Can Technology Keep Employees Happy, Healthy and Engaged?

Finding what works best for your organization.

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When I visit the grocery store, movie theater or go out for a walk, it seems like every other person I encounter wears a fitness tracker. This isn’t too surprising since trackers do cool things like count your steps, measure your sleep and allow users to participate in activity challenges with friends.

Interestingly, corporations are taking a serious look at fitness trackers to see if it makes sense to incorporate for their respective wellness programs. Wearable devices are touted to drive employee participation and deliver meaningful wellness and business results.

However, experience shows that human behavior sometimes gets in the way. Behavioral studies demonstrate that it takes 30 days of focused effort to change and adopt a new behavior. In the work we’ve done at O.C. Tanner to build a wellness application for enterprise, we found that after 90 days, there is a steep drop off in wearable usage.

Working in the corporate wellbeing space as a vendor, I’m able to attend industry events and conduct research studies to better understand the marketplace. My goal is to help companies make informed decisions about wellness offerings that will deliver real value for their employees to adopt healthy behaviors and for organizations to build a culture of wellbeing.

Here are a few observations and insights I’ve gathered along the way to help companies trying to decide how to leverage technology in their wellness program:

1. 7 in 10 employees said they would wear employer-provide wearables in exchange for lower health insurance costs (PwC, 2014)

2. Less than 20 percent of companies utilize wearable devices in their respective wellness programs. (O.C. Tanner 2015 Health and Wellbeing Study).

3. Generally, corporate wellness programs show a 20% participation rate. (Gallup, May 2014)

4. The top three problems with a corporate wellness programs tend to be low employee participation (23%), the high cost (21%) and it’s hard to keep track of data (28%). (2015 Fitbit Group Health Survey of CEOs with 1k-10k employees)

5. Employees with excellent wellbeing produce more work (19%) and have greater job satisfaction (89%). They stay longer (2yrs), collaborate better (20%), and come up with more great ideas (28%). (O.C. Tanner 2015 Health and Wellbeing Study).

It’s also worth noting that companies who have made a commitment to employee wellbeing leverage several elements in their wellness program that goes beyond trackers. Stack ranked, the most utilized components in a wellness program include:

  1. Biometric screenings
  2. Incentives
  3. Events (health fairs, lunch & learns)
  4. Doctor consultation
  5. Gym
  6. Healthy food options
  7. Personal coaching
  8. Health risk assessment
  9. Challenges
  10. Activity groups

(O.C. Tanner 2016 Wellness Leader Study, with companies 500–10k employees).

While wearables didn’t crack the top ten, wellness leaders do rely on technology applications to help them plan, track, incentivize, manage and execute their programs. It comes down to finding an app that works best within your organization to meet your program requirements.

Affordable solutions are available that take a holistic approach to the personal wellbeing of employees — on physical, social and emotional levels. Here’s a great place to start.

Originally published at

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