This article was updated on August 14, 2018.
The growth of technology has given employers new ways to measure and impact employee wellbeing to help people live more healthy, meaningful lives. And more than 72 percent of employees surveyed felt positively about their organizations using technology to measure and impact employee wellness, according to the ADP Research Institute® study, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace.
For example, wearable technologies are an important driver in employers' ability to regularly impact the health and safety of their employers. Baker Hughes, an oilfield services organization based in Houston, is testing a smart helmet that can monitor workers' vitals in the oilfields and send a call for help if a man is down.
If you want to create a program for using technology to improve health, safety and wellness for your organization's employees, start by asking these questions:
1. What Problems Do We Want to Solve?
For many employers, improving employees' health and safety is important, but the bottom-line results are what leads to executive approval of such programs. According to the American Journal of Health Promotion, "obesity is associated with large employer costs from direct health care and insurance claims and indirect costs from lost productivity owing to workdays lost because of illness and disability." In addition, "normal weight employees cost on average $3,830 per year in covered medical, sick day, short-term disability, and workers' compensation claims combined; morbidly obese employees cost more than twice that amount, or $8,067." Before launching a program, figure out the problem you want to solve, whether it's saving a certain amount of money each year, improving safety outcomes or ensuring your employees are as healthy as possible.
2. How Can We Communicate Value to Employees?
While an employee wellness program that incorporates technology may result in financial savings to the organization's bottom line, that's unlikely to matter enough to employees to get them on board. Instead, you may need to find other ways to show that harnessing technology to improve health, safety and wellness is valuable for employees, too. For instance, gaming company Activision Blizzard uses a health benefits platform as a value-added employee benefit, their CEO told Inc.com. The number of pregnant employees who use the platform's pregnancy tracker has tripled compared to the organization's previous wellness program. Because the employees understand the value of delivering healthy babies, they are driven to adopt the tools.
3. How Can We Keep Employees Motivated?
You may already know your employees and what it takes to energize them. If not, survey them or conduct a focus group to figure out the best incentives or motivators to keep them on track with your technology-infused wellness program. Many organizations have found success with health challenges. For instance, BP America issued Fitbits to 23,000 employees and challenged them to take 2 million steps within 12 months, reports Fast Company. Those who reached their goals earned points toward becoming eligible for a lower-deductible health insurance plan.
When you spend time creating the wellness program that will best meet the needs of your organization and your employees, you'll not only help improve employee wellbeing, but you'll propel your organization into an increasingly productive future.