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How to Run a Company Fitness Challenge

How to Run a Company Fitness Challenge

Employers are frequently turning to wellness programs to decrease healthcare costs, in particular fitness challenges. Fitness challenges encourage employees to track their physical activity through devices, and help them become aware of their fitness habits. To run these program employers sometimes subsidize or provide fitness trackers.

This approach, however, typically results in low engagement, and consequently, a low return on investment (ROI). Employees are not incentivized to use their trackers, or feel like the program doesn’t target their activity level or type. Employees with very low activity levels will feel intimated by the marathon runners in the group, and will not participate in challenges. If administrators want to keep employees engaged, they often discover marketing is required, and often, tech-support.

Bulk purchasing wearables is an extremely pricey option for wellness programs. Let’s say your company has 100 employees and you want to invest in Fitbit’s wellness program initiative. One option is to buy Fitbits in bulk and administer the program yourself. Fitbit places a minimum order of 100 on their bulk purchases. On average companies will get a 20% discount on bulk order. So, if your company orders 100 of Fitbit’s cheapest devices (the Zip at $59.99 per unit) you’re already committed to a cost of $4,799.20--and this includes the bulk discount!

Moreover, if you don’t want to deal with the administration for the program--sending out emails, handing out devices, getting everyone set up on the platform, etc.--you need to use a wellness program. A common option for employers buying Fitbits is to use the Fitbit Group Health products. Their platform costs between $10k and $17k per year, and lower cost plans cap the number of teams that can participate in challenges at 25. Overall, investing in wearable devices can put a small company back over $15k in most cases.

At IncentFit, our approach to corporate fitness challenges is two-pronged. First, we have created a system around allowing employees to bring their own devices. This cuts costs of devices to zero, saving companies thousands of dollars. It also lets employees use their favorite device making implementation easier. Below is a cost comparison between IncentFit and Fitbits Group Health platform for a 100 person company that wants to run fitness challenges.

Cost comparison between IncentFit Challenges and Fitbit Challenges

The underlying problem with running challenges around one type of fitness tracker is that motivating employees to exercise is not a one-size fits all solution. Not all employees want the same fitness tracker, and not all employees exercise the same way. Creating a wellness program that will target all employees--even the ones that smoke--is a challenge in itself. But looking for a more inclusive solution and leveraging employees’ pre-existing technology can help you overcome this challenge. At IncentFit we’ve created this solution. We’re not one-size-fits all solution, but rather, a tailored Challenges program that targets the activities employees love and encourages fitness at all levels--no matter what device you own.

Article edited with the free HTML composer tool.

Why Perks Don't Create Company Culture

Why Perks Don't Create Company Culture

Company culture is is a phrase that is often tossed around, but rarely defined. Companies want their workplaces to have it, but don’t know what kind of culture to create, let alone how to create it. Many companies will turn to perks as a way of creating this elusive “culture”. Buying snacks, bean bags, and allowing office scooters are some of the common images we see of company culture in tech companies. To some degree, company culture has even earned a bad reputation: companies that emphasize “company culture” do so by creating extremely relaxed work environments, and subsequently unprofessional ones.

This however, is a misconception of what good company culture can be. Company culture is first and foremost about results. When you have the right kind of company culture, employees are happier, healthier, and have respect and trust for their co-workers. There is accountability, and positivity in the workplace. To get these results, companies--incorrectly--tend to emphasize perks; however, what is at the core of company culture should be relationships.

Moreover, perks are temporary, but culture is long-term. When thinking about retention, companies should therefore emphasize stable and long-term features of the workplace. Positive relationships with co-workers, and policies that strengthen these relationships, are what outlast the temporary gratification of perks.

This understanding of company culture applies to wellness programs as well. Consider one employer that tried to implement a wellness program that offered in-house group fitness classes. They were startled to find that employees had a low engagement rate. The solution was to create the relationships necessary to get employees involved. The company realized that many employees used social media platforms to communicate with each other. By adding a social media component to their fitness programs, this company was able to drive engagement.

This example reveals that company culture is about

  • Understanding what drives your employees to perform their best
  • Offering tailored wellness (and benefit) solutions to meet employee needs

Maybe your employees deal with a high amount of stress on the job. This might be an unchanging feature of your company; however, creating a company culture that acknowledges this and then targets employee stress through flex holidays, fitness challenges, or free meditation programs, will empower your employees to face these workplace challenges. Notice that some of these options are still perks: free meditation classes are an added benefit. However, they are context-aware perks. Employees will see that you are taking steps to address their concerns and this will give the perks value and meaning.

At IncentFit we work to create fitness challenges that are tailored to employee needs and accessible to all employees. We’ve found that the one-size-fits-all approach employed by wellness companies often ends up being only a perk. Free Fitbits simply don’t address employee needs. By emphasizing company-designed challenges, long-term engagement, and easy implementation we allow employees to see fitness as a part of their company culture, instead of an added perk for show.

Smartwatch Comparison for 2017

Smartwatch Comparison for 2017

For the holiday season many people will be investing in fitness trackers to help them achieve their New Year fitness goals. With so many trackers on the market it’s hard to know which one will be the best fit for you. A number of exciting new trackers have hit, or are scheduled to hit the market including the new Nike Apple Watch Series 2, the Motorola Moto360 Sport, Sony’s SWR50 Smartwatch 3 and the SamsungGear S3. These smarwatch trackers are different from your standard trackers like Fitbit. In addition to tracking activity like steps, and biking, they also can do things like let you respond to text messages and accept calls. They provide many of the benefits of a smartphone, with all the core functionality of a fitness tracker.

Here at IncentFit we’ve looked at the options for you, provide an overview on features, and give our official smartwatch recommendations for Winter 2016..

Platform Comparison

Let’s start with software. There are essentially 3 software platforms:

  1. Apple watchOS
  2. Android Wear
  3. Samsung Tizen

If you’re an Apple user already, then you’ll be fine using the Apple Watch; however, if you’re an Android or Samsung user, you won’t be able to sync your Apple Watch. Apple only works with iPhones, so keep this in mind when making your purchase.

Android Wear on the other hand has the strong benefit of being cross-compatible: it works with both Android and iOS. Additionally Android Wear 2.0--the next generation for Android operating systems-- is coming out in Q1 of 2017 and it promises a lot of improvements.

Finally, Samsung Tizen works with most Android phones (but not all) and is promising iOS support in the coming months (although that remains to be seen).

Fitness Tracking

Now, let’s compare their fitness capabilities. If you want to track your exercise then GPS is going to be a necessity. Without GPS your smartwatch wouldn’t be able to give very accurate readings of outdoor fitness activities. For this reason, we only looked at smartwatches with GPS for our analysis. Also, keep in mind that there are lots of smartwatches that focus on specific sports. If you’re an avid mountaineer, rock climber, swimmer, etc. it’s worth considering buying a watch tailored to your favorite sport. For our comparison, we looked at general purpose devices that handle accurate step tracking, GPS run and bike tracking, and other basic features like text message notifications, music control, calendar integration, etc.

The Comparison

The contenders:

  • Apple Watch Series 2
  • Motorola Moto360 Sport
  • Sony SWR50 Smartwatch 3
  • Samsung Gear S3
 

Apple Watch Series 2

Motorola Moto360 Sport

Sony SWR50 Smartwatch 3

SamsungGear S3

GPS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Heart Rate Sensor

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Swim Tracking

Yes

No

No

No

Cellular Connectivity

No

No

No

Yes (LTE version only)

Operating System (OS)

Apple watchOS

Android Wear

Android Wear

Samsung Tizen

Battery

273 mAh (18 hours)

300 mAh (1 day)

420 mAh (2 days)

380 mAh (3 days)

Screen Resolution

272x340 (38mm)

312x390 (42mm)

360x325

320x320

360x360

Water Resistance

50 meters

IP67 (1 meter)

IP68 (1.5 meters)

IP68 (1.5 meters)

NFC

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Processor

Dual-core Apple S2

1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400

1.2 GHz quad-core Cortex A-7

1.0 GHz dual-core Exynos 7270

RAM

1 GB

512 MB

512 MB

768 MB

Storage

2 GB

4 GB

4 GB

4 GB

Other Features:

Force Touch

 

TFT display looks great in daylight

Samsung Pay with MST

Price

$269-$299

$199.99

$149.99

$349.99

Our Final Recommendations

If you’re an iPhone user, you can’t beat the Apple Watch Series 2. Besides the fact that it will work seamlessly with your iPhone, it is fully waterproof and can accurately track swimming. Additionally, it features great performance and is right in the middle for cost. One downside is battery life, which doesn’t compete with other smartwatches we considered.

If you’re an Android user, we recommend the Samsung Gear S3. While it’s more pricey than its competitors, it features go far beyond. It has very long battery life, more RAM, and excellent screen resolution. It even has the added benefit of working with Samsung Pay. This great feature will allow users to make purchases with just the tap of the watch at any vendor that accepts credit card swipes.

Finding a Corporate Wellness Solution for Smokers

Finding a Corporate Wellness Solution for Smokers

The health risks of smoking are well documented. As a company you may want to institute an exercise wellness program, but believe that it won’t reach smokers: smoking is a common deterrent to exercise. People who smoke may not only have more difficulty exercising, but also may feel less motivated to exercise since they find it to be more difficult. Employers can reach these employees by instituting an exercise program with smoking cessation incentives.

One startling fact is that exercise not only helps offset the detriments of smoking, but often helps employees quit smoking. Quitting smoking produces anxiety, and exercise is a well known stress alleviator. Moreover, exercise has long term impact on smoking cessation: employees who engage in exercise are twice as likely to be non-smokers 3 months later. This is particularly important since smoking is a notoriously difficult habit to break. Employees may quit 8-11 times before fully breaking the habit.

No matter the long-term benefits, smokers may find it difficult or ego-depleting to engage in an exercise program. Many companies have success creating smoke-free zones. However, companies should also consider rewarding people for their efforts to quit. To reach these employees, a company should target incentive programs at smokers. They can not only incentivise exercise, but also reward employees for cutting back on cigarette usage. Some common ways to incentivize smoking cessation include offering smoking counseling (even 3 minutes can produce results), or reimbursing for smoking cessation costs (for example, patches).

There are also exciting innovations in cessation monitoring on the horizon. Companies can now test Carbon Monoxide levels in smokers and allow them to keep track of their smoking habits. Simply monitoring one’s smoking behavior--and subsequently monetary expenditures--can help decrease smoking frequency. Although these products are new, they are quickly moving towards becoming smarter: integrating with smart phones, and creating apps that help track fitness and health habits. One company has even invented a smart lighter that helps track smoking by tracking how often you light up. Reimbursing for these products, and then rewarding employees for positive changes in behavior can help them self-monitor, without the pressure of going cold turkey.

If you’re wondering about creative ways you can reach out to employees to create a comprehensive wellness programs, we at IncentFit have experience creating high engagement in mutli-faceted workplaces. From gym reimbursements to smoking cessation programs, we can help promote wellness in your workplace. Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

Is a Fitbit More Accurate Than a Fitness App?

Is a Fitbit More Accurate Than a Fitness App?

Many companies are investing in fitness trackers to help their employees get active. There are a wide variety of devices on the market. On the high end are Apple Watches; in the middle are devices like Fitbit; and on the lower end, are simple pedometers that typically cost no more than $20. What some companies don’t consider is that many employees already have step trackers on their phones: all Android phones and iPhones come with fitness tracking apps that are free and pre-installed. But just how do these apps measure up to physical trackers? There has long been the notion that an app cannot track fitness with the same level of accuracy as a separate physical device. However, you might be surprised to learn that wearable fitness trackers end up being no more accurate than phone apps.

This was the conclusion reached by a study done by the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers tested a wide range of devices and apps. Participants wore the devices at waist level, on their wrist, and in their pockets while walking on a treadmill. Researchers took note of the steps tracked by each device and analyzed the step data. The results were striking: phone apps performed just as well as wearable devices and smartwatches.

Interestingly, while the step counts for apps and wearable devices were not that different from each other, there was more variation in step counts among wearables. One possible reason for this is that phone apps, for the most part, track your steps the same way: you can use whichever app you like and be assured that you’ll get similar results. On the other hand, wearables have different sensors and step counts are, as a result, measured in different ways. While the report doesn’t specify which wearable is more accurate, the conclusion clear: apps are a more affordable, and more reliable way to track your activity.

Therefore, we recommend that companies looking to invest in fitness should encourage employees to use free apps like Apple Health and Google Fit rather than wearable trackers. The money you save on devices can be leveraged to encourage employees to exercise instead. At IncentFit we’ve designed a rewards program around this philosophy: we encourage companies to redirect the focus from devices, to physical activity. In this end, this approach saves companies thousands of dollars they would normally spend on fitness trackers, and rewards employees for leading healthy active lifestyles.