Long Term Wellness, or just Fit for a Bit?

The City of Huntingburg, Indiana, has committed to a Fitbit-only wellness program for its employees1 – is it a good idea?

Target recently made a bold statement about the importance of wellness by offering Fitbits to its 335,000 employees2 – is the money well spent?

Encouraging your employees to live a healthier lifestyle makes sense on many levels – but if the goal is to cost-effectively engage employees on a long-term basis, is it wise to push a program that uses a single device?

The answer to all three questions: no.

Consider that these Fitbit-only programs require the wearers of other activity trackers to abandon the devices they’ve already purchased, use and trust – and that population is significant. Yes, Fitbit is the industry leader when it comes to activity trackers, but it far from dominates the marketplace. In fact, during Q2 2015, it accounted for just 24% of device sales while Apple iWatch (20%) and Xiaomi (17%) were second and third, respectively.3  With a Fitbit-only program, many people, clearly, will be asked to give up their own preferred devices. Is this the best way to ensure long-term compliance?

Consider also that, even among those who have gone to the expense of purchasing a Fitbit, many give up using them.  According to research by Rock Health, “more than 70% of Fitbit purchasers from the first three quarters of 2014 churned before the end of the year.” 4  Essentially, interest and motivation wanes – and more than two-thirds of Fitbit users give up using what they once believed was beneficial.

Likewise, research by consulting firm Endeavour Partners found that one-third of consumers who own a “modern activity tracker” (which they described as devices similar to Jawbone, Fitbit, Nike, and Misfit) stopped using it within six months.5

Given these statistics, will the allure of a $25 gift card every three months be enough to keep employees engaged? Probably not.

The bottom line: wouldn’t it be better to have a health and wellness program that allows participants to use the device of their choice?  Better yet, wouldn’t it be better to have a program that requires NO ADDITIONAL DEVICE AT ALL – a program that simply uses the participant’s smartphone?

Just such a program was recently developed in Michigan. Because of its unique mix of technologies and program strategies, purchasing additional hardware isn’t required, although data from tracking devices can be used.

In the “CARROT Health & Wellness Program”, participants who download the free app are given a personalized activity goal based on the participant’s own activity history.  This allows the employee to be rewarded, not for achieving an arbitrarily-assigned target (does 10,000 steps sound familiar?), but for meeting their own personalized goal.  

Through a company-branded Rewards Center on the app, employees then receive exclusive rewards for meeting their personalized activity goals. The Rewards Center is only accessible to the company’s employees. All of this takes place on the participant’s phone.

To celebrate accomplishments and encourage continued progress, CARROT sends automated messages directly to the participants’ lock screens. The CARROT program also involves local businesses who are given the opportunity to provide additional discounts and special offers to participants.

Rather than a “one-size-fits-all” program which typically only engages the healthiest members of a population (10,000 steps, remember?), CARROT’s individualized approach incentivizes and benefits all participants.  And it’s all done, solely, on the participant’s phone.

No extra device needed.

The CARROT app is available on the iTunes and Google Play stores (search “CARROT PASS”). Information about CARROT Health & Wellness can be found at http://www.carrotpass.com/wellness.

 

Sources:  1  http://www.duboiscountyfreepress.com/fit-by-bit-activity-trackers-cut-citys-healthcare-costs/;  2 http://blog.wellable.co/2015/09/21/target-offers-fitbits-to-335000-employees-ignores-byod/; 3 http://blog.wellable.co/2015/08/31/q2-wearable-shipments-fitbit-24-apple-20-and-xiaomi-17-lead-pack/; 4 http://rockhealth.com/deconstructing-fitbit-s-1/ ;  5 http://mobihealthnews.com/31697/survey-one-third-of-wearable-device-owners-stopped-using-them-within-six-months/