Technological advances are here to stay. And so whether you like it or not, as an employer, you have to consider the role it plays in your employee wellness program. Furthermore, you have to think about how these new technologies affects employee participation in wellness programs.
Employers who are able to increase employee participation in wellness programs see less absenteeism, increased productivity and in general, employees who are excited to work.
In this post, we will discuss various technological advancements that affect (or will eventually affect) how you run your employee wellness program and how to maximize them.
How Technology Affects Your Employee Wellness Program
There are now a myriad of watches and wearable fitness devices that allow employees to track their fitness. While the use of wearables is still very early on and thus there haven’t been a lot of studies looking at its’ benefits over the long-term, there are huge health benefits to employees who routinely use wearable fitness devices.
How can you incorporate the use of wearable technology into your wellness program?
- You can offer a financial incentive to employees who buy a wearable fitness device.
- Your company can issue the devices to employees for free-perhaps as a welcome package when people first join.
- You can implement a company-wide tracking system that allows employees to compete in a fun and engaging way.
It seems hard to believe, but just 15 years ago, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter did not exist. And yet, in this decade and a half, most people can hardly imagine a world without social media. Facebook boasts an estimated 2.32 billion users. This means about 2 in every 7 people on the planet uses Facebook. This is powerful. Thus, social media cannot be ignored as a tool in your employee wellness box.
Here are a few ways you can use social media in your wellness program:
- Create a closed or private Facebook Group that allows employees to pitch their own ideas for fun fitness activities
- Celebrate employee wins within Facebook Groups or company Facebook Page (with permission, of course)
- Use social media messaging apps to keep everyone in the loop about fitness activities in and around work
- Have employees share recipes and workouts that are working for them within the Facebook Group.
- Using the power of video which is now available on every social media network, have employees take turns in leading the fitness/wellness charge.
Your company can use gamification to increase the chances of employee participation. As hinted at in the points above, gamification works very well with wearable technology and social media. Host contests that allow employees to win rewards such as extra PTO, gift cards or some other substantial gift. You can decide that these types of prizes will go to the person with the most steps walked in a month or the person who was the most consistent. It is really up to you. However, never forget that incentives are powerful. In a survey that polled over 10,000 employees, 61% said that an incentive was what got them to participate in an employee wellness program.
No matter how big or small your company is, chances are your employees are generating large amounts of data points within your wellness program. This data is golden when it is analyzed using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Companies can in turn use this data to look at trends of chronic illnesses, mental health problems and even the financial cost of implementing (or not implementing) an employee wellness program that encourages participation. Although we are just starting to harness the power of AI in healthcare and employee wellness, it is important that you don’t ignore it as an employer.
Another powerful advancement in healthcare is personalized medicine. We are currently in an era where treatments and drugs are being designed to suit a person’s (or a group’s shared) genetic makeup. Personalized medicine will also harness the power of individual health assessments and look for a course of action for your employees that is specific to them. While this sounds expensive upfront, it will save your company a lot of healthcare-associated costs over the long-term.
Facing Privacy Issues
The biggest challenge that is immediately obvious when it comes to using technology in an employee wellness program is privacy. The US and EU governments in recent times have cracked down on large corporations and how the information they collect from users is utilized. This has caused more people to become wary when it comes to putting their information “out there”. Thus, it is important that before your company uses any technology at all, all the details are disclosed.
Nobody should be coerced into using a technology they are not comfortable with. In fact, forcing people can discourage them from getting involved. Technological advances in healthcare are now a permanent part of our lives. It’s time to incorporate all of its’ aspects into your employee wellness program.