced productivity and other health-related costs cannot be absorbed as readily in small businesses as in large ones.
Yet many small business owners assume that investing in a wellness program is too expensive for them. It needn’t be so, says Noel MacKay, group practice leader of the Williamson Group, a benefits consulting and financial services firm in Brantford, Ont. with 65 employees. “It all depends on how you define wellness. You can start small.”
That’s what founder Paul Williamson did when he started the company 35 years ago with one employee, adding many more wellness features as the number of employees grew.
The company now pays the entry fee for employees and their family members who wish to run in the annual 10K or 5K Brantford Classic race. For the past four years, it organized an in-house program in which eight employees go for a run together at the end of the day.
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