Recent news reported scientists found new strategies to motivate employees to stay fit. It was estimated that over 80% of employers in the United States use various financial stimuli in order to motivate their employees to exercise.
Dr. Mitesh S. Patel of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia conducted a study with a team to find new ways to make employees to keep fit. For the research, the team studied 281 overweight individuals who signed up online.
The participants were asked to state their height and weight. Using a smartphone application to count the steps, the individuals’ activity was tracked for 13 weeks. The participants were required to take 7, 000 steps each day and then were divided into four groups.
One group was given no incentive and another received $1, 40 for each day they met the goal. One of the groups lost $1, 40 from a monthly incentive every time they didn’t meet their goal. The other group drew lottery numbers with the possibility to win $50 if they had taken the 7, 000 steps. Daily feedback was given on their step count.
The results showed that the group which lost the incentive achieved their step goal on 45% of days. The lottery group met their goal on 36% of the days and those who received the incentive managed to take 7, 000 steps in 35% of days. The group with no incentive whatsoever met their goal on almost 30% of days. In the following weeks the step count was still tracked but participants weren’t given any incentives.
During these weeks, step counts decreased for all the participants in the study. Marc Mitchell of the University of Toronto claimed that
‘According to a few seminal behavioral economics experiments, people don’t like losing something twice as much as they like gaining the same thing, as a rule of thumb’.
Moreover, he said that another approach might have given different results. For example, he suggested that the researchers should have tracked the steps of every person before the study. Also, they should have asked the participants to increase their step count by 2, 000 rather than setting the same goal for all the individuals.
Nonetheless, Dr. Patel said that measuring the activity with an application might be useful for some individuals. However, those who are overweight or suffer from a chronic condition are unlikely to increase their activity. This is why financial incentives might be more helpful.
He also added that approximately 80% of employers in the United States use some kind of financial incentives wellness programs. Researchers concluded is very important that the new strategies to motivate employees to stay fit are introduced in employers’ agendas as they can show really significant changes.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia