Gamification leads tech health engagement surge

Gamification, mobile apps and social media are being embraced as health engagement tools to change employee behaviour by a growing number of employers, according to research by Buck Consultants.

A study carried out by Buck with WorldatWork, Emerging Technology in Health Engagement, examined the current use and future potential for three key technologies: gamification, mobile apps and social media.

The study found gamification, the use of game-like features in nongame situations to motivate a change in behaviour, is the most prevalent, used by 62 per cent of employers and and ranked highest in employers’ perception of effectiveness. The study defined gamification as initiatives that included games, contests, or game-like elements such as lotteries, points, quizzes, leaderboards and avatars.

A third of companies, 31 per cent, intend to adopt one or more new gamification elements in the coming year. Social networking is used in some fashion by 50 per cent of organisations, but ranks highest in concerns over privacy of personal information. Mobile technology is the least implemented, adopted by 36 per cent of those orgnaisations surveyed, but is the highest priority for future adoption or expansion, with 40 per cent planning to use it in future.

The survey also found that, while 73 per cent of responding organisations have a health engagement strategy in place, measurement of communication effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) is lacking. While 40 per cent of respondents believe mobile technology will be the most frequently adopted technology by employers during the next two years, only 11 per cent measure ROI on mobile apps and social media initiatives. Just 21 per cent measure ROI on gamification technologies.=

Barry Hall, principal and innovation leader, talent and HR solutions at Buck Consultants says: The effect of poor health and unhealthy lifestyles is a major concern in many parts of the world, not only due to the direct costs of medical care, but also due to indirect costs linked to absenteeism and productivity. Enhanced health also is integral to overall wellbeing, and many employers view their efforts as contributing to their employee value proposition.

Concurrent with these dynamics, the explosion of social media, mobile technology and gamification has created a new landscape in the daily lives of most people. Just as many organisations are exploring how to harness these emerging channels to engage with customers in new ways, many also are intrigued by the opportunity to use similar approaches to better engage employees in ways to improve their health.”

Lenny Sanicola, CBP, senior benefits practice leader, WorldatWork says:The lack of measurement is due, in part, to the fact that many companies are using third parties, such as health insurers and wellness program vendors, to handle various aspects of their wellness programs. These companies should direct their vendors to better engage employees and to collaborate on measuring effectiveness.”