Bringing Wearables into the Business
The wearables market is on fire. In fact, worldwide spending on wearable technology is projected to reach $1.4 billion by 2016.
If you haven’t seen a wearable device yet, you’ve likely at least heard about one of the latest smart watches, fitness trackers, or hybrid devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 or the Sony SmartWatch 2 SW2.
At first glance, wearables may seem limited to simply being cool gadgets for consumers. But they can actually serve many valuable functions within Canadian businesses as well. Workplace wellness programs are exploding as companies realize their benefits, from a reduction in absenteeism, stress and depression, to improved employee morale and even cost savings. The Canadian government saw returns of $1.95-$3.75 for every dollar spent per employee on its corporate wellness programs.
So how do wearables fit into this mix? These typically wrist-worn devices can track an employee’s activity like steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned, serving as a sort of personal motivator toward better health practices, which in turn can lead to improved productivity. It’s no secret that a healthier worker is a more productive one; three times more productive, according to some estimates. Consider that unhealthy employees tend to take 9 more sick days than healthy ones, and healthy workers make 60% fewer mistakes.
From an overall company perspective, these devices can help make a wellness program more fun and interesting by:
Encouraging friendly competition. Everyone could aim to take the stairs for one full day instead of the elevator to up their step count, or do 20-minute power walks on their lunch hour for a week. And since data is logged in a smartphone app, management can get involved, too, and do things like offer prizes. Maybe the first person to reach a goal of 10,000 steps gets a coupon for the local coffee shop, or a half-day off.
Providing useful alerts. The office community is plagued with folks who fail to get up periodically to stretch and take a break. Some wearable devices can send alerts to remind the worker that they’ve been sitting too long, and it’s time walk around. This can help alleviate common problems like stress and back pain. Some devices can monitor data like blood pressure and heart rate, too, to ensure that workers don’t get over-stressed. Many even measure sleep patterns so employees can aim to get the optimum amount of sleep to perform at their best.
Boosting morale. More than three-quarters of employees in a recent survey said that health and wellness programs positively impact the culture at work. The friendly competitions that wearables can encourage have the side benefit of helping to build camaraderie and commonality among employees. And this can cross over to help improve levels of teamwork and collaboration.
Increasing productivity on-the-go. With devices that have smart watch functionality as well, and can receive message notifications from your smartphone (like the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Gear 2), there’s a secondary benefit. They make it easier for employees to stay on top of critical business while out and about. They can stealthily glance at an incoming message while in a meeting (it just looks like they’re checking the time) or see, hands-free, who’s calling.
The bottom line
Whether your employees are health-conscious or not, wearables can make it fun to participate in the office. And that can help reduce instances of work-related stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which are costly to the employee himself, as well as the company.
Have you tried a wearable device yet? How would you use them in your company?