One of the hottest topics of the 21st-century business world is none less than health; employers are actively beginning to emphasize the importance of employees’ physical health in the workplace, and everyone is raising their eyebrows thinking “why discuss this now?”. If for a second you thought that the cha-ching industry turned from making profit to helping employers regain their dignity back, we applaud your pure heart. The truth is everything but noble and yet, paradoxically enough, very good for the economy. Looking to save as much as possible by cutting back on their workers’ paid leave costs and have a 100% commitment at their workplace, the Bosses have raised concern for their employees’ health and opened the dialogue prompting everyone in the work pyramid to start caring for their physical health with nothing but a dedicated commitment. Now, if that’s not noble capitalism, we don’t know what is.
Humor aside, things are serious
Although we can’t really jump for joy knowing they want us healthy so we could work tirelessly, we do have to admit physical activity and overall physical health play a huge role in our productivity at work as well as the increased life quality outside of the office. Aside from twitching at the known trigger-motifs of the currently ruling (and utterly dehumanizing) capitalist society expressing sudden interest for our physical health, we’ve done some research on our own, targeting the importance of physical activity for our health. What we’ve found out isn’t comforting at all. Although everyone knew regular physical activity promotes good health, keeps us in shape and improves various aspects of our physical and mental body, nobody ever thought not working out could be as dangerous.
The research suggested that “the health risks posed by physical inactivity in the developed world are at levels comparable to the risk factors of smoking and alcohol use”. And, it’s not just that; as World Health Organization (2002:60) observes, “physical inactivity, the main contributor to obesity, is estimated to cause, globally, about 10-16% of cases each of breast cancer, colon and rectal cancers and diabetes mellitus, and about 22% of ischaemic heart disease”. Essentially, unless we include physical activity in our lives, we are facing the threat of being diagnosed with a number of incurable illnesses. In this scenario, absenteeism from work would be our least worry… right?
What’s our health got to do with the economy?
For those in good (and bad) health – everything.
Every business benefits from their workers being happy, healthy and satisfied at work. With that in mind, most firms look to provide their employees with the best environment to work in, good salary, bonuses, options for improvement at their workplace, etc. However, companies that aren’t that observant and/or aren’t too focused on providing solid working conditions for their employees do face the problem of having their staff getting sick often, taking leave of absence and – obviously – missing out on a lot of work. The company costs suffer under these dynamics, significantly compromising their budget and overall costs. Still, it appears that the problem with absenteeism at work doesn’t only relate to the companies that aren’t fair to their employees. Some research suggests that it is individuals’ personal out-of-the-office lifestyle that reflects their behavior at work.
While on an individual level physical inactivity impacts individual’s health in every negative way possible it, at the same time, it makes a direct and indirect financial impact on the costs to the economy and society. And how exactly is the economy jeopardized? Sick days, productivity losses and illness-associated compensation directly affect the business arena and its effect on virtually all spheres of life it is linked to.
Social scientists have a say in this, too
Although, on autopilot, we tend to link physical activity to physical benefits such as a more attractive physique, lower blood pressure, and a healthier heart, it turns out regular exercise impacts the way we think as well.
Social scientists indicate that our mental flora is directly linked to our physical regimen with the implications primarily relevant to our performance at work. The research was conducted on individual employees whose work performance was measured/compared based on the days when they did and did not have any physical activity throughout the work week. In terms of their engagement at the office, the end result went in favor of those who worked out regularly.
A number of cognitive benefits such as faster learning, sharper memory, improved concentration, enhanced creativity, prolonged mental stamina and lower stress rates are direct result of regular exercise inclusion into our everyday routine, so – in terms of work engagement – they do make for a chunk of nice qualities to have while being engaged on a project. Plus, you look fit (and who doesn’t like fit, right?). Apart from these cognitive benefits, exercise is known to elevate mood which directly impacts your performance at work along with your ability to foster collaborations and build professional relationships.
But, I’m too busy to work out regularly
We get it, most of us are. There are days when work is all we can think about: the overwhelming string of meetings, deadlines, projects and other commitments simply takes too much of our time. Still, an interesting thing to think about in this domain is this: do we really don’t have enough time to squeeze in a workout or do we not find that workout a priority given the time we have available?
Are companies doing anything about this issue?
It appears they are.
For most, regular exercising is still perceived as a luxury: complete all tasks in a day, spend time with the family, have a workout AND go to bed before midnight? Impossible. At least, that’s what it appears to be. So, companies are trying to find the best compromise and get everyone moving.
Along with organizing group sports outings like basketball, volleyball, doubles tennis, soccer and other competence-enhancing activities that not only have a positive impact on individual employees’ well-being but directly contribute to a team’s success, employers are starting to use fitness apps and pedometers to measure their employee’s fitness progress. Noticeable benefits of this structured fitness employee monitoring? Team awareness, enjoyment, supportive environment, measurable achievement and motivation triggered through social support.
Yes, they do want us to stay healthy to work more but – those we love want us healthy and kicking, too. Maybe including regular physical activity in our everyday isn’t such a bad idea after all?
You may not have heard of it per se, but you’ve definitely been living by it – gamification is the ultimate winning modus operandi of everyone aiming for success and looking to pave the road to it with a little bit of fun and a hefty prize.
What exactly do we mean by that? It’s simple, really: gamification is both self-taught and socially imposed thrill of optimizing the journey to your achievements for triumph. Simply put, every action you hope to accomplish – no matter how dear to your heart (and wallet!) – threatens to, eventually, become a chore and a drab. To make the journey more interesting and encouraging the human psyche needs a positive stimulus, something that would turn even the hardest of tasks into a fun, entertaining endeavor so it more resembles a gameplay than an actual chore. That’s where gamification steps in; factors such as competing with others, keeping scores, defining a “win”, and having fun in the process of challenging both yourself and others have been around since we’ve rationalized the concept of “working for your goals” and “goals” themselves. All you’ve been (sub)consciously doing all this time on your path to achievement has now been defined through a term called gamification.
The operative structure of gamification
Although we’ve been familiar with gamification (one way or the other) over the last X decades, we are only now able to comprehend its magnanimous effect on virtually all aspects of our lives – from benign everyday activities to our businesses, health, wellness and even our relationships and family dynamics. While it may sound as yet another buzzword we’ll eventually get chocked on, gamification is everything but: as a concept, gamification is an imperative operative method of interactions, shaping the way we communicate with the world and the way we communicate with ourselves.
Is gamification pre-planned, you ask? Yes, it can be. However, most of it goes by unnoticed: when we are shopping, dating, buying coffee, traveling, banking, career planning, learning new skills, managing our health, etc. we are embracing simple game mechanics and letting them shape our thoughts, desires, habits and ultimately – experiences.
Not all gamification results are necessarily positive but they, for sure, are undeniable. The best way to utilize gamification and turn it to our advantage is to, primarily, understand its operative methods. Gamification is not blunt motivation, an actual game or a magic potion that leads to immediate results; it is the art of smoothing up the progress of play. In applying it correctly, we are looking at leading more productive personal and business lives, as well as creating a better climate for our health, fitness and mental balance.
Gamification is in our DNA
As human beings, our brains are wired to adapt to patterns; physiologically and biologically, the benefits and drawbacks of those patterns are multi-fold and can lead to both positive and negative changes in our behavioral patterns. Gamification is one of the patterns our brains respond positively to; its benefits include a boost of confidence, joy, happiness, relaxation, and are known to lead to re-creation. In using game mechanics to facilitate play, we grow to be more open to insights, outer motivation, and inspiration. Through gamification, the brain and body join in a mission to embrace new perspectives all while adopting and practicing new skills; changing the patterns subtly help rebuild our mental and physical structures inspiring play, new knowledge and change. And even though technology can’t miraculously change behavior, it can be a powerful influence and medium for behavioral change.
Is everyone wired for gamification? Yes and no. It is an undeniable a fact that games have incredibly expanded in the last two decades, broadening the gaming market to an unbelievable extent. Judging by Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, games have not only become a prima societal trend but it turns out that “Millennials and Generation X have been gamified since birth”. What does this mean exactly? It means that the two generations have adopted the gamification mindset from the early age and got accustomed to recognizing it and responding to it. For them, implementation of gamification methods in their everyday life is not a forced or an unusual trait; it’s an optimal, natural way of living. Given that these two generations are currently the dominant group on the markets which are growing into a solely digital arena, we are to conclude that the next wave of business leaders, customers, employees, regulators, partners, and suppliers will also understand the games-mindset and implement it to all spheres of their lives.
Essentially, games are everywhere and you’ll respond to them sooner or later, regardless of your age. Why? Because your brain is wired to do so. Naturally, the level of your personal engagement with gamified content does play a (crucial) role in your becoming more or less involved with it, as much as it plays a role in the time necessary for you to start using gamification to your advantage.
The revolution of business and fitness behind gamification
While the notion of a “game” does sound a bit childish, the idea behind gamification isn’t the game alone but an entire realm of product/service based on gaming methods.
Facebook, Linkedin, Tinder, Trip Advisor, and Fitbit are all gamified, super successful products on the digital market showing how easily we all respond to gamification. With that said, there is no doubt that using a games-mindset as a base for a business approach can revolutionize behaviors, motivation, and engagement; however, the mere use of game mechanisms, such as challenges, leaderboards, levels and badges, points, etc. cannot make any difference on their own. For a business to actually have an impact, understanding of a) its core concept b) the product/service target audience and c) ways to help the user solve real-life problems will make you able to pump up your business strategy with gamification.
The idea is to include that same “win” moment in your service/product that games use as their finish line. Associate your service/product with fulfillment, emotional engagement and the idea of customer’s self-importance; ultimately, this will lead to a change in the behavior of your users and help them associate your brand with joy.
A completely logical question to ask is: why would a game-based fitness scenario help anyone be fitness-motivated and stay focused? The answer to that is: because losing or intentionally gaining weight, staying motivated long-term, and keeping the initial burst of hope and excitement about working out is hard and often – impossible to achieve on your own. Although willpower is the essence (and should be the essence) of all human undertaking, the technology-driven world is trying to help you loosen up a bit while still achieving amazing results.
Although still a new trend in fitness, gimification-based fitness apps are encouraging individuals to ride on a health wave, helping them modify and improve their lifestyles, achieve their fitness goals, stay on track and – more importantly – stay healthy.
The gamification methods we see taking over the fitness world are based on the best segments of gaming – gratification and reward. Unlike working out with personal trainers or on your own where punishment seems to be the dominant feature, gimification-based fitness apps are encouraging and optimized to motivate and support the individual on their fitness journey. In fact, gimification-integrated elements with the fitness app have proven to result not only in the increasing popularity of the app itself but also increased levels of individuals’ motivation. It’s very reassuring to know that these apps work on everyone, regardless of their age. Our limbic brains like gratification in every form and everywhere which makes using mHealth workout methods the perfect option for everyone.
Smart mHealth applications have already made their ways into some modern gyms and workout methods and we are positive that the future in fitness is all about fitness apps and other digital fitness methods.
In the world of today, things are getting pretty narrow: where there’s no digital, there’s no success; and – where there’s no gimification – there’s no positive outcome, either. The games trend is rapidly expanding, allowing new technologies such as VR, AI and AR to be introduced and some old ones to get reinforced by being digitally optimized. In combination with personal data, a games-mindset will push us to self-optimize and win. We are looking forward to seeing it all happen… aren’t you?