Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance

It’s More than Just Tracking—Wearables and Wellness

by Danna Korn
In yesterday’s Advisor, wellness expert Danna Korn stressed the importance of data accuracy with wearable technology in your wellness program. Today, more from Korn on how wearables can be put to good use in your workplace.

Korn is cofounder and CEO (Chief Energizing Officer) of Sonic Boom Wellness, a software company specializing in fun, innovative corporate wellness programs that improve employees’ daily health habits.
Make It About More than Activity Tracking
Teach that pony a few more tricks! Activity tracking is great, but a solid “back end” to the program keeps people engaged in other ways (and on an ongoing basis). Too many corporate wellness programs focus only on physical activity or are too easy to go in, check off a few activities, collect incentives, and quit the program.
That’s not going to improve daily health habits. Be sure to invest in optimal nutrition, stress management, financial health, and other wellness initiatives as a supplement to physical activity challenges.
Cooperation, instead of competition, is a great way to enhance engagement and pull those sideline sitters off the sidelines. Support charitable causes with wellness promotions by spending prize money on philanthropic donations. Many people are motivated by causes bigger than themselves and will often engage more vigorously when the reward is a feel-good donation to a meaningful charity.
Choose at least one contest per year to tie to a charitable donation and watch as employees—even those who rarely participate—become excited to join in on an effort that benefits others!
Real Reporting
Self-reported data stinks. Companies often expect people to self-report their activity to earn credit, even if they’re already using sophisticated activity trackers that automatically record and sync data through slick mobile apps. The whole reason wearable wellness has gained so much traction is because of the technology’s automation, which makes it virtually effortless for people to use.
Why make it more difficult for employees to participate? Getting (and keeping) employees engaged is already the hardest part of creating a successful wellness program. Avoid the possibility of disengagement, data-recording errors, or even dishonesty (dare we say, “cheating”?). Go for automated validation every time.
Once people’s data have been automated to reach the wellness portal, pull the stats onto live leaderboards. Let’s be honest—everyone appreciates a little recognition for a job well done. And activity competitions at work are no exception.
Seeing progress (and contest standings) in real time just makes everything more exciting—especially to someone who’s winning or improving. And, while live leaderboards allow for some serious stat stalking, some people want to keep their results to themselves. Allowing employees to compete anonymously lets the ones who aren’t in great shape (or who think Big Brother is watching) compete comfortably incognito.
Adding wearable activity trackers will undoubtedly inject excitement into any worksite wellness program. But maintaining that excitement is the hardest (and the most essential) part. It’s important to remember that getting employees to record their activity is only half the battle—how the data are used and how they affect employees’ long-term habits are what count in the long run.
Focus on reaching as many employees as possible, and create a program that encourages long-term use of activity trackers through short-and-sustainable social contests. Employees will join with excitement and keep coming back for more.

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