Companies that implement employee wellness programs have discovered that healthy employees work harder and create fewer business costs than those employees who are less healthy. One study by Harvard Medical School found that for every dollar companies spent on wellness programs, their medical costs fell by $3.27 and absentee day costs dropped by about $2.73. Today nearly half of U.S. employees have access to a company wellness plan, according to new data from ORC International’s CARAVAN® Omnibus Surveys.
However, access alone doesn’t improve health. Participation does. And while participation is good, it could be better. Of those offered a wellness program, 67% of respondents in the U.S. actually participated—the highest of all of the countries that were interviewed. French participation was very close to that in the U.S. at 66%, followed by the Australians (59%), U.K. (56%) and Canada (55%). Participation dropped to just under half (48%) in Germany.
One possible solution for companies looking to move the needle: Consider adding fitness trackers to the wellness offering. These Internet-enabled devices allow employees to track their progress in real time against key indicators like steps taken during exercise, weight, blood pressure, and sleep quality.
Interest in Wearable Devices on the Rise
The CARAVAN® Omnibus Survey showed very high interest in fitness trackers among employees at companies worldwide. Overall, 77 percent said they would be interested in using a wearable fitness tracking device if their employer provided them with one. In the U.S., where enthusiasm was highest, 83 percent reported some interest and, of those, 47 percent said they were very interested. Australians and British respondents were also excited by the idea, with 80 percent expressing at least some interest and, of those, 43 percent (Australia)/41 percent (U.K.) saying they were very interested. Excitement fell for the Germans and the French. Seventy-one percent of Germans would be interested in using a fitness tracker provided by their company; 34% being very interested, and the French were least impressed by gadgetry, but even so, 70 percent showed some interest with 26 percent being very interested.
Could your employee wellness plan benefit from adding fitness trackers? Possibly, but you’ll need to structure the usage carefully. One study in Singapore found that people who were offered cash rewards for fitness goals significantly increased their activity during the reward period, but then slipped back afterward. Technology devices, especially when paired with well-defined goals and rewards, can influence behavior, but there’s no substitute for health education, a wellness-focused culture, and peer support.
Corporate health programs spell great rewards for businesses and embracing internet-connected devices such as fitness trackers could unlock even more gains from existing or new wellness initiatives.
ORC International’s CARAVAN® Omnibus Surveys combine consultative survey development expertise with a wide selection of both online and telephone survey options, and quickly deliver the insight you need without breaking the bank.