If you live in the US, there is a good chance your company might get you a discount on your fitness tracker. Employers are showing growing interest in wearables and many organizations are using them to make their employees healthier, decreasing the cost of health insurance.
According to the 8th annual survey on corporate health and well-being from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, more than half of companies are considering subsidies or discounts for fitness wearables. Of the 141 companies in this year’s survey, 30% will have a program in place this year and 23% are considering it.
This is, however, an emerging trend. Other wellness initiatives such as programs to stop smoking, improve physical activity and manage weight are still much more common. For example, 55% of companies offer a “sit-to-stand” ergonomic desk or treadmill workstation, an increase from 43% last year. Some 48% have policies regarding healthy food options in their cafeteria, vending machines and catering.
“As these programs evolve, employers are embracing a broader definition of well-being to increase participation and engagement among their workforce,” said Adam Stavisky, senior vice president, Fidelity Benefits Consulting.
“Today’s programs take more of a ‘health meets wealth’ approach and reflect a blend of financial, physical, and social/emotional programs to provide maximum support for members.”
Nevertheless, it is clear that more companies are offering employees popular activity trackers from providers such as Fitbit and Garmin. However, there has been little research in the effects of wearables on employee health and wellness, and concerns remain on whether such programs bring measurable benefits.
Privacy campaigners have also expressed worry on news that companies are fitting thousands of their staff with wearables that monitor movements and communication patterns, sometimes for 24 hours a day. A recent PWC research report shows that use of wearables in the workplace is hampered by lack of trust.
The data shows that only 46% of those surveyed say they would accept a free piece of wearable technology if their employers had access to the data recorded. The biggest barrier to adoption is data privacy and the lack of trust their employer would use the information to their benefit.
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