- By Chris
- Posted February 16, 2017
Wearables At Work – Integrating Digital Health into Your Corporate Wellness Program
Wearable digital health devices have broken down a tremendous number of mental barriers, helping people shift towards a healthier lifestyle. Your organization can leverage the intersection of your employees’ healthy desires and personal technology in the work place to improve employee health and engagement for the long term.
If you’re intrigued by the thought of a digital health program that is well rounded, broadly supported, and flexibly reaches out to your employees beyond the work day, read on. We’ll tackle some of the questions you may have about designing, implementing, and administering a wearable wellness program that is cost sensitive, robust, and long-lived.
Conscious Health Decisions in the Digital Era
Digital health devices represent a tremendous shift in how we think about health and wellness, and incorporate it into our connected lives. These devices add more than “just another screen” into our day. A wearable adds a window into improving our lives.
This seamlessly gives us assistance in making health choices at any time of the day. Subtle reminders of progress can influence decision making without being intrusive.
- Did you meet your sleep goal and sleep well? Use the increase in energy and productivity to tackle new challenges or bigger efforts.
- Need a nudge at lunch time to get you to your daily steps in? Take a quick walk after a snack to stretch your legs.
- What’s your weekly workout target? A glance at your wrist on your evening commute can remind you to hit the gym again or go for a run.
All day, every day, we use our wearables as opportunity to make incremental changes that build into permanent, healthy lifestyle changes. A robust corporate wearable wellness program can leverage the data from these devices to drive and reinforce positive milestones, compliantly, as a cornerstone of your corporate health strategy.
Stepping Beyond the Pedometer
There's more to a fit lifestyle than counting steps - the days of the original “step counter” pedometers are gone.
Today’s devices are smarter, hardier, more flexible, and seamlessly connected with our digital world. The tremendous adoption rate of wearables has led to an explosion of device options that are both functional and fashionable. Wearables aren’t just another craze – they’re here to stay.
Packed with clusters of sophisticated sensors, these attractive, unobtrusive accessories count everything from sleep and exercise to heart rate, with some supporting more advanced training regimes. Paired with a mobile app, you get feedback beyond wrist-mounted cues. At a glance, you can easily make a healthy decision, customized to your goals and ability .
Wearable Corporate Wellness
How do you fit these devices into a compliant corporate wellness strategy?
Start strong by finding a provider who understands the broad ecosystem of devices and manufacturers. Your provider should clearly explain what devices are available, what is tracked, and how the sensor data will lead to more informed corporate health decisions. A provider should work with you to find devices that both fit your budget and appeal to employees to ensure long term participation.
Digital health wearables track a wide variety of measurable activities and return a significant flood of sometimes disparate data. By finding and combining several consistent data points, a well-integrated wellness program can track, measure, and use these key metrics across a wide ecosystem of device brands.
Activity tracking, such as step counting, is available on all connected wearables. It is a broad indicator of overall company and employee health, and can be used as a springboard into tracking a larger health push. Even the most reluctant participant can be eased into moving using incrementally increasing goals that are appropriately rewarded.
A well-rested employee is an impactful employee. Fewer mistakes are made, employees are less prone to illness, and this can all add up to higher productivity. Sleep tracking, if incorporated into your wellness program, is a key element for providing a positive goal-based feedback loop to your employees. One thing to keep in mind: many, but not all, devices are optimized to track sleep. Work with your provider to determine if tracking sleep can be included in your corporate wellness program.
Resting and active heartrates are a key measurable found on mid-range wearables and smart watches. Improvements in this metric area can quickly highlight how moving more, eating better, and resting well all contribute to improved cardiovascular health.
Keeping an Eye on Costs
As you work out your cost management equation, there are a number of approaches you can take. When planning initial rollout, how much of the device cost do you want to subsidize for the employee? Should you pay for a device or devices completely, or request an employee co-pay?
A wide range of wearable and cost options allows you to aim for that sweet spot by encouraging participation and reaching each employee at their comfort level.
Free Low-End Device – (Large Scale Adoption) Encourage significant employee adoption by providing entry-level devices free of charge to employees. Employees can jump in and experiment, get a feel for the program, and work towards a healthier lifestyle easily.
Partial Co-Pay – (Mid-Range Devices) Mid-range devices give you the opportunity to balance costs between you and your employees. A one-time, comfortably small co-pay via payroll deduction encourages employees curious about wearables who may not be ready to purchase a more feature-packed unsubsidized device. In the end, employees who make a reasonable contribution towards their preferred wearable device are more likely to be longer term participants.
Tiered Payment Plans (High-End Devices) Employees may prefer a premium device such as a sophisticated smart watch, or other high-end digital health device. While these carry a much higher cost per device, offering payment plans or other payment options can open up this tier to a much larger audience.
- Straight Co-Pay via Payroll Deduction - Break the full or partially subsidized device cost out to the employee over a year, using quarterly payments.
- Pay by Target Add-On - Optionally use this alongside the tiered payment program, by designing health and activity targets that reward the employee. Each time a goal is met, a payment is forgiven.
Bring Your Own Device - Chances are, a number of your employees already have a digital health tracker. Loop them into your wellness program with their existing wearable regardless of brand. Encourage them to “step up their game” with new challenges and rewards for participation in your corporate wellness program.
Healthy Living for the Long Haul
Another aspect of your cost management equation should be focused on encouraging long-term engagement, continued participation, and reducing device abandonment. A flexible wellness program breaks down these barriers by providing an ever-changing offering of challenges and rewards that fit your employees’ participation preferences.
Give employees a chance to participate in social group activities with their peers - compete “head to head” with co-workers, regardless of location, for a more personal touch. For those who want the benefits of a wellness program without the social competition aspect, try private reward systems.
Gamify users’ experiences by creating incremental personal goals. Tweak up their earnings potential as they break their own records and set new baseline active hours.
Leave some room to encourage those who have lagged behind. Participation dropping? Use varied engagement strategies to spur renewed interest. Plan a series of jump-start rewards appropriate to your company’s busy time, or as a ramp up to a corporate health day.
An attractive, intuitive experience that provides useful feedback, coupled with a variety of motivators that include active and passive goals and rewards, will bring your employees back for more, year in and out.
A well-designed corporate wearable program allows you to analyze your overall engagement data and customize the options that best fit your employees and your annual wellness budget.
Flexible Family Health
Your company health plan generally covers families and dependents – why not include them in your wellness program as well? After all, a healthy day isn’t confined to work hours.
Adding family members to your corporate wearables program can boost participation by layering in the family as another encouraging support pillar influencing health decisions on the path to a healthier lifestyle. The more the merrier!
Implementing and Supporting Your Wearables Program
Once you’ve decided to invest in wearables as part of your corporate wellness program, it’s time to fit the logistics of a wearable device rollout to your company.
A health and wellness partner that understands the operational complexities of getting devices to your employees quickly and smoothly is key. Good planning provides not only an exciting and engaging launch, but keeps it rolling efficiently down the road.
Initial Device Distribution
How is your company physically structured? A few main locations? Spread around the region or the world?
If your company is concentrated at one or two key locations, you can opt for an on-premise delivery strategy — A high-value engagement event combining social interaction and peer encouragement as everyone tries on and sets up new devices at the same time. Employees on the fence about signing up can see the excitement and change their mind, instantly, to join in on the fun.
Alternatively, a low-key, hassle-free, drop ship approach may work better for your team if support staff is limited. This type of launch has lower overhead on your organization, and eliminates the logistical challenges of your involvement during the initial device distribution.
Launch Day +1
Do you have the staff to support wearables beyond their initial delivery, or is it better handled by a wellness provider?
The strap broke. My device won’t charge. I want to upgrade to a snazzier device.
Human Resources may have their hands full, and employees don’t want to chase around trying to figure out how to make their change or exchange. Support should not be limited to initial distribution of the devices, but available for continued care. Making exchanges easy and frustration-free can keep the wheels of engagement turning.
Integrating Your Wellness Solution
There are wearables surrounding you right now, counting steps and tracking heart rates ... are you ready to incorporate them and more into your wellness program? We are. At Fitmatic we'll help you design, rollout, and support a robust wellness program and improve your corporate employees' health and your bottom line.