Employee Engagement Series: Motivating Through ‘Comparative Data’, ‘Messaging’ and ‘Educational Information’
According to Hewitt Associates’ survey with employers, A Road Ahead- Emerging Health Trends 2010, “changing employee behaviors related to health (e.g. encouraging employees to live healthier lifestyles and manage chronic conditions) will continue to be top of mind for employers over the next several years”.
Medium and large employers are evaluating different cost effective approaches that leverage technology to engage employees in their health. One approach that has generated results at the work place is social competition. Employees that participate in social competitions between co-workers and other companies gain the support and encouragement from their teammates to realize personal benefits such as getting more exercise, eating healthier and losing weight.
GTECH, a global technology company with over 3,000 employees in the U.S., piloted Shape Up The Nation’s platform back in 2007 in their headquarters office in Rhode Island. They noticed their employees were actively participating in the program and decided to roll it out to all U.S. employees located in 24 states the following year.
“Our employees tell us that they like to have a structured program with the option of participating in any of the three options (e.g. weight, exercise and nutrition) with the team aspect”, explains Leo Perrone, Director, Employee Benefits at GTECH Corporation.
Through the technology, employees can track and monitor their progress. “What they really like is the comparative information because it motivates them to strive harder, serves as positive peer pressure and it helps the team captains to send out motivational messages”, emphasizes Perrone.
In fact the team captains are an essential piece of the social competition. GTECH recently had a meeting with their team captains to share best practices and make sure they have the tools that they need.
Team captains regularly send out messages to encourage their teammates to try harder together and to congratulate them on their past efforts. Employees also send virtual ‘high fives’ and messages of support to their teammates.
Perrone discussed the employees’ response to the nutrition information that was tested in the platform this summer. “Our employee loved it. They entered in their meals and saw the calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and sugar breakdown for the foods they are choosing. Our employees became more aware of what they are really eating on a daily basis”. One of GTECH’s benefits for employees is the option to participate in six nutritional sessions each year. We agreed that the nutrition information from Shape Up The Nation’s platform would be valuable to share with their nutrition educator for further insight.
GTECH plans to continue with this social competition approach. “This is a foundational program for us since it makes a difference in the personal health of our employees and it also helps with team building. Our employees get to know each other through these competitions and this helps our business” concludes Perrone.
More on employee engagement as the series continues...
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