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Employees get competitive for wellness programs

Getting in shape is a competitive sport. That, at least,  is the view many companies are taking to improve the results of their corporate wellness programs.

Getting in shape is a competitive sport. That, at least,  is the view many companies are taking to improve the results of their corporate wellness programs.

Ongoing efforts to fight rising healthcare costs and engage employees have businesses enacting employee reward programs, where teams or individuals compete to lose the most weight, according to the Washington Post. The approach has increased participation in a number of organizations, helping them improve the results.

"Corporations are networks of people," Chris Boyce, the chief executive of Virgin HealthMiles, told the source. "And we find that networks of people actually move and change together."

A survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health found that 45 percent of businesses used competition as part of their wellness programs, and an additional 15 percent state they will add the format in the next year.

Programs improve company performance
Wellness programs have been proven to increase productivity and lower absenteeism. Corporate Wellness Magazine notes that every $1 invested in health initiatives can return $4 with higher productivity and lower health insurance costs. By challenging individuals and teams, businesses can increase motivation for participation. The support and commitment of other pushes workers to continue efforts after their initial enthusiasm wears off.

Social media and online tools have helped employees track their performance and measure it against coworkers. These tools have increased the competitive atmosphere of the programs and can even be used to improve traditional employee incentive programs.

Implementing corporate wellness programs can be difficult and there are several steps that businesses need to follow to ensure it is done correctly, according to Forbes. Assessing the company's needs is the first step to creating a successful program. Is the initiative just to reduce health costs, or improve cooperation in the office? The goals should be focused to increase participation and give employees a clear directive. With competitive reward programs companies should decide if it will be based on team performance or individual efforts, which can change the nature of the competition.

The source also notes that communication is needed to keep people interested. Providing regular updates and noting the commitment of individuals will further motivate people to increase their activity level. Incentive program specialists Xceleration can help firms set up employee incentive programs and offer tips in boosting their results. By hosting the program on their servers, Xceleration allows its clients to focus on administering the initiative and generating results.

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