My university has an incentives-based wellness program that has gotten a complete makeover this year, and it’s really shot up in popularity. Or maybe I’ve just been living in a cave. In either case, I’ve jumped on board now, and I’ve found it very compelling. They’re leveraging the Limeade platform, a service dedicated to creating an interactive community experience for workforces. Their approach is based on the following idea:
“True change – true improvement – happens when the mix of individual motivation, peer support and fun is just right.”
They accomplish this by providing a set of medium-term challenges that participants can collect points on once they reach certain quotas. For instance, one of the challenges is to get at least seven hours of sleep every night (along with two other alternatives). If you can do this at least 20 times by the end of the month, then you’re awarded 100 points. Once you accumulate enough points, you “level” up and are awarded a prize.
It’s the gamification of health, and I think it was brought to my attention at an opportune time while I’m recovering.
There are also tools (as you can see in the diagram above) and online discussion boards associated with both challenges and wellness-related topics. You login into the site using your account, but your identity can be anonymous. Great feature. Wellness encompasses a lot of personal dimensions in addition to physical health, and the ability to discuss these issues at work without fear of judgment is an important one. Okay, admittedly, it’s not a great platform for fostering community;, but it does allow people to voice and get answers to their concerns.
Personally, I’ve found that participating really puts these ideas in the forefront of my mind. It helps that health literacy is something I already feel strongly about, but everyday things like getting enough sleep tend to take a back burner to other priorities. This program provides that extra nudge to be a little more conscious and intentional about the things I do. But more importantly, I think this approach to promoting wellness is accessible to a lot of people.
We’ll have to see how effective this is on the long term though. It’s something requires checking in at least a couple times a week, and it can be hard to say if the incentives and promotions are enough to keep people regular. But for the time being, the participation and buzz it has generated makes me hopeful.