Wellness App Aims To Make Government Employees Happier
The program moves beyond counting steps and tracking habits to measuring and improving workers' overall wellbeing
To create an app that would help federal government workers improve their lives, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Federal Occupational Health division decided to tackle a difficult-to-define area of wellness: happiness. The resulting product, called Felix, was created in collaboration with Washington, D.C.-based boutique agency Brave UX. Felix—named for the Latin word for “happy”—uses research, data and behavioral change models to improve the wellbeing of employees who use the app and ultimately decrease sick days and employee turnover.
The goal is to improve employees’ physical health by improving their happiness. Rather than focusing on one discrete measurement such as the number of steps walked in a day, the team behind Felix decided to concentrate on four main areas to reach their objective of increasing overall happiness: movement, sleep, eating and relaxation.
Felix, like other tech personalities such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, has an engaging temperament that is designed to keep users motivated to reach their wellness goals. Use of the app is voluntary for employees, so crafting a likable ‘personality’ for Felix was crucial to convincing employees to stick with it.
During development, the app was tested with users of varying ages to ensure it is accessible to all employees interested in participating. Felix’s virtual trainers are tailored to specific goals, ranging from mindfulness to extreme fitness, giving users a custom experience that is specific to their needs.
The app aims to gamify wellness by creating challenges for users based on the preferences they express while setting up their profile. Employees can earn rewards, such as virtual badges, for completing the challenges and can share those rewards with other participating employees.
Over time, once Felix learns more about the user, the app’s algorithm will adapt and customize challenges for the individual. Users will also be able to join groups pertaining to their particular interests—like hiking and biking —to gain support from other like-minded employees.