There is no disputing the fact that corporate wellness technology is skyrocketing. Along with implementing a robust wellness program platform for the employee wellness programs, including compatible wearable device technology is essential to stay on par with the latest employee wellbeing trends.
Studies show that one in every 10 American adults owns a wearable device. The global wearable market was anticipated to reach a sales figure of $25 billion in 2018, with 245 million units getting sold in 2019.
Employers are supporting employee health and wellbeing with the right benefits and perks, and employee wellness programs are one of them, as employers are also looking for different ways to boost employee engagement and workplace wellness.
Gamification has been an effective employee engagement strategy, and implementing workplace wellness software that supports fitness devices and tracking apps is a good gamification move.
According to a JAMA study conducted on 33,000 employees at BJ’s Wholesale Club, providing wearable devices made the workers pay more attention to their physical activity and body weight. Also, their exercise levels had increased. However, there was little effect on the blood pressure or glucose levels, and not much change in the healthcare costs, which is a major reason to implementing employee wellness programs.
With these contradicting theories, the ongoing debate about the impact of incorporating corporate wellness technology that is compatible with wearable devices to the employee wellness programs has made it clear about its pros and cons. Depending on the advantages and the drawbacks of supporting wearable devices, employers can decide to incorporate the needed corporate wellness technology to their wellness program platform.
Here are the key pros and cons of incorporating wearable device compatible wellness software with the corporate wellness programs –
Pros of Wearable Fitness Devices
The key idea of implementing corporate wellness programs is to improve employee wellbeing, reduce absenteeism rates, lower healthcare costs, enhance productivity, boost employee engagement, and lower employee turnover rates. All of these factors directly or indirectly help in business growth and its profit margin.
In addition to boosting employee engagement and building a positive workplace culture, gamification through incentives and fitness devices can make the corporate wellness challenge activities a fun venture.
Reliable fitness trackers can accurately measure physical activity, including step count, distance travelled, calories burnt, heart rate, oxygen saturation levels, body temperature, and other health and wellbeing parameters.
As employees can track their activity progress easily, it becomes easy for them to achieve their wellbeing goals, and earn the wellness program rewards.
The increased morale and fun factors ensure higher participation and engagement, increasing their chances of maintaining their healthy lifestyle.
According to the Affordable Care Act offers, employers can offer wellness incentives like rate discounts, gym memberships, and other employer-sponsored incentives. All this can be done when the fitness tracking of the employee wellbeing programs can be evaluated.
Cons of Wearable Fitness Devices
One of the key downsides of having employer-sponsored fitness trackers is the concern of invasion of employee privacy. Many employees feel that health and wellbeing is their personal matter, and they do not wish anyone to be aware of the details. Also, there is a prevailing fear amongst the employees and Labor lawyers of being discriminated against based on their health issues or case.
According to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), it is a legal violation to have access to employee health data. However, fitness trackers, either personal or employer-sponsored do not fall under the HIPAA violations. Only when a healthcare provider asks for the fitness device data, the HIPAA regulations come into play.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must not discriminate against the workforce based on their health conditions. However, employees feel having access to their fitness tracking data, including their heart rate, weight, and other such metrics can cause potential discrimination, and affect their chances of promotion or career growth.
Since reducing healthcare costs is one of the key ideas of implementing employee wellness programs, many legal experts feel that the employee’s health status may be used as an important decision-making element by the employers.
Also, there have been studies that suggest that though wearable devices do a pretty good job of tracking physical activity, they cannot really change employee behaviors.
Healthy habits are formed after consistent efforts for many months. However, the data obtained from the fitness tracker is usually not different from that of the previous day. Similar tracking data over time can cause boredom in employees, thus reducing engagement and demotivating them.
Along with these major issues, employees also face hassles like device syncing issues with the wellness program platform, low battery life, uncomfortable to wear, not water-resistant, and more. These are a few reasons why many people stop using them in a few months.
So like most technology aspects, even the wearable device concept for employee wellness programs comes with its set of pros and cons.
The key to making it a positive part of the employee wellness programs is by encouraging the workforce to use the fitness devices in the right way, voluntarily. Conducting a pulse survey or poll would be a better idea to know employee interests and ideas about a wellness program platform compatible with fitness devices. As much as motivating employees to take care of their health and wellbeing by the employee wellness programs is important, it is also vital to consider employee needs and interests to ensure its success.