Citing 2 new studies from the Centers for Disease Control, MSNBC reports yet another increase in obesity statistics for Americans in all demographics.
And no one is remotely surprised.
This is no longer a knowledge problem. People expect to hear that 38 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of teenagers are obese. They also know what kinds of changes are required to make improvements… and still, year after year, the news gets worse.
Yet you, as a guiding force within your organization, cannot be one of the people that shrugs off this information. It affects your employee productivity and your company’s bottom line because here is a new statistic from the reporting:
Obese adults are 29 percent more likely to say they lack purpose in life than non-obese adults.
This cultural epidemic impacts the mental wellness and productivity of your workforce. And while you can’t change people on their behalf, you can provide them with solutions.
FIX provides wellness solutions that play like games. Time after time we hear reports back from participants that our 6-Week Corporate Walking Challenge created a meaningful change in their lives that gave them the boost they needed for long term change.
To lose weight, eat more often. Rather than eating 3 large meals, spread your intake out over 6 smaller meals. Eating more often benefits your metabolism and helps with portion control.
FIX Selected to Participate in Baker Donelson’s Fourth Annual Southeastern Emerging Companies Capital Connections
Atlanta, GA / May 12, 2016 FIX has been selected to be a presenting company during Baker Donelson’s Southeastern Emerging Companies Capital Connections 2016. The event focuses on bringing together successful entrepreneurs and capital investors from across the Southeast. FIX is one of 15 companies selected by an investor committee to attend and participate in the event.
“We’re excited at the opportunity to be in front of such a diverse and experienced group of investors,” says Mike Tinney, CEO of FIX. “The insight that a group like this can bring is invaluable.”
During the event, which is being held in the Baker Donelson Cybersecurity Accelerator in the Firm’s Atlanta, Georgia, office, the 15 participating companies will be able to pitch their ideas to a group of more than 20 investors from across the region. The top two presenting companies, as selected by the investors, will receive a $5,000 credit towards legal services associated with a series A or other investment round into the company. The top seven companies will have one-on-one meetings with investors attending the event.
Justin Daniels, who leads the Southeastern Emerging Companies Capital Connections event, said, “Through initiatives such as this, as well as our Cybersecurity Accelerator and our upcoming second annual cybersecurity conference, Baker Donelson’s Emerging Companies Team is committed to being the go-to resource for entrepreneurs and startups in the Southeast. In the past three years, our Capital Connections event has resulted in companies receiving more than $3 million in funding. We once again received an outstanding group of applicants, and we’re thrilled to offer FIX the opportunity to connect with investors and other entrepreneurs.”
Fitness Interactive Experience (FIX) was founded on the belief that all aspects of life are enhanced by a healthy lifestyle. FIX develops high quality, interactive games that promote health and daily activity in a fun, socially connected environment. Running on the revolutionary UtiliFIT® Activity Engine, FIX’s A Step Ahead™ walking challenges are sweeping the nation and disrupting the traditionally staid corporate wellness industry with their unique mixture of game design, real-world activity tracking and… zombies. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.asachallenge.com to learn more.
About Baker Donelson
Baker Donelson gives clients access to a team of more than 650 attorneys and public policy advisors representing more than 30 practice areas to serve a wide range of legal needs. Clients receive knowledgeable guidance from experienced, multi-disciplined industry and client service teams, all seamlessly connected across 20 offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C. Ranked as the 64th largest law firm in the U.S., Baker Donelson is recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Baker Donelson’s Emerging Companies Team counsels clients on a range of legal services to achieve strategic business goals. The Firm works with all types of rapid-growth companies in diverse industries, including information technology, digital media, life sciences, health care, alternative energy/clean tech, telecommunications and technology-enabled services. More information about Baker Donelson’s Emerging Companies group is available at http://www.southeasternstartups.com/.
Corporate wellness programs have never been more popular: nearly 80 percent of employers have them. And nearly all of these companies are struggling with how to get employees to engage with their programs.
After years of successful wellness challenge executions across the globe, FIX has identified 4 “Pillars” which invariably lead to record levels of engagement.
In simple, no-frills terms, they are:
1) Engaged Leadership
The staff looks to leadership to see how to behave in all things. Wellness engagement from the top is noticed.
2) Positive History With Wellness
A company that consistently communicates that it values the health of its employees will always see a more engaged team.
Winning something and receiving recognition for an accomplishment both appeal to the same part of the brain. One way or another, reinforce the behavior you want to see.
4) Team Experience
Humans will work harder to not disappoint their team than they will to not disappoint themselves. Use this to your advantage by focusing on team-based wellness programs.
Fitness Interactive Experience makes revolutionary gamified corporate wellness challenges which produce unprecedented levels of engagement. But our job does not stop there.
We are your partner in wellness, and we bring the wisdom of years of successful wellness launches to help you get the most possible value from your challenge.
Being part of a team results in more individual effort. This is what’s known as the Köhler Effect, where the performance of weaker individuals rises to meet the performance of a group. In other words… nobody wants to be the weakest link!
Companies hear a lot about wellness gamification these days, and we’re told it’s a good thing. Theoretically, a gamified experience should increase employee participation and retention in wellness programs. “Gamification” has also become a buzzword, but there are meaningful differences between a “gamified” experience and a game; the two are not synonymous.
Not everything is better with gamification. Calling something a game doesn’t automatically mean it will be engaging.
“Gamification” refers to the addition of game-like features to a non-game experience. Examples might include scoring, badges and leaderboards. What gamified experiences lack, however, are the underlying mechanics that make games among the most effective behavioral engagement tools out there.
When designed correctly, a game can increase engagement. Games are the most sophisticated form of entertainment we have. Games can be more addictive than alcohol, and that energy can be applied to making a healthier, more productive workplace.
Be wary, though. There are a startling number of companies that are using the term “gamification” as though gamified experiences are synonymous with games, but these “gamified” experiences often lack the design features that enable real behavioral engagement.
This part 1 of a series that clearly describes what makes games so effective at driving engagement and retention, and what to look out for in any wellness provider that advertises a gamified product offering.
Before we get into the things you should look for that indicate that a product will be effective at driving engagement, let’s start out with things to watch out for that should make you pause and dig deeper:Badges, Points and Leaderboards.
Sure all games have these, but if these are the only thing your solution talks about, then it’s not a game and it probably won’t increase engagement in the same way that an actual game would. Beware! In each entry of this 6-part series we’ll talk about one of the 6 core elements of good game design (and how each of them influences behavior) so that you can make the most informed decisions on the types of products your company uses. Without further ado…
Element One: The Flywheel (a.k.a. what you do)
The flywheel is the core of your game. It is the thing you do over and over again. It’s repeatable, variable (ideally), and sustainable. The flywheel is the primary behavior pattern for your game. It is the act or action that drives the game state forward.
In Monopoly, the flywheel is rolling the dice, moving and reacting to your new board space. In Hide and Seek, it’s hiding, or seeking. In Football, it’s moving the ball downfield in one of four downs. In Tetris, it’s rotating a random shape to fit into the other shapes you’ve previously placed. The flywheel is the core engine of your game experience and you’ll do it over and over again. It drives everything.
Usually, the simpler your flywheel, the easier it is for people to learn the game and the broader the number of people who can access it. The more complicated the flywheel, the less accessible the game usually is. Also be wary of a diffuse or vague flywheel – these are often games where there are too many core choices; too many options for play.
In the next entry in the series we’ll talk about escalation, and why it’s crucial to any game-based experience.
Homework: Find and define the flywheel in your favorite game to play or watch. Share it with us to get 10% off a future challenge.
Think games are just fun? Recent studies have shown that interactive games increase coordination, improve memory (by up to 12%) and even improve overall cognitive function.
“Different kinds of physical activity shown to improve brain volume, cut Alzheimer’s risk in half.”
Reported by Science Daily and conducted by investigators at UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh, this is the first study to show that virtually any type of aerobic physical activity can improve brain structure and reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
“A variety of physical activities from walking to gardening and dancing can improve brain volume and cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%, a new study suggests.”
The potential benefits of a clear path between lifestyle intervention, activity and brain health are staggering.
Grab some blueberries. A Tuft’s University study suggests that eating blueberries may improve or delay short-term memory loss.
Extended sitting causes a myriad of chronic health issues, as we documented in our February report. The very nature of the modern desk-based work day is contributing to dramatic increases in diabetes, heart attacks and cancer in workers across the world.
Fortunately, awareness of the issue is spreading and health-minded people are taking steps to introduce incredibly beneficial micro-breaks into their work days. These “sedentary disruption” activities can take less than 30 seconds, can be completed in work clothes by the desk, and can actually be MORE effective than jogging at offsetting the dangers of sitting for extended periods of time.
Greatest.com has gathered a great compilation of 33 top-notch “deskersises” that can be inserted into the busiest work day. It is well worth reading, sharing, and doing!
Whereas the greatest.com article covers ways for an individual to be less sedentary, there are also solutions that address sedentary behavior across entire companies, such as UtiliFIT.
Take standing meetings. Not only do you get the benefits of movement, but standing generally makes meetings shorter and more to-the-point.
Nobody likes to be told that they’re doing a bad job, but that’s exactly what the data says about workplace wellness. Statistically speaking, we’re doing a terrible job of taking care of our employees’ health. One need only look at the trends in disease prevalence, healthcare spending, and the gap between healthy behaviors and employees’ actual behavior, and it’s not hard to see that wellness, as we know it, is headed for a fundamental shift.
Not convinced? Let’s take a look at the signals.
1) Our employees are unhealthy… and getting unhealthier.
Picture yourself standing in a room next to 99 of your employees. If you’re in America, here’s what the 100 of you look like, according to the data:
69 of you are overweight 36 of you are obese 67 of you are pre-diabetic 12 of you have diabetes (and 3 of you don’t even know it) 17 of you have high cholesterol 33 of you have high triglycerides 26 of you have cardiovascular disease 19 of you smoke 41 of you will be diagnosed with cancer during your lifetime 62 of you have sleep issues 77 of you struggle with stress 9 of you suffer from depression 95 of you fail to get the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the U.S. Department of Health
Pay attention to that list and you’ll notice how many conditions are interconnected. Weight issues, smoking, sleep, stress, lack of activity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, all inter-related, and many are a direct link to lifestyle and behavior (more on that later).
By any reasonable stretch of the imagination, that’s not a healthy group, and if it pained you to read through that list, brace yourself, because it doesn’t get much rosier from here on. The incidences of many of the above-listed conditions, including the costliest to treat, are growing, not shrinking.
2) We’re not doing enough to meet the rising cost of healthcare.
In the U.S., we spend roughly $8 billion on corporate wellness annually, yet in the same time period…
We spend $125 billion on cancer.
We spend $245 billion on diabetes.
We spend $320 billion on heart disease.
For those keeping track, that’s $690 billion, or about 86x the amount we spend on preventing all health conditions for our employees, just to manage those 3 conditions.
Our workforce is becoming more sedentary every year, costing us more and more to treat and insure.
The corporate wellness market is growing at about 5% a year, whereas the cost of healthcare is rising at closer to 6%. On the surface that doesn’t sound so bad, but 5% of $8 billion is pennies compared to 6% of the roughly $3 trillion spent on healthcare. The costs of care are rising at a higher rate than our spending on prevention (and inflation, but that’s another article altogether), and when we combine this trend with signal #1 (our employees’ health is getting worse) we’re faced with the stark reality that our collective efforts to keep our employees healthy is not presently effective enough to maintain parity with the rising costs to treat their health problems, let alone reverse the trend.
… we’re faced with the stark reality that our collective efforts to keep our employees healthy is not presently effective enough to maintain parity with the rising costs to treat their health problems….
As employers, we’re arguably the single entity that’s most invested in the health of the individuals we employ, outside of the individuals themselves. Whether you look at insurance utilization, sick leave, employee productivity or any other metric, when our employees are sick, it costs us. It costs us in both intangible ways (such as team members being absent) and in perfectly tangible ways (unhealthy employees cost more to treat and insure).
For example, a 2008 study found that medical costs for those who are obese are $1429 higher than those of a normal weight. If you have 1,000 employees, and statistically speaking, 36% of them are obese, they’re literally weighing your company’s healthcare utilization down by an additional $514,440 each year. Let that sink in as we move to signal #3.
3) We focus on symptoms rather than behavior.
Take a moment to re-read signal #1 of this article and note how many of those morbid statistics all share a direct link to behavior. Lack of activity, smoking, stress, poor diet; they’re all lifestyle related, meaning that the risks to the chronic diseases associated with them are, at least to some degree, mitigable. This is, ultimately, the lynchpin for both of the above signals.
The CDC has stated outright that chronic diseases are now the #1 threat to American lives, ahead of infectious diseases, and that lack of activity is the #1 contributor to chronic diseases. Lack of activity has been linked to heart disease, obesity, depression, breast cancer, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, anxiety, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, hypertension and all cause mortality, among other maladies. Meanwhile, we, as employers, are paying more and more employees to sit in front of a computer all day, every day, decreasing the amount of activity and increasing the amount of sedentary time for our workforce, year over year.
We’re trending in all the wrong directions. But what are we doing wrong?
If we, as employers, are doing our jobs to keep our employees healthy, how is it that they’re still so overwhelmingly unhealthy, getting more unhealthy, and costing us more every year?
Wellness will continue to fail until it succeeds in enacting long-term healthy behavior change.
The problem isn’t knowledge. As you read this article you know that smoking is bad for you, but nearly 20% of you still smoke. You know that french fries are unhealthy, but 25% of you still eat fast food on any given day. You know that you should exercise, but 95% of you don’t bother to get off your butts for even the bare minimum recommended by the U.S. Department of Health.
The hard truth is that most companies’ wellness initiatives don’t address long-term behavior change and are, as a result, simply not all that effective. Not for a lack of effort, of course. They may have the right intentions, but the tactics only touch the surface, leaving the underlying behavioral issues to remain or worsen.
It’s this approach to wellness that is confounding signals #1 and #2. We’re simply not doing enough to change the unhealthy behaviors of our employees to keep them from getting unhealthier and costing us more. It’s this combination that will, at some point, come to a head. Whether that’s in the near term or the long term, driven by rising costs or industry innovation, at some point the current state of the industry breaks. Companies who focus on behavioral modification are almost certainly going to be ahead of the curve, with the rest following suit down the road.
Until then, get your pocketbooks ready. This is going to get expensive.
In The ROI of Employee Wellness: Part 1, we explored a number of studies that “conclusively” argue that Wellness Programs offer companies measurable returns on investment based on health care savings and improved attendance and performance. Yet Wellness ROI remains a hotly contested topic. Why?
Benefitspro provides a thoughtful analysis of the challenges to ROI which amount to 1) “not enough data”, and 2) challenges to the research methodology. Broadly speaking these objections amount to “I’m just not buying it.”
The article concludes with the quote…
“Whereas significant reductions in health care cost may take time to materialize … well-executed programs appear to improve employee health meaningfully.”
And therein lie the critical words – “well-executed programs.”
Wellness is a very new category for most companies, and many struggle with communicating the value of participation to their staff. Without significant employee participation and retention, there is no meaningful value.
Fortunately, there are Wellness providers that specialize in capturing the imaginations of workplace populations.