How can a virtual race improve corporate wellness?

Companies are scrambling to boost employee health by any means available. In part, this is altruism — a sincere desire to improve staffers’ physiques and psyches. Beyond altruism, boosting employee health can also boost profits because many companies with more than 60 staff now self-insure, ie pay for employee health care costs.

Many people assume that because employees need to get paid to work, they’ll only do work they’re paid for. That’s the way capitalism works, right? So many companies try to power the health-mobile with their favorite fuel — money.  Paying for play seems easy. Pay more, get more. Gift cards for watching a few health videos — check! Enter a raffle for a $50 gift certificate for attending a wellness fair — check! Healthiebux for a diabetes tutorial — check!

But it turns out that psychologists are discovering that paying people, particularly for behaviors and actions they’re naturally inclined towards, is demotivating.

To everyone but economists, it’s obvious that people work for many reasons beyond money — pride, joy in team-work, competitiveness, self-expression, a desire to connect and collaborate.

So why not fuel employee wellness with pride rather than pennies? People innately desire health. People are strongly influenced by the habits and views of their peers. Which brings us to virtual races for corporate wellness. By tapping into pride, competition with peers and camaraderie, races inspire individual fitness AND a healthy corporate culture. This isn’t just theory. Here’s an analysis of the positive physical, psychological and social outcomes of a recent corporate virtual race.


  1. Studies show that, contrary to economists’ dogma, once people’s basic needs are met, more money doesn’t make people happier.
  2. Studies show that paying people to do what they enjoy doing anyway can reduce enjoyment and dedication.
  3. Beyond physical fitness, running can have profound psychological benefits.