Almost every wellness company out there offers challenges as a part of their program. As any experienced wellness coordinator knows, those programs are not created equally. To help HR administrators sort through all the choices, here are 11 important questions to ask any vendor that offers to help you run your wellness challenge, or fitness challenges:
1. Do they have a mobile app?
Lack of a mobile app will mean significantly less participation. Employees are far more likely to participate if they can see their steps update throughout the day right on their phone. Also, make sure they support both iOS and Android! Lack of support for either one means a lot of employees will feel left out.
2. Do they allow tracking through apps/devices?
This should be a no-brainer but having support for Fitbits and other fitness trackers/apps is a must in today’s day and age. Even if most employees don’t have fitness trackers, the majority do have smart phones that are already tracking their steps and other activities. In particular, make sure that the vendor supports Apple Health. Apple Health is the most commonly used steps tracker since it’s pre-installed on all iPhones. Also stay away from any platform that only allows their own proprietary fitness tracker. The trackers tend to not be great and employees get upset if they can’t use their existing trackers.
3. Do they offer customer support?
Lack of user support means they don’t really stand by the quality of their product. Make sure that they offer support not just to administrators but to employees directly. Also make sure that support is available by phone, not just by email. If the vendor claims it’s so easy to use that it doesn’t need support, then you can remind them its no added cost to have phone support: no one should be calling in anyway!
4. Do they offer a free trial?
Just like challenge vendors that don’t offer customer support, lack of a free trial is a big red flag. It means that they’re afraid you won’t like the product if you actually use it. Definitely not something you want to gamble on…
5. Do they help you market the challenges?
Getting people interested and engaged requires promotion (and engaging challenge prize ideas). Recurring engagement is absolutely essential for corporate wellness programs to succeed. A good vendor will provide posters and other promotional materials for the office. They should also send out emails (in a work appropriate frequency) and in-app notifications on a regular basis. You might also be interested in the secret to creating engaging fitness challenges.
6. Do they do more than just step challenges?
Step challenges are a great entry point but they get old. Rather than watching participation nosedive, make sure that the vendor can support challenges around nutrition, hydration, meditation/mindfulness, sleep, and various types of fitness. Equally important, make sure the vendor offers a cohesive strategy for maintaining engagement in the long run.
7. Do they allow activity tracking beyond apps/devices?
Many challenge vendors these days do offer integrations with apps and devices like Fitbits. But do they offer more than that? Can employees easily self-report their activity on the honor system? Can administrators easily grant credit to employees or can you require employees submit proof of activity through documents/images or other forms of proof? Finally, can you turn these features on and off on a challenge-by-challenge basis? This might seem like overkill, but keeping employees engaged means creating interesting and varied challenges. That’s just not possible if all you have to work with is fitness trackers.
8. Do they make use of gamification effectively?
This is a big one. Most vendors will just offer steps challenges to see who can take the most steps. That gets boring after the first time you realize that John in Accounting is a marathon runner and gets way more steps than everyone else. You’ll need the ability to make more approaches than just who can get the most of something (maybe thinking about group challenges vs personal challenges). For example, rather than one big challenge, why not break people up by different fitness/activity levels and create separate challenges within each level? Or create a challenge that will see which team can maintain a no candy and soda streak the longest?
9. Are they primarily focused on consumers or businesses?
Be wary of vendors that primarily offer services to consumers rather than businesses. Working with the general populous is different than working with an organization. Organizations have code of conduct and other legal requirements. Most importantly, people in an organization work together and know each other. That means there are ways to make use of the relationship to boost participation that can’t be done with the general populous at large.
10. Do they require a long-term contract?
If the product is really good, you’ll stay on with or without a contract. Vendors that require contracts with minimum committments are afraid of clients leaving. Be very wary of this as you can get stuck in a one-year (or more) arrangement that goes south after the first month.
11. What’s the price?
Last, but certainly not least, is the cost of the platform. Be wary of anything that’s too cheap or too expensive. Focus on most bang for your buck rather than just lowest price. The cheapest vendors often skimp on important things like usability and communications.
At IncentFit we offer a Challenge platform that passes this test with flying colors. We’ve built it from the ground up to have your best interests in mind. Once you’ve done your due diligence, get started with IncentFit.