More than a quarter of Londoners own wearables provided by their employers

London businesses have jumped on the wearables bandwagon according to a study commissioned by PMI Health Group, part of Willis Towers Watson.

Some 26% of the capital’s employees are provided with fitness bands and smartwatches according to the report, well above the 9% British average. Furthermore, it was revealed that some 45% of UK workers would welcome the introduction of the technology by their employers.

Global shipments of wearables are expected to increase by nearly a third this year to a record 101.9 million units according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). Growth will continue in the years to come. IDC predicts that annual shipments will more than double by 2020 to 213.6 million units per year. This popularity provides businesses both in the UK and abroad with an opportunity to use the technology to collect valuable data on employee health.

PMI Health Group director Mike Blake said: “Wearables have become commonplace in recent years and their popularity provides employers with a golden opportunity to collect valuable data that can be used to improve health and wellbeing.

“It appears businesses in London have been quick to embrace this and we have already seen many examples of company-funded wearable schemes, where employees accept devices in the understanding that the data generated will be shared with their employers.

“Such initiatives can form part of wider health and wellbeing programmes, helping businesses to identify areas of risk and empower staff to take positive action.

“Not only could this enable a more proactive approach to absence management, tackling worrying trends before they become problematic, but it could also help to reduce claims and health insurance costs in the long term.”

The research also found that British workers are fairly open when it comes to sharing their personal health data. Over 60% of them would not object to it.

“Businesses will find it encouraging that only a minority of staff are opposed to sharing wearable data as part of wellbeing schemes,” said Mike.

“But even when objections are raised, such barriers can often be overcome through clear communication and consultation with employees.

“It is important for companies to outline what data will remain anonymous and underline that data will not be used in a discriminatory or unfair manner.

“In cases where data has been used to secure a reduction in insurance premiums, employees may also benefit from reduced contributions themselves, which will help to further smooth the process.”

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