by Mike Tinney

I grew up in the 80’s, an era famous for its service and product guarantees. From LL Bean’s (until recently) lifetime product guarantees to Dawn Cleaner’s 2x price refund guarantee. There are 17 companies (according to Consumer Reports) who stake their reputation, and build their product brand, around customer satisfaction at a tier above their competition.

This doesn’t happen much, if at all, in the wellness challenge space. The generally assumed truth of the corporate walking challenge industry is that you can’t make people do what’s best for them. You can only try your best and hope that some come along for the whole journey.

You can’t make people do what’s best for them… but you can inspire them.

Brokers, from companies like Lockton, tell us that somewhere between 30-50% of most health program signees complete programs. 50% completion is considered “STRONG” for most wellness vendors. There are some programs that achieve higher-than-average results with the “stick” approach. “Do this or you’ll spend more money/lose some benefits.” Or, in other words, remain compliant.

We know, from research, that stick (and carrot) based programs lose traction over time. I think these sentiments are generally correct. You can’t make people do what’s best for them… but you can inspire them.

When we started working on Health Entertainment, we believed that if you could create an entertainment experience that required healthy activity to engage in, that we could, in time, work out a way to inspire people to change their habits. So we’ve been hacking away at people’s behavior for 3+ years now. Trying to build a better game that inspires, and through inspiration, engages participants at the highest levels through to completion.

Walking Challenge Ideas

We’ve found our sweet spot: a six week zombie outbreak challenge; delivered in an ongoing story format, up to 4 times a year. We prototyped four challenge themes: a zombie outbreak, an alien invasion, and sports and holiday themes.

Our zombie outbreak retained users 9% better than any of our other prototype challenges. To put that into real numbers, our worst challenge retained users at an average of 79% completion. That was our worst. The Zombie outbreak retained at an average completion rate of 88%. We tracked all the differentials HERE. I should add that recently we’ve been hitting completion rates in the 90%’s.

So where has that lead us over time?

The Outbreak Challenge Engagement Guarantee
We’re going to join the guarantee club. We’re going to guarantee an 80+% completion rate to any company that uses our program and follows our format.

How does this compare to our competition? Our nearest competitor charges $12 per employee to participate in a “steps are great” challenge. They then tack on $2800 in set up and “device integration” fees, and our brokers tell us they expect about 40% of those employees who sign up to complete the program. So in a 100 person company you would have a weighted cost per user who completes the program of $100 per successful employee ((100*$12 + 2800)/40).

“To put that into real numbers, our worst challenge retained users at an average of 79% completion. That was our worst.”

OR you can pay us $20.95 per user, plus a one time $1000 set up fee and we’ll guarantee 80% of your staff finish the program for a weighted cost per completion of $38 per successful employee ((100*$20.95+$1000)/80). This is just the savings on the cost of completion per engaged employee. You can learn more about the insurance savings one of our clients discovered in this wellness ROI case study.

So yeah, when we crunched the numbers it was a no brainer to double down on what we’ve gotten great at doing. We had to build up our confidence a bit, as this is new territory, both for us and our market. At the end of the day, though, we realized that we’ve figured out how to inspire an employee population and so we’re putting that in writing. We guarantee engagement now. We’re joining the club, and we’re the first wellness challenge company to do so.

Until Next Time,



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