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Gaming your way to a healthier heart

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Gaming your way to a healthier heart

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Gamification is one of the hot topics in the corporate world, with it being used to encourage and prompt employees to do the right thing, whether it's sharing knowledge or learning health and safety procedures.

The Heart Foundation are hoping to use it to help people achieve a healthier heart.  The Australian based charity are piloting a six week project to track and monitor the health of employees.

“Basically the way it works is staff register and they form into teams. They can then gain points on a daily and weekly basis through recording and/or achieving their goals they set around nutrition, physical activity, etc,” said Damon Mudge, national director of operations at the Heart Foundation.

“They are rewarded at different levels by the number of points that they have earned – either at an individual level or on an averaging basis across the team – to try and motivate team members to buddy up and assist each other with that process.”

Depending on their achievements, staff are then awarded gold, silver or bronze badges.  It does come with a slight caveat however.  Firstly the targets are determined by the staff themselves, so it's possible for them to set the bar low and still achieve a gold badge for achieving their goals.

The second thing of course is that a badge in itself isn't really all that motivating.  The Heart Foundation believe displaying it in public will however encourage (or shame) them into doing well.

“That ‘badging’ process is public within the social network that they have got within the corporate and they can share stories. We’ve got some people providing blogs and other such things to try and help motivate the broader staff across the organisation,” said Mudge.

Mudge revealed that a key motivating factor behind trying the gamification approach was that previously it was proving difficult to motivate people to make long-term changes.

“There was a fairly large drop off in terms of people tracking against their goals,” Mudge said. “It was [previously] more based on registration, goal setting and email communication rather than recognition and a rewards-based process or a teaming approach where there was a level of competition,” he said.

Thus far it seems the results are positive.  Suncorp Group and Aurizon have both tried it out, and have signed up hundreds of employees to the scheme.

“There are about 1500 registrations. We do know that in the first few weeks, after week two we were still looking around about 21 per cent of people who were still recording and that’s a lot better than we saw in that public program in that same sort of time frame.” Mudge said.

Whilst initial results are indeed encouraging, it will be interesting to see how long-term the behavioural changes prove to be.


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