It used to be that your employer might suggest a wellness program, but stick a fork in that because IBM is about to serve us the future: competitive weight loss "gamefication" apps for the workplace that will give tired, hungry employees everywhere the real-time skinny on their caloric intake and other fun, health-related statistics. Because if there's anything the younger generation understands, it's online gaming.
So now you can compete against your co-workers for a promotion, plus losing those stubborn last five pounds just in time for summer. And you thought The Biggest Loser was just a teevee show.
IBM's idea, which was under development for a decade, received patent approval in December. So how does it work, you ask? You enter your own data regarding your exercise and eating habits (ah, ah, ah -- don't fudge the numbers!) and the app will measure you against your co-workers and award cash prizes for...winning? Or it might just make you feel incredibly guilty for fudging your stats after eating one too many pieces of fudge. Just kidding; I don't know about the "feeling guilty" part for sure, but there will be cash "rewards" for weight loss because as the app creator says, "everyone understands cash." True, dat.
The app could also eventually plug into social media games such as Farmville, or whatever Facebook games you keep getting annoying invites for but don't want to play.
I'm all for health and fitness, but I'm not for making it a workplace competition because employees have enough stress on the job as it is. Hey, John, I'm going to need you to re-work the report AND to stop eating so many Bugles, m'kay? But John has been sitting on his expanding ass in front of a computer for hours and he had to grab lunch on the run today, which, granted, wasn't the most healthful option, but he worked late last night and he didn't have the time or energy to make himself a sack lunch and The Daily Show was starting and then it was bedtime and now the app keeps reminding him that he's pressing his luck trying to beat his co-worker with the super-high metabolism. Every office has one, doesn't it? Sigh. Big bucks, no whammies!
And will employers and insurers have access to all the "gaming" data that's being generated? Hmm. Now that could present a few problems, and make employees a bit nervous. The human mind keeps getting in the way of technological progress. I know I'm bringing the glass-half-empty perspective this morning, but my coffee cup is half empty. Or is it half full? Hey, I'm trying to stay positive here. Well, who knows how this competitive workplace dieting stuff will shape up. Maybe this app could turn out to be just the thing the workplace has been waiting for all these years. Here's a quick overview.