With a greater number of employees working remotely, people are turning to their devices to track personal progress, seek motivation and monitor their wellbeing as they figure out a new pattern to stay fit, healthy and happy when working from home.
Workforce wellbeing and health has turned into an even bigger priority for companies. Numerous studies link a healthier business culture to some decrease in employee turnover and greater employee engagement and business productivity. We are now seeing a confluence of these trends, as employers wake-up to wearables’ possibility to enhance the health of their workforce. However, knowing potential and understanding how to unlock it are two quite different things. How can employers promote adoption, deliver insights and conquer challenges in regards to getting value from wearables?
The logic behind offering wearables is apparent. If employees have greater insight into their own health, they’ll be more inclined to make healthier choices and as a result overall company health needs to improve. For this to play out though, workers will need to have an interest in enhancing their wellbeing. As anticipated, employers who are already using wearables as part of their benefits programme discovered that uptake was higher amongst workers who were already interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The challenge is engaging workers that aren’t as concentrated on actively enhancing their physical wellbeing. US insurance company, John Hancock, was one of the first in the industry to apply mandatory fitness monitoring to all its schemes. Meanwhile, in the UK, Vitality allows employees to connect their exercise tracker or phones for their strategy to earn points and rewards for adopting a healthy lifestyle. Later on, wearable data and fitness monitoring might even become a standard requirement for insurance providers.
In the meantime, employees gain two-fold from wearables, gaining info insights in their health and decreased insurance premiums.
But what’s next? Forward-thinking HR teams are already considering how to add further value by helping workers interpret and act on the information generated by wearables, and how this positively influences their ability deliver on their benefits strategy.
By tapping into the information generated by wearables, companies can acquire real-time insights to the activity levels of their workforce, allowing them to produce more concentrated and effective wellness plans.
When we then add artificial intelligence (AI) into the equation, the potential for pre-emptive care and cost savings becomes huge. For example, if people could look at the present action levels of employees, together with other health factors, like their propensity to some hereditary conditions, companies could help assess their probability of ill health later in life. Giving employees an early warning that they are at greater risk of poor health would probably inspire them to take preventative action now.
However, if companies are to derive real value in their public’s health data, they might have to take on a significant trust building exercise. Trust in data collection and use has declined in the past few years and it’s understandable that people may feel reluctant to present their company access to private data.
Employees need to feel confident that any information collected about them won’t affect their position within the company. There would also be a concern that employees vulnerable to these conditions could see a hike in their private medical insurance premiums.
What is more, the regulatory hurdles which encircle GDPR could add another layer of sophistication. There’s not any justification for companies to collect or store folks’ health information — meaning that drilling down to the micro level of a workers’ health would contravene legislation.
Bearing the above in mind, it is clear to see why many companies are introducing wearables in certain capability in their offices — our study found that 33 percent of companies are already collecting data from wearables and this is set to soar to 81% within the next 3 years.
While the trend for wearables appears set to remain, and even grow, companies must put safeguards and processes in place if employers are to utilize the data created to greater impact. We have seen businesses cross a line with worker tracking, with important backlash from employees and society at large.
Before offering wearables or some other tracking technology to their workforce, employers must consider their motives and communicate these clearly and transparently to their people. This will enable employees understand the purpose of wearable technologies and view it as a benefit.
As present worldwide events are forcing many individuals to work from home for the near future, using technologies to encourage employees to adopt healthy behaviours will become increasingly important. If employers may use the tools at their disposal effectively and get this right, the health benefits to their individuals and companies will be significant — today, and in the foreseeable future.