Last spring when my employer, Metaswitch Networks (a cloud computing and communications software company), decided to launch a wellness program, myself and the rest of the Human Resources team were tasked with figuring out where to start. Many companies today are offering their employees biometric screenings, healthier food options in the kitchen or even subsidized lunches, but because the team at Metaswitch is geographically dispersed across the US, we struggled with finding a program that could be valuable for every employee.
When we were invited by Jawbone to join the pilot program for UP for Groups, it seemed like a good place to start. We didn’t know exactly what to expect in terms of employee response and engagement, but we would soon find out just how successful the UP for Groups program would be.
We were able to launch the program thanks to our healthcare provider, United Healthcare, who provided us with “wellness credits” to pursue a broader program. Using these credits, we were able to purchase UP bands for every US employee who chose to opt in, with employees being eligible to participate from their first day of hire. Currently, we have roughly 205 employees who work out of our US office, and of that number, 145 have opted-in to join our Jawbone program so far.
Here’s how our program works: Each month using our personalized UP for Groups Wellness Portal, our program admin (an HR rep) introduces a new challenge to encourage employees to get up and get stepping. So far our challenges have been step-based and have various teams competing against each other to see who will come out on top. During November, for instance, we competed in a challenge titled “Turkey Trot” where employees were rallied to try and reach 200,000 steps in four weeks. Each month the team with the highest percentage of employees to hit that target is declared the winner. One great feature is that employees can log in to the Wellness Portal to see their team’s progress and the progress of the aggregate group overall. In addition, many employees are becoming “teammates” within the UP App, where they can leave comments, emoticons, and other feedback for their peers.
Our employees love the fact that the program has no barrier for entry in order to join. Once the employee opts-in, they just receive their band and the rest is done for them. Employees are also incentivized to participate in the monthly challenges with prizes awarded to the winning team members – ranging from free lunches to gift cards – and we also held a raffle at the end of the year for participants to win an iPad Mini.
The program has been widely popular throughout the company, and we’re already seeing some impactful cultural shifts take place. Some managers are having stand-up meetings, employees have started going on walks with fellow coworkers, and remote and local employees alike are interacting with each other through the UP App and within the Wellness Portal.
The most powerful change, in my opinion, is that the program has strengthened the social fabric of our company. It has brought together employees from different departments and locales, and has created a new level of familiarity, camaraderie, and teamwork that was previously absent from our dispersed and siloed employee base. With the Jawbone Program in place, we have employees coming together from all areas of the company to encourage one another, share tips and advice, and sometimes talk smack with each other for a little healthy competition.