How Technology Can Help Drive Workplace Wellness

workplace wellnessAs many know, a corporate wellness program does not guarantee employee participation. This is especially true if the initiative follows a one-size fits all model, as employees are more apt to shy away from wellness programs that don’t address their specific health concerns. According to Guidespark, which helps human resources better communicate with workers, 63 percent of employees said they would participate more if wellness programs “were better suited to their lifestyle.”

So what is an effective way to entice your staff to take full advantage of your nascent wellness program? One answer: Technology. Technology alone is not enough, of course. But via wearable or digital health devices or apps, technology can provide data that can assist employees in tracking their health, such as monitoring heart rates, body temperature or sleep patterns.

Certainly the prevalence of cell phones and other mobile devices in mainstream American society bears this out. Pew Research Center found that as of 2015, 68 percent of Americans owned smartphones while 45 percent have tablets. Also, among certain groups, the usage is almost universal with the same study contending that “86 of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone, as do 83 percent of those ages 30-49 and 87 percent of those living in households earning $75,000 and up annually.”

In an article on how big data can jumpstart corporate wellness programs, Angela McIntyre, research director at tech consulting firm Gartner, told Forbes two years ago that “about 2,000 employers provided fitness bands, health apps, and data portals as an option in their corporate wellness programs” the previous year.

Further, some of the companies that were quick to adopt technology in their corporate wellness programs “reported that their employees lost weight or lowered their blood pressure within six months.”

A recent study conducted by ShapeUp revealed that technology has greatly enhanced and expanded corporate wellness programs.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • “94 percent of employers using technology for employee wellness believe it has been instrumental in improving employee perceptions of their wellness program;” and
  • “90 percent confirm that technology has had a positive impact on employee engagement in wellness programs.”

Of course, to gain greatest effectiveness, technology benefits must be paired with professionals who know how to gain best advantage from the tools. Said Cathy Kenworthy, Interactive Health President & CEO, in the Future of Business & Tech: “Technology does a fantastic job of opening up new engagement opportunities, particularly in the context of well-designed preventive care programs. Using technology, we can design solutions that are very effective at tapping into key segments of a given population to truly understand health risk in specific and credible ways. More importantly, we can take action based on this information more quickly than in the past, engaging individuals sooner to create improved outcomes.”

“The hard work of great wellness programs is hands-on and driven by experts with a passion to help people adopt small changes that lead to giant behavior change. For the best wellness professionals, technology is yet another tool that makes them even better at changing health outcomes for individuals who need it most. Those experts have great know-how to leverage the newest technologies in endlessly creative ways, especially with those that need to make the greatest changes in nutrition, activity and use of tobacco products.”

Indeed, Talent Culture recently offered “9 Ways Technology Can Increase Workplace Health And Wellness.” Among the benefits noted:

  • Increased Productivity
  • Valuable Data: “Data gathered from wearables can help an organization make a business case for a wellness program, or fine tune one already in place.”
  • Less Absenteeism: “Monitoring and evaluating real time data of employee’s physical activity, sleep patterns, and stress levels can help employers evaluate the drivers of health risks to their employees, and potentially prevent long-term disability leaves.”
  • Reduced Stress Levels
  • Supportive Company Culture
  • More Motivation
  • Increased Health Awareness