Gaming the system. Gaming the gaming of the system.

My employer has recently gotten all into “employee health”, mostly in the form of nagging us about what we’re eating. Probably they’re hoping to save on health care costs, but they’re spinning it as “we’re concerned about those of you we haven’t laid off or outsourced yet”. One of the things they’ve done is put “Healthy Choice” stickers on the least objectionable things in the vending machine.

The other day, I noticed that beside the vending machine, they’d put these redemption coupons, where if you collect 3 “Healthy Choice” stickers and stuck them to the coupon, you could redeem it for a free Healthy Choice snack. Hey, I thought, one free snack every 4 days, that sounds like a good idea. Then I read the fine print: you can only redeem the coupons on the first thursday of the month, at the cafeteria, between 11:30 and 12:30. I’m surprised there wasn’t a “beware of the tiger” sign involved in the process somewhere. I’m sure the process was carefully designed to discourage people from redeeming them.

So rather than save up my coupons, and suddenly one day a month having a vast armload of free snacks, I started peeling my stickers off at the vending machines, sticking them to coupons, and leaving them there for others to take. My lead was soon followed, and now every day there are several of these coupons full of stickers, waiting for somebody with a different sense of time spent versus reward gained to try to redeem them. I hope that person walks in on that appointed day with hundreds of these things.

4 thoughts on “Gaming the system. Gaming the gaming of the system.”

  1. How very Dilbert-y of them. I think you and your coworkers should set aside all these coupons full of stickers and at the appointed time go down en masse to redeem all your free snackage. Leaving to one person my cause an attack of conscience (where they feel guilt-ridden) or an attack of bureaucracy (where the cafeteria claims a limit on how many stickers a person an redeem)

  2. I think all of these employee “wellness” programs are a crock. They’re generally based on faulty science and faulty management techniques. Gaming them—in this or other ways—is a totally appropriate response.

  3. Our version of this was far better (and I never say that about my company!). We got an email that you’d get a $100 in gift certificates if you filled out this wellness form (which mostly just told you you needed to eat less and exercise more). I was skeptical, but I filled it out in 10 minute chunks while I was compiling.

    A week later, I got a letter in the mail, with a code. I went online, entered the code, and got to pick $100 in gift cards from a reasonably large set of choices.

    Another week went by, and I got my two $50 gift cards. I’m guessing they were betting on people forgetting partway through the process, but it was worth keeping track for $100.

    It would have been less so for a vending machine treat.

  4. We supposedly had the gift certificate program also, but I was never able to log into the site to fill out the questionnaire. So, bad science, bad management, and bad coding!

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