Research: How to Track Health, Wellness and Workplace Productivity

distracted-walkingGigaom Research publishes a new report on what it calls “tracking health, wellness, and productivity in the quantified workplace.”

The piece begins by documenting the ways in which health-related issues can reduce employee productivity.

Says the report: “The toll of chronic diseases on workplace productivity is high, with seven major diseases accounting for a substantial amount of “presenteeism” — that is, workers performing less due to the effects of sickness and absenteeism. Depression alone accounts for nearly one third of productivity losses. And one study demonstrated that productivity losses due to chronic diseases amount to over $84 billion annually.”

Indeed, in the Gallup study noted, “The annual cost to the U.S. in lost productivity due to absenteeism tied to poor health ranges from $160 million among agricultural workers to $24.2 billion among professionals. The total yearly bill across 14 job types for lost productivity due to workers being above normal weight or having a history of chronic conditions is $84 billion.”

The new research investigates ways that “wearable computing, tracking, social-network analysis, and data analytics” can potentially work with an understanding of “the underlying social dynamics of any given firm that may also contribute to less stress and better health.” Among the research findings:

  • “While the U.S. Affordable Care Act creates incentives for employers to offer rewards to employees who practice healthy lifestyles, that driver is counterbalanced by inhibitors, including employee privacy concerns, minimal proof of ROI, and a backlash against badly designed behavioral incentives like gamification.”
  • “Employers are finding that wellness plans can suffer from lack of employee engagement, participation, and adherence,” and employers should evaluate programs’ results.
  • “Tracking data on ‘people dynamics’ will be a critical addition to employee wellness and productivity. The combination of monitoring internal work networks complements wellness programs to deliver an effective quantified workplace.”