Trend Alert: Activity Trackers Increasingly Being Used in Employee Wellness Programs

by | Feb 29, 2016 | Uncategorized

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or

There’s a new trend in the employee wellness sector.

Employers are increasingly incorporating wearable activity trackers (think the Fitbit) into their employee wellness programs.

Why? Because their use can increase employee wellness, which… drum roll please… helps reduce medical claims.

So, yes, technology isn’t just for hoverboards and those self-lacing shoes from Back to the Future anymore. (But, seriously, where can we get a pair of those?)

Now, employers are using high-tech wearables to encourage employees to be more active. Some, for instance, host “Biggest Loser”-style competitions, and award the employee with the most steps a cool prize.

This is officially the 21st century, folks.

How do employers get the wearables? Good question. Some employers purchase the wearables for their employees; others offer incentives to encourage employees to purchase their own.

Springbuk®, which presents the national Healthiest Employer® Award, recently studied this new trend. They talked to more than 6,000 employers including 70% of the Fortune 100 companies, and the results showed an increasing interest in wearables by employers.

They also polled those employers about what they look for in wearable technology. We put their findings into an infographic for you. Check it out below:
Activity Tracker Wellness Programs

As you can see, it’s trendy – and the program can have a lot of benefits.

Employee engagement and camaraderie can be boosted, helping keep employees happier and with your company longer. Not to mention, it can help employees be healthier.

Both employers and employees have the potential to save money with lowered insurance premiums. Medical claims could also decrease.

But don’t get too excited just yet – It’s important to weigh your options before going out and buying activity trackers for all of your employees.

Price, ROI, potential employee participation rates and more are all things to consider before adding activity trackers to your employee wellness program.

Speaking of employee participation rates, as HR professionals, we must give a quick Public Service Announcement: Activity tracker wellness programs should be offered as an incentive, not a requirement in order to reduce exposure to potential legal issues due to privacy concerns. Remember: not all employees will feel motivated to participate.

If an employee’s data is being tracked and monitored by a company for wellness purposes, best practice is to make employees aware that they are being monitored.

Another caution for employers is data security, and being aware of potential privacy issues if employee’s personal data is hacked.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

As for choosing the right gadget for your company, there are a lot of options out there, ranging in price and features. (If you’re interested, Springbuk also studied different devices from an employer perspective and the Garmin Vivo Smart got the most points based on their criteria.)

Do your research. Some insurance companies offer activity tracker-inspired wellness programs. Fitbit offers group discounts on gadgets.

Ultimately, it depends on what you are looking for and what device will work best for your company’s needs.

Wellness programs are designed to make healthy living more fun for employees. The wearable tech trend could do just that. But Fitness-tracker-based employee wellness initiatives are still relatively young.

Keep an eye on the pulse to see what the future will bring for activity trackers in the workplace.

What do you think? Does your organization currently use wearables? If not, would you consider incorporating wearables into your company’s wellness program? Let us know in the comments.

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