Expanding reach and effectiveness with digital tools and data
Of all the things that wearable devices and mobile health applications can accomplish, nowhere are they more useful than in the context of employee wellness programs.
Employers have always sought ways to increase participation in their wellness programs. Creating programs that resonate with employees at various levels of health and with a variety of motivations and privacy concerns are enduring challenges for employers.
Technology is changing the equation. Mobile apps, wearable devices, social media platforms, and data analytics have the power to make employee wellness programs easier, more personalized, more fun, and more effective.
Mobile engagement breaks down barriers and enhances motivation
The 21st Century workforce is decreasingly a stationary 9-to-5 population available for lunch-and-learns and accessing the company gym. There is a growing remote element of the workforce in many industries – people who work from co-working spaces, from home, and on the road.
Mobile apps integrated with wearable health monitors allow employee wellness programs to reach employees regardless of their work day arrangement. They make it easy for employees to personalize their goals, track their progress, and receive alerts when goals are met and rewards are earned. That increases motivation.
Social elements, such as a Facebook group dedicated to the program, can increase engagement and camaraderie among participants and allow participants to stay engaged in the program via their phones throughout the work day, and after hours.
Cloud-based platforms integrate mobile and wearable data associated with the program into a central digital hub that all participants can access. This provides transparency on rules, rewards, and results.
When contests are transparent and universally accessible, the credibility of the program is enhanced in employees’ eyes.
Data informs design
Technology provides actionable data for participants as well as the companies organizing wellness programs.
Gallup research published in 2014 pegged the participation rate for employee wellness programs at 24 percent. As organizations learn how to use the data that is coming from the technology deployed in their wellness programs, participation rates are poised for growth.
The data allows organizations to pinpoint which elements of their program are popular and how employees are responding to program challenges. This intelligence allows managers to build on the successful elements of the program and either drop unpopular aspects, or improve the rewards associated with them to spur participation.
The data also gives organizations a clearer picture of their employee population. What is the population’s health profile? What are the common ailments and challenges? What incentives resonate?
Managers can use this snapshot of their employee group to design wellness programs that better meet their employees’ needs and ultimately increase employee health along with the company’s return on their investment in the program.
Technology is a game-changer for employee wellness programs. Corporations will continue to find creative ways to deploy mobile and wearable tech and use the data generated to improve their programs.
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