Jobsandcareer.com organizes the most comprehensive job and career advice/news.
In the effort to make workers healthier, employers and insurers have dangled carrots. They've threatened with sticks. Now, they are trying games.
The latest way to nudge people to improve their health is to make it fun and competitive, and take some techniques borrowed from online games like FarmVille, to incentivize them in other settings. Anna Mathews explains on Lunch Break. Photo: Zynga.
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.
Geologist Deanna Gerwin enrolled in the game offered by her employer, Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. She selected healthy tasks that she was already doing, such as getting eight hours of sleep a night. But when she saw that other employee teams were outstripping hers, she ramped up her efforts to generate more points, such as eating fruits and vegetables five times a day and walking 10,000 steps daily. On weekends, she logged in to do extra health quizzes that padded her point total. Soon she made it into the top 10 in the rankings.
"I was surprised I got so into it," says Ms. Gerwin, who says she rarely plays traditional digital games such as "Angry Birds."
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.