How fun is your corporate health and wellness program? May 24th, 2013, by Ken Buckley

Health behaviour change can be a heavy and weighty topic (no pun intended!).

It’s easy to get all hung up on transtheoretical models (stages of change), or to go down the path of lecturing people on all the dangers of an unhealthy lifestyle.

At Healthworks, we design our behaviour change programs around many evidence-based factors proven to crate behaviour change: considering a person’s whole environment including worksite culture; inviting significant others (family/ friends) to join the change process; providing incentives; plus giving regular personalised encouragement.

But the most effective ingredient in our programs is FUN.

If you make a behaviour or a choice fun, people are more likely to do it.

Here’s a classic example: they replaced the stairs in a train station with piano keys to encourage more people to use the stairs:

This example is from a very successful campaign by Volkswagen called The Fun Theory.

Volkswagen coined this term to promote their new environmental cars, with the line: “We believe more people will drive environmentally friendly cars if it’s fun to do.”

We sometimes forget, in workplace health and wellness, that we’re not the first ones to invent behaviour change. Hundreds of other movements and public policy arenas are also looking for that magic bullet to get people to change: environment and road safety are just two examples in which it’s all too easy focus on the fear rather than the fun.

Yet some of the most successful campaigns have been “fun” based. Clean Up Australia was one of the first businesses to make it fun to look after the environment and stop littering. Fun is why School Kitchen Gardens are so popular in encouraging children to eat more veggies and be more aware of “real” food as opposed to processed food options. Fun is also why gamification is becoming so popular with businesses, both in motivating their staff and influencing their consumers. Check out this interesting blog on gamification in health promotion campaigns.

Here’s a great example of a fun way to exercise. The Pinball Exercise Machine was another entry in the Volkswagen “The Fun Theory” campaign. A stepper is exercise but a pinball machine is fun – combine the two to get exercise that’s fun…

So how can you inject some fun into your health and wellness program?

  • Messaging & Marketing: Do an audit of all the messages going out to your employees. How many are fear based or “must” based, and how many focus on the fun and positive benefits.
  • Activities: Invest in fun activities such as motivational campaigns or team challenges (Check out Healthworks Outback Walkabout and Fitness Challenge)
  • People: recruit “champions” who inject a sense of fun into your program. These are those “ordinary” employees who have that extraordinary skill of making things fun – they are those energetic, encouraging and bubbly people that others are drawn to. Give them a small but focused job to rally the troops and encourage their peers to take part. See our blog on how to use Champions to create employee support for your corporate health program.

 

Healthworks provides corporate health solutions which change behaviours, change cultures, while being fun! Contact us to find out more.

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