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Admin September 22, 2014 2 min read

Researchers say “Do not pass go” on wellness gamification—One of 3 things you need to know this week in employee benefits

Experts warn against wellness gamification

Researchers from Brigham Young University are raising red flags about gamification as a way to stoke employee motivation, participation and behavior change in corporate wellness programs.

The BYU research tandem, Cameron Lister and Josh West, analyzed more than 2,000 health and fitness apps. They concluded that the most popular ones, including Fitbit and DietBet, use gamification in some form—the most common being social or peer pressure (45%), digital rewards (24%), competitions (18%) and leaderboards (14%).

“It’s just been assumed that gamified apps will work,” Lister notes, “but there has been no research to show that they’re effective for people long term. Does earning a badge on your screen actually change your health behavior?”

West adds: “There’s a missed opportunity to influence healthy behavior because most gamified health apps are only aimed at motivation. Motivation is important, but people also need to develop skills that make behavior change easy to do.”

Sparking then sustaining that behavior change is just one of the ways robust communication can power up a gamification approach. Hook employees in with fun and prizes, while honing employees’ lifestyle habits to focus on wellness and also helping them along with other tips and resources as they make better food and activity choices.

IRS publishes guidelines for employers to complete ACA reporting forms

The IRS has published draft instructions that tell employers how to complete several forms that fill reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

Forms 1094-B and 1095-B are written for insurers and other similar organizations that don’t that report to the IRS as large employers. Forms 1094-C and 1095-C will be completed by organizations subject to the employer mandate.

When finalized, the forms will allow the agency to check overall compliance with the individual and employer mandates, as well as verify employees’ eligibility for ACA subsidies.

Although they are still only in the draft stage, the forms—required for reporting in calendar year 2015—show that reporting compliance will be far from a cake walk for corporate benefits departments.

This week’s hidden gem: HR pros at nonprofit organizations carry more internal clout

A recent report in Employee Benefit News cites new joint research from XpertHR and Nonprofit HR that shows among nonprofit organizations, the HR staff-to-employee ratio is 1:66.

That makes for strapped departments in relation to organizational size. However, the study also reveals nonprofit HR departments are small but mighty: Nearly half (49.2%) of respondents say there is a “greater recognition of HR among senior leadership,” EBN reports. Among the other half of respondents (46.5%), practitioners say HR influence has remained unchanged.