How Gamification Can Foster a Culture of Wellbeing at Work

More and more businesses are realising that gamification can help them engage their employees and create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. But how can your business benefit from gamification?

Yugi the Giraffe - 20 September 2019

Being the responsible HR professional that you are, you know that caring for your employees’ wellbeing is important. Gone are the days of businesses seeing wellbeing as their employees’ responsibility alone: now companies realise it is essential for them to maintain a good level of health and wellbeing for their teams.

In order to do so, companies need to foster a culture of wellbeing in the office. What this means is setting values and norms that encourage your employees to take good care of themselves, whilst giving them the support they need from your senior management.

Of course, there are simple things you can do to help, like allowing flexible working and providing healthy snacks - but if you want to go the extra mile, wellbeing gamification may be a great solution for your office.

Gamification is the use of gaming elements and techniques in non-gaming instances. Avatars, leaderboards, badges and points are only a few examples - but we’re sure it already rings a bell. Many apps today use these gaming techniques to increase engagement and create long-lasting habits, and gamifying wellbeing has been a constant technology trend since around 2010. When the gaming sector is worth more than film and music combined, it’s not hard to understand why.

But how can it help foster a culture of wellbeing at work? We have some ideas.

1. Motivating change

Getting people to do something they don’t necessarily enjoy is never easy. Your team are busy, they’ve got stuff they need to get done, and they just aren’t that motivated to do a 5-minute meditation when they’re feeling overwhelmed, to take the stairs rather than the lift, or to walk home instead of taking the bus. They need to feel like they’re not only supported if they want to do any of those things, but also that they’re gaining something from it.

Studies show that gamification can inspire wellbeing change, so when you add gamification into the mix, you give your people that immediate reason why. They’re going to be healthier, but they’re also going to win something, progress through the game, or just feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a level. It’s that extra motivation they need to start their wellbeing journey.

2. Maintaining habits

An office culture of wellbeing is not just about giving your people that first nudge - if this was the case, all of us would be so fit and healthy starting with every New Year’s resolution - but about making it their lifestyle.

Luckily, games tend to be addictive, which means your employees are more likely to stick to their newly formed habits if they’re using a gamified wellbeing solution.

3. Accessible and user-friendly

Another benefit of gamification is that in the 21st century, most of your team will already be familiar with the concepts, the devices and the practicalities of gaming. In fact, more than 2.4 billion people are expected to play mobile games this year, so it’s safe to say gaming is very popular.

What this means is that your people wouldn’t need to learn how to use a new tool - they can just pop a new app on their phones and seamlessly integrate it with their lives. The ubiquity of mobile phones made them into effective platforms for forming healthy habits, which is something we should all embrace!

Gamification has another benefit: revealing hidden progress that your people may not have noticed before. For example, almost every mobile phone nowadays has a pedometer, and some of your people may check it every once in a while. However, by using a game that integrates this data, your employees are more likely to check it and be informed of how much they walk without manually feeding in any information, all from a device they’re already carrying around with them. Instead of adding another task, gamification uses existing data to motivate and improve.

4. Team effort

Fostering a culture of wellbeing is not just about motivating your employees in silos, but rather about provoking a discussion about wellbeing issues and making your office into a wellbeing hub for teams to thrive together. When it comes to wellbeing, the sum is larger than its parts.

That’s another reason why gamification is so helpful: games are inherently competitive, and a huge part of gamifying wellbeing is about making it into healthy competition (no pun intended). Using the social elements of gaming like leaderboards and social pressure, gamifying wellbeing can create a domino effect of wellbeing. It only takes one employee to be inspired, and they’ll get the rest going.

5. Simply holistic

The beauty of gamification is that it doesn’t only apply to one area of wellbeing - it can apply to all of them. Physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing can all be part of your scheme by simply gamifying it!

It’s not only great because it’s all-encompassing, but also because many believe it’s the only way to make sure your people’s wellbeing is actually cared for. After all, in order to be truly well, your employees would need to have some balance in their lives.

We think that YuLife is a great example for how this can work. YuLife provides your team with a group life insurance policy that’s like no other. It includes a gamified wellbeing app that rewards your team for their wellbeing. Through healthy activities such as walking and meditating, our members earn yucoin - the currency of wellbeing - which they can then exchange for Avios air miles and gift cards from brands like ASOS and Amazon.

Our members go on quests, complete streaks and progress through levels, which motivates them to do more. The company leaderboard and bespoke leaderboards help improve their social wellbeing, connecting people from all around the company and even different locations.

The life insurance policy improves their financial wellbeing by knowing their loved ones are taken care of, and the yucoin mean they can actually earn money for looking after their wellbeing - and then treat themselves to a holiday in the sun or a new outfit.

6. Working to earn

There are a lot of reward benefits out there, that give your employees something for nothing. Of course, that’s great, but with gamification, your people will receive double the satisfaction: accomplishing something, and using the rewards.

On its own, gaming has positive mental health effects that stem from the sense of accomplishment and the social element of competition. Combined with the fact that wellbeing gamification helps employees with their health, together with the rewards, your employees will get 3 times the satisfaction!

7. Better ROI

Wellbeing gamification helps your employees maximise their health, but it also helps your business. One of the biggest issues with employee benefits is that people sometimes just don’t engage with them, but gamification can solve this problem. For example, yulife has triple the daily engagement rates compared to the market standard. In other words, you’re paying the same for more people to benefit.

Not only is this the case, but you’re also paying for something that inherently saves your business money. Healthier employees are also happier and more productive, which means your business will be saving on sickness absence costs as well.

The ROI is even better if you purchase a benefits package that does multiple things. With YuLife, you’re getting life insurance for your employees, and also our app that's included in the price - so by paying as much as you are for your current policy, your team will be getting so much more.

Yugi the Giraffe

Yugi is our YuLife mascot. Like all giraffes they've got a big heart – in fact the biggest heart of all land animals.