How to Game-ify Group Health Incentives at Work

An ever-growing number of businesses and organizations are working hard to improve their employees’ overall health and wellness in order to boost morale and productivity, and to help combat significant company healthcare costs annually.

Companies are tapping into the motivation that many people find when involved in some friendly competition — with others and with themselves — through fitness and weight loss competitions, and other group wellness programs.

Here’s how a few companies are bringing employee health to the forefront by “game-ifying” their benefit programs and helping to create a culture focused on wellness.

Blue Shield

A California-based health plan provider, Blue Shield has been recognized multiple times as a Platinum-Level Fit Friendly company by the American Heart Association’s initiative for helping employees eat better and move more.

So how do they do it? Employees are encouraged to form teams, track their activity, and compete with other teams using their own online, mobile-enabled platform. They also encourage use of the organization’s own wellness program, Wellvolution, which uses social media to promote healthy habits.

In the last year, 130 teams made up of 1,200 Blue Shield employees walked over 400 million steps as part of the initiative, Shape Up Shield, following an eight week long challenge that allowed teams to comment in forums, give virtual high fives and set goals.


Pfizer began using the employee wellness platform Keas, which enables employees from client companies to log into a personal dashboard and view stats, earn awards for completing tasks, and even support co-workers to make progress toward their goals.

Over 35,000 Pfizer employees were invited to use Keas as part of the “Healthy Pfizer” campaign, and during the course of a Keas study, over 82% of employees said that using the platform improved their health.


A startup called Welltok recently gained attention from Forbes, where their core mission was discussed — motivating users to make choices that improve their health. Welltok works with large companies, including Aetna, Centura Health and IBM to help users choose healthier behaviors. They do this by offering a menu of programs that allow companies to award their participants with cash or gift cards for the completion of biometric screenings.

One of the goals associated with the platform includes reducing costs associated with unhealthy employees — for employers and insurers. And it seems to be working. According to Welltok’s chief executive Jeff Margolis, more than 1 million people are utilizing the company’s programs.

What You Can Do

Employers interested in creating similar groups and incentives should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Teamwork and technology are key – Encourage employees to work together, and use social media and other online and mobile platforms to keep everyone connected, motivated and accountable.
  • Weekly updates and incentives are crucial – Give employees the opportunity to start fresh each Monday morning with new goals and milestones to reach.
  • Consider what your employees really want – Offer a range of incentive options to support the many unique needs and motivations of your employees. Whether it’s a paid training course, a half day off, or a session with a personal trainer, create a diverse set of awards that will appeal to everyone.

Creating opportunities for friendly competition and collaboration in the workplace is a fun and positive way to improve your company’s benefit programs, the health and wellness of your employees and your bottom line.