Thinking of Adding Wearables Tech to your Company’s Wellness Program?

I’ve always considered myself an HR person first but man I LOVE tech and gadgets (good thing I’m a HR technologist). I get really excited about some of the wearables that are now available. I use (or have used) many of what is currently out there — but I saw something that got me really excited! Ralph Lauren is going to introduce a wearable technology shirt at this year’s US Open, meaning in 2014. The shirt will monitor, “…your heart rate, breathing and stress levels, collecting data that is displayed on a dashboard, phone app or computer screen — all that without compromising its racy good looks.” This geek and aspiring fit-nut loves this trend — and (you know the words that are going to follow) it got me thinking: what impact could wearables *really* have on a wellness program?

Wearable Tech & Workplace Trends

Wearable tech have been on IHRIM’s (International Association for Human Resource Information Management) list of HR trends for the last couple of years, but despite the hype and the drive in the consumer space, I’m not sure that I’m seeing wide trends of companies moving the way of trying to integrate wearables into their corporate healthy and wellness programs.

My thought — its a A LOT of personal information. My sense is that this is one of the struggles that companies are having — how to meaningfully connect wearables to their program and how to encourage usage, but then also protect the data/information (side note — you totally want to partner with a 3rd party on this if you decide to make the leap). One of the advantages to wearables and wearable tech is that it helps put your health and wellness progress and goals front and center, keeping them top of mind for the wearer.

Introduce Wearables to Your Workplace Health & Wellness Program

The spirit of health and wellness programs is to make it all about the overall wellness and health of the employee– not about your specific program. So if you think that this is right for your employees (and it may not yet be right for your employees yet)– I have a few ideas on ways that you can introduce wearables to your employees and instead of making part of a your formal program:

  1. Make them more affordable. Offer a discount or coupon on a device. A lot of this tech is expensive, so what may be prohibiting people from giving it a try is not a lack of interest, but the cost. Consider offering to covered dependents as well.
  2. Give ‘em away. Are you still giving out iPads or tablets as prizes or incentives — how about offering a wearable device instead?
  3. Try before you buy. Consider having a “lease” or “borrow” program where people can try them out to see if they are for them and if they help with their personal fitness and health goals. After trying a device for a short while, they may find that its worth the money to buy their own device or realize that maybe its not for them and doesn’t help them with their goals.
  4. Give ‘em resources to help make heads or tails of what is out there. There are a lot of options out there for people to choose from and its hard to understand what device or app does what and how it could benefit them. Help educate people on the technology and options — and give folks options and information on to keep it old school if they decide that the device is not for them. You want to be unbiased.

Wearables are just one way to wellness — what do you think of pairing wearables and corporate wellness programs?

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Andrea Devers

Andrea is an HR technologist and change management expert. She’s has built her career in global HR Compliance, HR process improvement, and shared services across all functions of HR. Connect with Andrea.


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