From more significant cost savings to better productivity, higher employee engagement to a stronger team community and company culture, healthcare gamification has a prominent role to play as organizations strive to achieve these objectives through their corporate wellness programs, with digital enablers enhancing experiences and encouraging people to actively join the game.
Gamification has emerged as an area of heightened interest, becoming established as an invaluable behavioral change tool that encourages and ensures people take the necessary steps to maintain their health and well-being. As such, more and more organizations – from small to large – are now implementing gamification as part of their corporate wellness programs to boost employee engagement, drive permanent behavioral changes to their lifestyles, and reduce healthcare costs.
As Human Resources professionals are striving to accomplish these goals, gamification and technology come into the fold, with digital enablers enhancing experiences and commitment to the game.
In terms of how healthcare gamification works, organizations enroll their staff into a program using a mobile app and connected devices, such as smart bands, watches, and water bottles. Employees then receive personalized goals covering health and well-being factors, including calories burnt, water consumption, sleep patterns, and physical activity.
There are also important aspects within these gamification phases to consider. One is that gamification techniques are used to engage players, such as motivational messages, achiever badges, challenges among peers, and leaderboards. Another is the motivational element of gamification. When daily or weekly goals are achieved, people earn points and ultimately redeem them into gifts from rewards catalogs. Rewards can be personalized based on the employee profile, and ultimately include perks related to the organization’s business or be part of Human Resources plans and initiatives.
Organizations see the opportunity of gamification not just in getting employees healthy, but in employee retention, culture change, employee engagement, and cost reductions. By encouraging employees to participate, passivity is converted to activity while employees develop new, healthier habits and stronger relationships with their peers and the company.
When implemented through the proper behavioral change framework, gamification can ensure wellness programs drive substantial cost savings. BambooHR showcased that corporate wellness programs cost between USD 36-90 annually per individual, reporting earning nearly USD 4 ROI on every dollar spent, while healthcare payers’ projected ROI for kidney stones patients over five years is estimated at 23%.
The kidney stones case is a stellar example. When an employee suffers from kidney stones, work hours are lost, productivity declines, healthcare bill inflates, and the condition often recurs without changes to one’s water intake. By inducing positive change to health and activity practices, many illnesses become preventable, reducing healthcare costs and securing higher employee availability.
Greater productivity is another prominent benefit. Small health improvements can make a big difference, while physical activity incentives that gamification offers and the healthy habits it encourages improves the capacity to be more energetic, focused, and productive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that productivity losses stemming from employee absence due to healthcare reasons cost employers USD 1,685 per employee every year. On the other hand, achieving daily and weekly well-being goals, earning points and rewards, drive higher satisfaction and engagement.
Gamification continues to prove its effectiveness in building a stronger employee community and company culture. Firstly, demonstrating care for employees reduces absenteeism, and boosts retention, motivation, efficiency, and loyalty. Secondly, even if the program is targeting individual performance, there’s a company-wide social aspect in it, with underlaying team-building elements, camaraderie, and fun, while employees coming together and holding each other accountable to achieve goals. Gamified wellness brings individuals, teams, and the entire organization closer towards reaching goals, addressing problems, and advancing social interactions.
While gamification is attractive, gamified solutions do require comprehensive upfront planning and design. Global research and advisory firm Gartner has predicted that 80% of gamified applications will not meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design. Before opting for their technology partner or selecting a solution, organizations must verify several factors for success.
Personalization is crucial for players to achieve their goals. They can compete and receive badges based on personal performance. Users can customize their profiles and track their personal history through constant feedback, with informative tips regarding healthy practices and unhealthy habit consequences.
Then comes multiple gamification layers. Quests must be present to define goals and encourage motivation. With each completed task, users can receive updates, awards, rewards, and a spot on a leaderboard ranking. By sharing individual progress with friends, users feel socially accountable for persevering, ultimately raising awareness by encouraging others to stay fit.
Furthermore, an excellent user experience is essential. Game mobile app interfaces and connected devices should be hassle-free, human-centric, and accurate, with digital enablers enhancing experiences and encouraging users to join challenges.
Rewards are a powerful way to amplify the short and long-term proactivity benefits and encourage people to continue leading healthy lifestyles. Human Resources professionals often raise the complexity in terms of negotiating and building their rewards catalog. They should opt for solutions that already have an embedded gifts catalog.
BambooHR reports 59% of employees attributing programs to their improved health, well-being, and lifestyles. CME experimented with its INGO Health solution on a sample of 36 team members in January-February 2021, with the findings illustrating its capability to help improve people’s health and lifestyles. Of the participants, 61% agreed the solution had increased their physical activity, 64% said it had encouraged them to monitor their calorie intake, and 86% insisted they were drinking enough water as a result. Other findings also included 97% feeling healthier and 89% more energetic.
From more significant cost savings to better productivity, higher satisfaction and engagement to a stronger employee community and company culture, gamification has a prominent role to play as organizations strive to achieve these objectives through their corporate wellness programs. Utilizing tech solutions will ultimately level up their programs, ensuring gamification drives long-lasting behavioral changes that result in these benefits and reduce healthcare costs.