The New Employee Wellness Plan – Powered by Nikefuel
By: John Andrews and Ted Rubin
Healthy and happy employees are at a competitive advantage. A recent Harvard Business Review article cites studies that show that every dollar spent on Wellness returns $2.71 in benefit. In my career, I’ve witnessed all manner of efforts to get employees to be better stewards of their health with what I would describe as fair to middling results. Gym membership reimbursements, points and reward programs, free on-site yoga classes, etc. The common theme is most plans are complicated and like new faces at the gym in January, interest and enthusiasm quickly fades.
Last fall, Collective Bias’ head of technology, Jay Thornton and I were having a conversation about the Nike Fuel Band. A great piece of technology that took the pedometer and integrated Nike’s “Just Do It” mentality. The device records your personal activity 24-hours-a-day and converts activity into Nike Fuel Points. Nike also built a great user-interface to data-mine the daily telemetry from your personal activity. Steps, calories, Fuel Points and in the case of Nike+ running paths, times, elevation are all collected and displayed for ease of use. Jay and I had been accustomed to racking up Fuel Points as we were both using the Nike+ iPhone app for some time. The great innovation on both platforms is they seamlessly integrate with social networks like Path, Twitter and Facebook.
What you immediately realize when using the device is that you have a sense of social pressure to be more active. People will begin to notice, and call you out when you have a day without a run. Another phenomenon occurred however that really struck me as the genius of the device… we began to compete with each other and socially challenge each other (aka brag). What’s more is that we became much more aware of our daily fitness levels and hence, more active. Jay took to walking around the sidewalks for conference calls so he could achieve the lofty 3500 Nike Fuel Point goal he set for himself and in a couple months was back to a 32-inch waste pants size.
Nike’s approach is brilliant and a new dimension in social marketing. People are engaging with its platform socially around its core brand promise. Nike has cleverly integrated its lines into Nike+ giving the user the ability to track specific shoes, but that’s not the point. It has made its brand experience social and not in the 2009 way of adding Facebook likes, it actually integrated socialization into the product itself. Every run posted to Path or Tweeted reinforces the Nike brand promise whether the user was adorned with its products or not.
After seeing the impact on Jay and myself, we decided to get Fuelbands for the entire Collective Bias team as holiday gifts. It will be interesting to monitor the impact of 50+ people challenging and goading each other to better health. I’d be willing to bet the ROI on such a purchase is enormous given the impact on overall fitness levels, awareness of daily activity and just the fun our folks will have interacting around the devices.
We also look at this process as a way to not only socialize our team and have them experience social media marketing within our eco-system (an incredibly valuable learning experience), but as a relationship building tool. These daily interactions bring the team closer; amplify the Collective Bias message that we care about employees and each other, and create company Brand Advocates, the best kind, who happily spread out new media ethos far and wide.
Kudos to Nike for integrating social into its core business model. Kudos to Collective Bias employees for participating in our new wellness plan and sharing with each other every day.