1) You measured numbers rather than improvement.
Wellness programs are about changing behavior, and should focus on specific, measurable, and trackable results. A recent Washington Post report suggests you build good habits that will actually stick.
However, picking a daily step count goal or a number of miles to walk in a 30-day period isn’t specific to each employee and will likely fail to create measurable results for the majority of participants. For example, a 10,000 step-per-day goal will be too high for some employees and quite literally a walk in the park for others.
Using a program such as Walkadoo by MeYou Health encourages individuals to increase activity, not simply hit a number. It is far more specific, easily measurable, and will create results better than the alternative. An increase from 5,000 steps per day to 7,000 steps per day is an admirable result for a sedentary participant. Yet if your contest only rewards reaching 10,000 steps per day, it counts as a failure.
2) You only engaged the motivated minority.
We all know employees who love a good wellness contest and are ready to jump in. This is usually the already fit, or already motivated-to-change crowd. But too often, the contest rewards only these sorts of employees, and not the ones who are less motivated or more sedentary.
Holding a competition with achievable goals for everyone is much more fun and motivating. In a Walkadoo Team Competition, for example, participants are randomly assigned to teams, which means that employees of varying activity levels are placed together. The competition is won by a team as a whole, so the winning team is the one with the most individual goals met within the team, not the employee with the most steps. This lets everyone in your company engage in the activity and gives each employee a fair chance of being a winner.
3) You focused on competition rather than support.
Workplace competitions often set up the most vulnerable as the “weak link” rather than providing them support for positive change.
Social support is essential for creating and maintaining new healthy habits. Employees are often too embarrassed to use the company gym or publicly ask for help. App-based wellness programs add a layer of comfort allowing people to communicate virtually in a supportive environment. Using technology such as smartphones to provide support and encouragement is often more successful.
4) You made it about one aspect of wellness.
Step challenges and weight-loss contests are only useful for employees who need to improve those areas of wellness. Other employees may find getting more sleep, managing stress, or even getting their financial house in order to be the most important aspect of wellness to improve.
Engaging employees with options rather than mandating a marathon runner participates in your daily step challenge allows for more personalized and effective progress toward a healthy workforce. MeYou Health’s Daily Challenge, for example, offers nearly 50 specialized well-being tracks and asks the participant to do one small, manageable health challenge each day.
5) You made it too complicated.
Your people are busy, and if they have to fill out a complex form to begin a program, your participation lags. If your contest requires too much daily time for the employee to track or record their progress, resentment of the program builds.
Choose a program with easy onboarding and a simple interface. Apps that connect a fitness tracker on a smartphone and deliver encouragement, rewards, and social support make it easy to participate and easy for your wellness efforts to be successful.
Avoiding these common reasons for failure will put your wellness competition on the right track for success.
About the Author:
Eliz Greene shares humorous stories and powerful insights about stress, balance, and productivity in the workplace from her research, through writings and keynote presentations. Eliz is a heart-attack survivor dedicated to leading others down a path to success and a healthy life, and resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her twin girls.