Grokker’s Founder and CEO, Lorna Borenstein, recently sat down for a webinar with Jae Kullar, Delta Air Line’s Manager of Health & Wellbeing. While exploring the various components of a truly successful, engaging, and employee-first workforce wellbeing program, they focused much of their conversation around “what’s worked” exceptionally well for Delta’s global employee base.
One of the most compelling take-aways? “Make it fun!”
It’s easy for wellbeing program administrators (and most certainly HR executives) to get trapped in a tangle of metrics and measurements — and daily minutiae is seldom the stuff of excitement. But for employees to get excited about their benefits and engage with them, they need to actually enjoy them. So what’s working for Delta? And what can you do to make your program more fun?
1. Operate with a Philosophy of Fun
Start with your strategy. If your overarching benefits strategy puts employees’ needs and preferences at the center — and you’re always thinking “inclusivity” — it’s easier to see where the fun fits in. Workforce wellbeing programs, in particular, belong to employees. Employees are the ones who use them, so they have to want to join in on the activities. (If they don’t, then something’s not working. Where’s the value in that?)
That said, you can’t force people to participate in any of your programs. You have to recognize that some of your employees are distracted, overwhelmed, or unwell — they have illnesses or time limitations that can keep enthusiasm at bay. But you can put your best foot forward by understanding your employees and giving them a say in what they’re looking for and what’s most fun for them.
2. Adopt a Broad Definition of Wellbeing
Make more room for fun. Most traditional employee health and wellness programs focus on physical health in an effort to drive down healthcare costs. This narrow approach, which hasn’t been shown to deliver a ROI, can involve punitive disincentives or alienate people whose goals don’t align with 10,000 step or weight loss challenges. And what fun is that?
Think of the employee whose issues stem from chronic stress: Their mental health is at least as important as their physical health — and both should be addressed side-by-side for best results. They may not be up for “walking to Chicago and back” as part of a group fitness challenge. But what if they could do a program that combines light activity, stretching, and mindfulness, where they learn some skills to cope with day to day stressors?
It’s here where we see the interconnectivity of the lifestyle factors that impact our whole-selves. Nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and sleep all play an integrated role in how we feel, physically and emotionally. If your workforce wellbeing program enables employees to enjoy cardio workouts, meditation sessions, and high-quality naps in good measure, there are more opportunities to “find the fun.” Wellbeing becomes more personal, more satisfying, and more enjoyable.
3. Use Gamification
Games are fun. Why? Because they challenge us, whether or not we’re playing with an opponent. Each small “win” over the course of gameplay is motivating. It sparks the desire to keep going, to get to the next level, to succeed. That’s what makes gamification — applying elements of game playing to an online activity — the best way to get people engaged in a behavior-building process.
Modern workforce wellbeing programs have a digital component (if they’re not entirely digital) that make gamification the perfect way to enhance the user experience and promote ongoing participation. Some examples include allowing employees to collect points, earn badges, track streaks, and celebrate with extrinsic incentives like gift cards, company swag, and even insurance reimbursement.
4. Integrate Wearables
According to eMarketer, roughly a quarter of US adults (56.7 million people) will use a wearable device at least once a month in 2019. This accounts for a solid chunk of your employee base, especially if your populations skews “younger.” If you have employees who are tracking their health activity — at least sometimes — it just makes sense to enable them to include it in your workforce wellbeing program. How motivating!
If an employee knows that their lunchtime stroll or evening run will count towards a program incentive, their activity becomes more fun and rewarding. Plus, if their coworkers are cheering them on as they progress (e.g. "'atta girl!"), all the better for engagement and enjoyment.
5. Leverage Social Media
Social media keeps people — and coworkers, in workforce wellbeing circles — connected. A social community of like-minded colleagues working towards similar goals across the wellbeing spectrum can support each other around-the-clock, on their time, when they're in the mood. And thanks to the highly visual nature of social media, employees who belong to a corporate wellbeing group can post videos and images to illustrate their experiences and success, or to add humor to a conversation.
It’s fun to share — and it’s that simple.
But since social media and “sharing” isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone, make it easy for employees to opt-out of such activities. Think of it this way: they’ll have more fun if they’re not forced to participate in posting, liking, sharing, etc. The idea is to make any form of sharing welcoming and unintimidating, so let your employees decide what they're up for.
For more insights, tune into the webinar, The Ten Commandments of Wellbeing: Reimagining Workforce Health Engagement for the 2020s and Beyond.