Employee Wellness Programs

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Social Networks: A Tool for Better Health?

People outside at the Game Developers' Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. (Official GDC: Flickr)

People outside the Game Developers' Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. (Official GDC: Flickr)

By Kamal Menghrajani

We all know we’re supposed to eat a healthy diet, get exercise and reduce stress. But a lot of people don’t find these things very much fun. Employers–who have seen their health premiums shoot up–are trying to inject some excitement into their employee wellness programs.

At the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco last week, Rajiv Kumar talked up ShapeUp–a platform that combines games and social networks to get employees revved up, engaged and, hopefully, more healthy.

ShapeUp works by dividing employees into teams and pitting them head-to-head in a challenge — for example, challenging teams to walk or run the most over the course of three months. The key component of ShapeUp is its social network, where employees can motivate each other by virtual high-fiving and trash-talking throughout the competition.

“Think Facebook for health, if you will.”
San Francisco-based Blue Shield has been using ShapeUp since 2010. “Think Facebook for health, if you will,” said wellness plan director Bryce Williams. Continue reading