by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

We’re surprised how often we hear HR folks (and even the occasional seasoned wellness pro) suggest that requiring wellness challenge participants to wear a Fitbit® or Jawbone®, Garmin®, or any of dozens of other devices will prevent cheating. It doesn’t. If there are bragging rights, you’ll get a handful of cheaters. Add an incentive and you’ll get more. Make it a rich incentive and you’ll be surprised at some folks’ creative abilities to game the system.

But preventing cheating shouldn’t be the goal; it’s the problem. When you require participants in a wellness program to “prove” they did this or that, you’re saying we don’t trust you. And when you tie validation of health activities to incentives/disincentives, you turn off a lot of people often the employees who need your help most.

Want to limit corner cutters and flagrant fakers? Here’s how:

By Naketa Perryman and Jordan Lamar, StayWell

Imagine setting out on a road trip without knowing which route to take, or how many miles to your destination, or if you have enough gas, or if you packed everything you need. Having a detailed plan improves the likelihood of success. The same thing goes for launching a wellness champion network.

In Stefan Gingerich’s article, The Science Behind Wellness Champion Networks, we learned about research that suggests social influences — family, friends, coworkers — can greatly affect health behavior. A wellness champion network allows employers to leverage the power of social influence to encourage healthy behaviors in employees.

Science Behind Wellness Champion Networks -- Trophy Image.

By Stefan Gingerich, MS, senior research analyst at StayWell Health Management, responsible for surveys and normative statistics

Think of a champion. Would you describe this person as strong? Charismatic? Do you want to be more like him or her? If so, you’ve just experienced the influence of a wellness champion network, and why the people who lead them are often referred to as champions.

A wellness champion network is a workplace team charged with increasing understanding of the employee health management program and introducing healthier norms among peers.

Let’s look at the science behind these networks and why so many organizations use them to create a culture of health.  We’ll start by considering past research about the impact of coworkers, friends, family, and other relationships on our health. Here’s what we know. These social connections can influence our behavior in subtle ways. Going out to dinner with friends affects how we spend our time and money. Ever asked someone about openings with their employer? If so, you know how friends can influence our ability to land a job.