We’re surprised how often we hear HR folks (and even the occasional seasoned wellness pro) suggest that requiring wellness challenge participants to wear a Fitbit®— or Jawbone®, Garmin®, or any of dozens of other devices — will prevent cheating. It doesn’t. If there are bragging rights, you’ll get a handful of cheaters. Add an incentive and you’ll get more. Make it a rich incentive and you’ll be surprised at some folks’ creative abilities to game the system.
But preventing cheating shouldn’t be the goal; it’s the problem. When you require participants in a wellness program to “prove” they did this or that, you’re saying we don’t trust you. And when you tie validation of health activities to incentives/disincentives, you turn off a lot of people — often the employees who need your help most.
Want to limit corner cutters and flagrant fakers? Here’s how:
By Naketa Perryman and Jordan Lamar, StayWell
Imagine setting out on a road trip without knowing which route to take, or how many miles to your destination, or if you have enough gas, or if you packed everything you need. Having a detailed plan improves the likelihood of success. The same thing goes for launching a wellness champion network.
In Stefan Gingerich’s article, The Science Behind Wellness Champion Networks, we learned about research that suggests social influences — family, friends, coworkers — can greatly affect health behavior. A wellness champion network allows employers to leverage the power of social influence to encourage healthy behaviors in employees.
Dr. Paolo Terni is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology program and an International Coach Federation Professional Certified Coach. He works with executives to develop their leadership skills and their ability to thrive at work and in life. He is the author of several peer-reviewed papers and of many books, including: Coaching Leader (2007); How to Make Change Easier: The Power of the Solution-Focused Approach Taught by 9 Children’s Stories (2012); and The 10 Ingredients for Mastery: How to Achieve Excellence Using Positive Psychology (2015).
Well-Being Practitioner: Chapter 1’s takeaway message in your book, The 10 Ingredients of Mastery: How to Achieve Excellence Using Positive Psychology, is to pursue mastery in something that matters to you. If my employer is offering me a cash incentive to change a health behavior, but I’m really not intrinsically motivated to make the change, am I likely to be successful? Why/why not?
Walking is the most popular fitness activity today, and with the aging population, should continue to attract those who want to maintain youthful vigor. But walking for health and inspiration isn’t a new invention. Here are some quotes from famous walkers you can use as trivia questions for your next walking promotion, incentive program, or door prize drawing (see the answers at the end of the article):