British business could be set for a wearable revolution after research found 45 per cent of workers would welcome the introduction of the technology by their employers.
Wearable gadgets, such as fitness bands and smartwatches, have experienced a huge surge in popularity, with the global market expected to hit US$5.8 billion by 2018, a 800 per cent increase on its 2012 value.1 This popularity provides businesses with an opportunity to use the technology to collect valuable data on employee health.
The study commissioned by PMI Health Group, part of Willis Towers Watson, discovered almost one in 10 British employees (nine per cent) are already offered wearables by their employers, with the figure reaching 26 per cent in London.
“Wearables have become commonplace in recent years and their popularity provides employers with a golden opportunity to collect valuable data that can be used to improve health and wellbeing,” said Mike Blake, Director at PMI Health Group.
“Already, we have seen several examples of businesses operating company-funded wearable schemes, where employees accept devices in the understanding that the data generated will be shared with their employers.
“Such initiatives can form part of wider health and wellbeing programmes, helping businesses to identify areas of risk and empower staff to take positive action. Not only could this enable a more proactive approach to absence management, tackling worrying trends before they become problematic, but it could also help to reduce claims and health insurance costs in the long term.”
The research also found only 40 per cent of British workers would object to sharing personal health-related data generated by wearables with their employers.
“Businesses will find it encouraging that only a minority of staff are opposed to sharing wearable data as part of wellbeing schemes,” added Blake.
“But even when objections are raised, such barriers can often be overcome through clear communication and consultation with employees. It is important for companies to outline what data will remain anonymous and underline that data will not be used in a discriminatory or unfair manner. In cases where data has been used to secure a reduction in insurance premiums, employees may also benefit from reduced contributions themselves, which will help to further smooth the process.”
1 Wearable Technology Market – Global Scenario, Trends, Industry Analysis, Size, Share And Forecast 2012 – 2018, Transparency Market Research