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Wellness wearables: 5 employer strategies for incorporating fitness trackers into the workplace


Wearable StatBy Karen Viveiros, Communications Manager, Ceridian LifeWorks

My first pedometer came as a promotional give-away from the inside of a cereal box in the 1990s. And although fitness trackers have come a long way since that crude iteration, the concept behind them hasn’t changed. And they work.

Basic stepcounters, modern smartphone apps and trackers, and even sophisticated wellness clothing that measures key health indicators are all rooted in the same foundational concept. Trackers enlighten us by increasing our awareness of output and impact. According to Gartner, 68 million fitness wearables are in use in the U.S. That’s because seeing results — positive or negative — can boost our intrinsic motivation and light a competitive fire (even against our personal past performance).

The result: Trackers push us to do more, to want to do more, to work harder, and to improve. In fact, according to the CDC, fitness challenge participants who use a wearable are 27% more active than those who don’t! If your organization is thinking about incorporating fitness wearables into your wellness program, here are 5 “dos” to consider, courtesy of a recent webcast hosted by LifeWorks and Cerner Wellness:

  1. Consult with your legal team. Ensure that your collection of private health information from the trackers is in line with applicable legislation (HIPAA) and employment standards such as the ADA. It cannot flow into personnel systems at risk that it may shape perceptions of workplace performance, or influence decisions regarding employment. And, when planning initiatives and incentives, you need to think about alternatives for employees who cannot participate due to disability.
  2. Offer discount or reimbursement programs to lower the cost of trackers. According to HERO Health, 83% of employers offer subsidies.
  3. Gain leadership support.Ideally, executives who “walk the talk”
  4. Integrate wearables into your wellness program. Design initiatives and programs to leverage these tools.
  5. Offer meaningful rewards.
  6. Promote, promote, promote!

 Get more tips in the wrap-up tweets from the webcast!

Meanwhile, DON’T expect wearables to be a silver bullet. Don’t set unrealistic goals for change or improvementsand lastly, refrain from making wearables mandatory. Introducing these devices can have a definite impact on workplace wellness, but fostering a culture of health comes first.

More than 68 million Americans are already using a fitness wearable, and ABI Research predicts that more than 13 million devices will be part of employer wellness programs by 2018. Is your organization thinking about “wearing its wellness,” and if not, why not?

karen vKaren Viveiros is an Accredited Business Communicator (IABC) with a Bachelor’s degree (Adv.) in Psychology/Sociology and a diploma in Communications. She is trained in Mental Health First Aid, and an avid reader of general wellness and mental health-related research articles and reports. Karen has been an employee of Ceridian for more than 12 years, most recently dedicated to supporting the communications needs of LifeWorks. Married to Chris and a mother of two, Karen volunteers as a soccer coach and within the school, loves to walk, and practices yoga. She talks openly about mental health issues, championing the importance of self-care, knowing our limits, and managing stress.

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