Lovewell’s Logic: Should wearable technology be compulsory for all?

What’s your view of wearable technology? Are you a fan of these devices or do they seem a little too Big Brother-like for you?

Over the past few months, there has been much debate about the use of wearable technology in employers’ health and wellbeing strategies. (And, indeed, it is a topic we will discuss in-depth during next month’s Employee Benefits Live).  

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

However, earlier this week, I had a really interesting conversation which gave me a different perspective on the topic to ponder. In a nutshell, should employers make it compulsory for their workforce to wear and use a wearable device?

Admittedly, such a scenario would be set far into the future, but would such a strategy actually make sense? As it currently stands, the individuals most likely to engage with a wearable device are those who are actively engaged with their health and fitness, or those suffering from a chronic condition who have been advised to use one to help them manage this.

This means there is likely to be a large group who would find wearable devices and the behaviours they encourage to be beneficial, yet would not use one through choice.

With obesity rates on the rise, anything that encourages individuals to review their eating habits or to exercise more may also have a wider impact, particularly if it eases pressure on the NHS and reduces the occurrence of some obesity-linked diseases, such as diabetes.

While this group may not naturally gravitate towards wearable devices or initially be thrilled about engaging with them, the sense of competition wearable often generate may well appeal. Anecdotally, some organisations that have issued wearables to their staff have seen their competitive nature emerge as employees vie to rack up more steps or hours of exercise per day than their colleagues. When linked to colleagues’ devices and social media, tracking their progress against others’ can be a powerful incentive.

So, while on the face of it, making wearable devices a compulsory part of a health and wellbeing strategy might sound radical, would it actually making solid business sense in helping to drive up staff productivity and fitness levels, and reduce incidences of absence and healthcare benefits claims?

Right, I’ve just been ‘buzzed’ for being still for too long – time to move! 

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Employee Benefits