In or Out: The Ups and Downs of Wearables at Work
Workplace Wellness The majority of employers miss a simple truth behind a successful program: The best wearable device is the one that employees will keep wearing and using.
With so many wearable devices to choose from, the employer is not to blame for the oversight. Bombarded by technology companies to purchase fitness trackers for the staff, HR directors and wellness professionals face the simple but still troubling question, “How do we do this?”
How we got here
Corporate wellness in America is at a tipping point with the wearables industry. Employers see these devices as an integral part of improving the health of their employee population. But because of the business model of the wearable device companies—offer low-cost products; provide no education to end users; add in apps when the end user loses interest—employers are gun-shy to make a serious investment in the technology.
"For employers to remain influential and innovative within this space for their employees, one simple ingredient will be needed—education about the technology."
Those employers who have integrated the devices into the wellness programs are uncertain which technology platform works best to track data, too. And the privacy concerns regarding data collection are a hurdle yet to be overcome. Employees want to be part of a program that uses devices as a complement toward improving their health rather than as a surveillance tool.
Data that is tracked from wearable devices can be tied to health insurance policy premiums or other incentive programs to reduce health care costs. Other benefits to having employees utilize fitness trackers include employee weight loss and cohesive team-building as a result of workplace wellness challenges.
Bridging the knowledge gap
For employers to remain influential and innovative within this space for their employees, one simple ingredient will be needed—education about the technology. The wearables industry is here to stay. Statistics by Gartner indicate by 2018 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. Right now, approximately 30 million people in the United States are eligible to receive a wearable fitness tracker if most companies with at least 100 employees were to adopt them in their wellness programs.
Understanding the science behind the technology will help keep employers educated on how to best motivate their employees. The best way to gain this information? Ask the wearable device companies pointed questions on how to increase employee engagement—and then ask again.
Armed with that knowledge and being consistently transparent with how employee data is used, employers will know how to bridge the present gap between motivation and trust and therefore create a healthier and more loyal workforce—and bottom line.