The skinny on breaking bad habits in the workplace with gamification

Breaking bad habits is much easier with gamification in the mix and you can use it to supercharge your workforce when you do it right.

Breaking bad habits is tough at the best of times. The human brain is wired to stick to its guns and it loves a bit of instant gratification, which is why many of us keep on spending too much time playing video games, eating stuff we know is bad for us and getting up to super sketchy stuff like smoking, long after we knew better.

We know it’s unhealthy, we know we shouldn’t, and yet, there we find ourselves – binge-watching yet another Netflix show instead of heading outdoors over the weekend, melting cheese onto stuff instead of making a superfood smoothie and lighting up a cigarette instead of, you know, breathing clean air and not getting emphysema.

The same goes for bad habits at work, of course.

Why you should be concerning yourself with employee wellness in 2020

Healthy, happy people get stuff done. On the flipside, all work and no selfcare makes Jack and Jill pretty miserable. Statistics tell us that South African employees are busier and more unhealthy than ever before. In a bid to stay ahead, they’re sleeping less, sitting more, eating worse and burning out. This is bad for them, and bad for business – unwell employees are often absent and they tend to leave in search of greener pastures.

Unhealthy employees are also far less likely to be actively engaged at work, and that is a major problem, and we do mean major. Here are a few scary statistics to explain what we mean. Only 9% of the South African workforce is actively engaged, and of the 91% who were disengaged, 45% were actively disengaged (i.e. very negative about their job environment and likely to spread the negativity to co-workers).

In fact, over half of young employed South African professionals are job-hunting and looking to change employers within the next year. On the other hand, highly engaged teams show a 21% greater profitability than their competitors and companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those who don’t.

The benefits of fostering a culture of wellbeing

So what’s a forward-thinking business to do if they want to get the right kind of healthy folks on board? The truth of the matter is that balanced spaces attract star players. If you want to attract high-performing top talent that bring their best selves to work every day (and have these star players stick around for longer than a minute) your employer brand has to be irresistible. The A-team is out there, but they want to know that your business values them as humans as well as employees. This is why it’s about time we ditch the cookie-cutter and lead by example when it comes to employee wellness.

See, the same-old, same-old, top-down, one-size-fits-all, incentive-driven approach is not as inspiring as one might think. Programs that fail to drive lasting lifestyle change by giving employees tools to make those changes themselves don’t lead to happier, healthier employees. Additionally, sustainable wellness is not a nice-to-have that can be sorted out with a wellness check or two.

To truly work, it has to go much deeper, higher and wider than that. You need to cultivate a culture of wellbeing that results in greater engagement, productivity, creativity, resilience and retention at all levels of your organisation. Which is where gamification comes in!

How gamification saves the day!

By integrating game mechanics and dynamics into your internal business processes, you can drive participation and program engagement among your employees. Gamifying a set of activities with compelling actions, processes, and control mechanisms effectively creates a ‘playing field’ of rules and rewards that makes for a highly engaging user experience that’s fun, challenging and satisfying all at the same time.

As humans, we all have a fundamental desire to receive rewards, attain status, chalk up achievements, engage in competition with our peers and express ourselves. These universal, cross-generational desires are a reality among all demographics, cultures and genders, and gamification taps into this rich vein of motivation to drive the behaviours you want to promote among your employees.

When you choose to gamify your company’s approach to wellness, you can help employees become happy, calm, connected and energised by holistically considering the whole person and the relationships between the elements that free, fuel and inspire the humans that make up your workforce.

Plus, because gamification basically works on a data feedback loop, you can gather a goldmine of data and insights on a host of other key issues, for example, absenteeism, retention, and engagement.

For more on the topic of HR data analytics, read The hidden gems of gamification data.

By using gamification in the right way you can design your corporate wellness program to:

  • Inspire your troops by means of fun tasks and prompts that keep them interested and inspired.
  • Engage and empower employees with wellness content tailored to your company.
  • Transform and sustain your team’s overall lifestyle with ongoing gamified wellness coaching.
  • Gather data to assess and determine a baseline and gap analysis so you may easily review and adjust your trajectory on an ongoing basis.

Top tips for creating a gamified program that works

However, not all gamification initiatives are created equal. If you want this approach to work, there are a few important steps you need to follow.

Base everything on the latest science. Human behavioural science is a constantly developing field. If your gamification initiative is to work it has to leverage these findings to tailor a fun, creative, modern approach to create game environments that promote sharper thinking, foster epic engagement and give your people the opportunity to grow, thrive and become the best versions of themselves.

Speak human. If you outsource this mission, choose to collaborate with a team that has a strong capability and track record in employee communication and engagement. They need to know how to speak to your people in a language that motivates them and helps them feel understood.

Make it personal. Whole-person wellbeing should be anchored with self-awareness, and driven by communication. This is why a deeply personalised approach that supports each individual’s unique wellbeing journey results in meaningful change.

Use what you have and start where you’re at. Be nimble in your approach by choosing to optimise, augment or develop a bespoke wellness program that suits your company’s unique needs and various solutions that play different roles in creating a culture of wellbeing.

Keen to find out more about gamification and how you can use it to help your employees to break bad habits and level-up in terms of overall wellness? Feel free to reach out to the Playa team. We specialise in creating gamified experiences that change behaviour and can provide you with everything you need to get your employees fully engaged. Best of all – we’ll give you a view of your data like never before, design a system that drives your company wellness goals and give your people a platform they love to use. Contact us today.

Leave a Comment