Having a clearly laid out workplace wellness plan is one of the most effective means of having an engaged and productive team in any organization. In addition to an extended health benefits plan, workplace wellness can include health promotion activities or organization-wide policies implemented to encourage healthy behaviors among employees.
Ideally, the workplace should provide employees with opportunities for better long-term health, especially in the face of rising chronic diseases.
The greatest barriers to having a workforce completely engaged in a workplace health program include time constraints, employee engagement, privacy issues, and employees’ willingness to participate. But research shows that three out of five employees surveyed said they’d be inclined to participate in workplace wellness if employers used digital technology to do so (hardly a surprise considering the workforce is now made up of many tech savvy Millennials).
Wearables such as the Apple Watch can help to monitor stress levels and heart rates, or to implement fitness plans—so they can be a valuable tool in encouraging workplace health. Moreover, simply having access to apps on already existing smartphones can be effective as well.
Nine Ways Technology Is Improving Workplace Health
Let’s take a look at nine ways technology is improving workplace health.
1. Increased Productivity
12% of employees use wearables such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit, Jawbone, or Google Glass and 71% of those who use them said they saw an increase in productivity.
2. 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. Wearables such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, Google Glass, and others can provide employers with a vast amount of biometric data and help evaluate the return on investment—but only if employees consent to share this information.
3. Less Absenteeism
Using technology whether apps such as SparkPeople or wearables such as the Apple Watch, can help reduce employee absence due to health concerns, as well as increase work-life balance. 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.
4. Reduced Stress Levels
If bringing your dog to work to reduce employee stress levels isn’t an option, wearables such as Fitbit, that monitor activity levels, and apps like Pip can also help decrease employee stress levels through interactive games, leading to a more productive and healthy team. (Or you could do both!)
5. Supportive Company Culture
Tracking eating habits, dietary plans, and lifestyle choices using apps such as Up® on Jawbone for your whole team can create a stronger workplace culture, encourage supportive relationships, and boost team morale.
6. Cognitive Agility
It’s not all about physical fitness—wellness means mental fitness as well. Researchers found that playing a video game for an hour a day, may also lead to increased cognitive abilities.
7. More Motivation
Using fitness wearables, such as Fitbit or Jawbone, can increase employees’ willingness to lead a healthier lifestyle. By following workout routines on apps such as Skimble Workout Trainer employees can see better overall improvements to health and lower risks of chronic diseases.
8. Increased Health Awareness
Using wearables can decrease the sedentary lifestyle that often pervades present day working generations. With features such the Activity app on the Apple Watch, employees can track their physical movements and set reminders to stand when sitting for long periods of time and help set fitness goals.
9. Business Savings
Encouraging workplace health and fitness through the use of technology can decrease employer healthcare costs, especially in the face of rising premiums.
Managing Expectations And Fostering Positive Team Results
There may be the perception that the use of technology to monitor workplace health may actually be an invasion of privacy, and lead to workplace monitoring rather than workplace wellness. If this technology and data is not misused, however, employers can manage expectations as well as foster positive results for their team.
The goal for any employer in implementing a workplace health and wellness plan should be to shift the mindset from acute care to preventative care. If employers can have a team focused on workplace health and take preventative measures to limit chronic diseases and sedentary lifestyles, inevitably this is a win for both the employees and the employers. Encouraging employees to participate in physical activity can help lower their stress levels, while tracking sleep can ultimately lead to a more productive and effective team.