Thu, Oct 27, 2016 | updated 02:22 PM IST

Friendly competition among co-workers can be good thing

Updated: Jul 17, 2016 12:22 IST

Washington D.C, Jul 17 (ANI): You may want to turn your workplace into a playing field as a new study has suggested that having exercise performances of co-workers compared can motivate them to do more.

Comparing performance to average peers and offering financial incentives are the most effective methods for increasing physical activity among teams of employees, according to the University of Pennsylvania study.

The study shows that different combinations of social comparison feedback and financial incentives can lead to a significant difference in outcomes within workplace competitions.

"Many employers are using workplace competitions and financial incentives to encourage physical activity and other healthy behaviors among their employees." said lead author Mitesh S. Patel, adding "Our findings demonstrate that careful testing can help make these efforts more successful by applying concepts from behavioral economics and combining social and financial incentives."

In the study, 288 employees, grouped into teams of four, were asked achieve at least 7,000 steps per day. Participants used a smartphone app to track their steps and each week received feedback on how their steps and their team's stacked up to peers.

Results revealed that employees who received feedback comparing their performance to the average participant and financial incentives achieved exercise goals at the highest rate during the intervention period. Employees who received feedback compared to the top performers and incentives achieved the goal 38 percent of the time, followed by those who were compared to the average participant but did not receive incentives (30 percent). The team who received feedback comparing their performance to the 75th percentile and did not receive financial incentives achieved their goals only 27 percent of the time.

"While many employers are interested in making wellness efforts more social to increase engagement, based on our findings there is a significant opportunity to go further and improve outcomes by better designing these competitions," said senior author David A. Asch.

The authors found that 95 percent of employees stayed engaged in the study even during the follow-up period and suggest this could be due in-part to the smartphone-based approach to data collection, since many people carry their phone with them wherever they go.

The study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. (ANI)