Wearable Technology for Improved Organizational Performance
The modern workplace and culture has undergone a sweeping transformation in the last few years. One area that sees continued growth and change revolves around the corporate wellness space. Mental and physical components have gained prominence over the usual components. The new age corporate wellness programs are becoming more holistic, treating an employee's mind and body. With fitness trackers becoming more popular among “health conscious” individuals, companies have shifted their attention to wearable technologies at workplace. The idea of a device tracking ones steps, heart rate, and various other bio markers isn't new per se. What's new is the level of sophistication and the steady growth of them inside the workplace. With technology continually getting better, companies can use this golden opportunity to utilize this tool to further develop and enrich their wellness initiatives. There is no denying the popularity of wearable technology. In India alone, the wearable market is bound to see a dramatic increase in usage from 56 million users in 2017 to 65 million users in 2023 (Statista, 2019), which clearly means that a wearable technology is more than just a fashion statement for the users.
Role of Wearable Technology in the Workplace:
The availability and relevance of health-related technology is rapidly evolving. These technology offer unlimited potential to minimize and/or mitigate barriers associated with achieving optimal health, performance, and readiness (Teyhen et al, 2014). Wearable technologies help company leaders navigate their employees’ physical and perceptual capabilities, amplify their physical strength, facilitate virtual interactions, and alerting for hazards. All of this has the potential to significantly boost productivity and safety. If anything, technology has made workers more valuable by enhancing their physical and perceptual abilities. This new generation of wearable technology (fitness trackers/bands, smart glasses, smart watches, smart clothing, and other wearable devices) is giving workforce more strength, endurance, vision, hearing, and awareness. They are enhancing their effectiveness and productivity and are helping in keeping people safe. They also help them overcome physical limitations and give an opportunity to the management to make new ways to plan for the future workforce.
The impact of technology on work has seen both the sides. While some have eliminated jobs and displaced people; others have made employees more productive. The primary objective of any wearable technology is to make employees more productive and more capable at workplace. The increased use clearly states that wearable have a significant impact on the workforce and the companies that employ them (Meerkerk, 2017). Employers are increasingly seeing the value that a wearable technology can provide to employees and to the organization.
Benefits of Using a Wearable Technology at Workplace – Employer’s Perspective
There are a number of benefits for employers who promote wearable technology and create a “fitness ecosystem” in the workplace. Some of the top benefits are:
♦ It helps them create a workplace culture focused on health and well-being♦ Brings in an improved lifestyle disorder management system at workplace♦ Incentive healthy habits to encourage healthy behavior at work♦ Improved health care cost savings
When employers commit to workplace wellness initiatives, putting health and wellness of employees first, they create a workplace culture of care, productivity and engagement. One must acknowledge that the workplace wellness wearable technology programs can provide employers with enormous data about their employees and the workplace which can be put to best use. Employees are usually willing to use technology to better themselves, their lifestyle and their health. Implementing wearable technology into the workplace not only can create a positive environment for the entire workplace, but it can help improve safety, lower healthcare costs, and monitor health and wellness. On the other hand, given the large number of data collected, employers must address the concerns the employees have about fitness tracking and privacy. Generally, employees worry if it could lead to discriminating them and impact their boss’s perception of them because of their lifestyle choices. To understand if wearable technology based wellness initiative is worth the effort, it is important to understand the underlying motive behind the implementation. But for most organizations, the benefits of providing fitness devices far outweigh the costs. Apart from the increase in productivity, employers also report many indirect benefits, such as increased morale and reduced absenteeism. The social element of a wearable based wellness initiative helps people to stay motivated and creates a culture of support for all employees. This increases engagement and helps employee become more productive. When employers invest in the health, it is a win-win. Technology will continue to play an important role in overall employee health for years to come. Workplace-based wellness programs coupled with personal technology can lead to significant cost savings for both employers and employees while also helping to create a more engaged and healthier workforce.
♦ PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2016). The wearable life 2.0: Connected living in a wearable world. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/consumerintelligence-series/wearables.html♦ Teyhen, D. S., Aldag, M., Centola, D., Edinborough, E., Ghannadian, J. D., Haught, A., Parramore, D. J. (2014). Incentives to Create and Sustain Healthy Behaviors: Technology Solutions and Research Needs. Military Medicine, 179(12), 1419-1431.♦ Wearable Technology Can Increase Productivity, Study Finds. (2017, September 30). Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://meerkerkonline.com/wearable-technology-can-increase-productivity-study-finds/♦ Wearables - India | Statista Market Forecast. (2019). Retrieved April 30, 2019, from https://www.statista.com/outlook/319/119/wearables/india