Can fitness trackers benefit business?

We all know that happy, healthy staff are good for business. They are more motivated, take fewer sick days and are generally more productive. So how can you get your employees to buy into a wellness program that ‘encourages’ them to move more and sit less? Maybe fitness trackers are the answer.


Fitness tracker benefits

As well as the obvious benefit of tracking employee wellness, even basic trackers are offering efficiencies to business. For example, warehouse staff that do too much walking can highlight organisational improvements. Amazon are currently using wearables to assess the routes for finding products using GPS tags.

BP has bought into fitness trackers in a big way. The company distributed 24,500 of them globally to employees and spouses as part of a wellness programme. Enrolment was optional but offered discounts and incentives to those who use the trackers and who make improvements as a result. As of July 2015, BP employees walked over a million tracked miles as part of their wellness programme.

While businesses can incentivise employees to move more, these initiatives often take on a life of their own. Informal competitions soon arise to see who walks the furthest, loses the most weight or burns the most calories. Ikea and Autodesk, two companies who gifted fitness trackers to employees, both said such informal competitions quickly arose and added an incentive to employees to become more active regardless of any official rewards.

The practicalities

As with any introduction of new technologies, there are costs involved. The wearables themselves vary hugely in price costing as little as £20 to more than £300 each. Some manufacturers offer significant discounts for larger orders and a few health insurance companies are beginning to offer incentives for their use.

You will then need a support platform to collect and collate that data to make available to HR and the users themselves. Many vendors such as FitBit offer their platform,SaaS, with a monthly fee. So up front cost is minimal. Training is also provided by the company as part of the service.

It isn’t just FitBit that are encouraging businesses to adopt fitness trackers, Jawbone is another. Jawbone’s UP system is another platform that enables companies and employees to track fitness data and motivate individuals and teams to move more. Other fitness tracker manufacturers also run corporate programs that can help manage wearables and the data they generate.

Some companies in the UK that are using fitness trackers are using the BYOD model to lower costs even more. Paying back by offering an incentive scheme for improvements in fitness and activity. It is estimated that around 70% of large organisations in the U.S. have some kind of wellness program. We expect UK enterprises will soon follow suit.

With upfront costs reducing, cloud management platforms offering fast, easy management and a range of ROI from the purely financial to the wider ranging, fitness trackers seem to make great sense for British businesses.

By Jamie Kavanagh

Writing for Broadband Genie. A former IT and telecommunications engineer usually found reading, writing or riding, and usually in that order.