A fast growing sector
Research by business software firm Ipswitch last year revealed that more than three quarters of European businesses did not have a policy in place for managing the impact of wearable technology on the workplace.
But with the sector set to grow at an astonishing pace over the next five years – an incredible 245 million devices are expected to ship in 2019 – HR professionals should start to consider the potential impact on their workforce now.
Fitness-related devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike trackers are driving much of the sector’s growth, and an increasing number of employers are offering them to their employees.
In fact, estimates from ABI Research suggest more than 13 million wearable activity-tracking devices will be integrated into employee wellness programs by 2018. Fitbit is adding corporate customers to its roster at a rapid pace, signing up Barclays, GoDaddy.com and BMC Software just last month.
Some of Fitbit’s customers are selling the devices to staff at discounted rates, but others are buying in bulk to distribute to their employees directly. The advantages of providing fitness trackers to employees are clear; encouraging staff to measure their physical activity can play a role in helping them become more active.
Wearable technologies have been also found to boost employee productivity by 8.5 per cent, according to experts from Goldsmiths, University of London, and to increase job satisfaction by 3.5 per cent, according to research from Human Cloud At Work (HCAW).
Encouraged by these findings some major employers, including Tesco, BT, Amazon and a number of NHS trusts, are now asking staff to wear trackers.
Health insurance companies are also encouraging corporate policyholders to ask staff to wear them to reduce their premiums.