Member Contribution: Tech Trends

The following is provided by John Burton, President of AIV member NPI, a tech­nology management company located in South Burlington. For more information, call (800) 639-6091, or go to www.npi.net.  

5 Powerful Workplace Wellbeing Technologies for 2017

Technology evolution continues to improve workplace wellbeing.  Many businesses already took the first step through the addition of ergonomic furniture such as standing desks and furniture specifically designed to keep backs and necks comfortable. But has your office considered some additional new technologies to improve workplace wellness this year?

Ergonomic mouse

The ergonomic mouse and now the vertical mouse are inexpensive and easier on the body.  The vertical mouse  is a healthier choice because it there is less pressure on your wrist and stress on your shoulder.

Wearable technology

Wearable technology can promote by tracking employee health. The devices help increase productivity while tracking health data for different wellness programs that companies adopt. Moreover, the data collected is also useful for companies when evaluating healthcare policies and costs. Starting at less than $100, businesses of all sizes can afford to offer these to employees.  An understanding of employee health habits will help any business to implement a cohesive healthcare policy.  BP distributed more than 24,500 Fitbit fitness trackers   for their North American staff as a way to track wellness.  Bloomberg reports that “around 2,000 companies worldwide offered their staff fitness trackers in 2013, rising to 10,000 in 2014…predicts that by 2016 most companies with more than 500 employees – will offer fitness trackers.”

Gamification

Gamification joins technology and game-playing to engage employees to help achieve goals.  A good gamification strategy needs to include rules, rewards and social interaction. Offices find that gamification can improve motivation as employees strive to win a challenge, whether it’s losing weight, eating healthier or achieving measurable fitness goals. Some businesses implement a gamification option with monthly or quarterly incentives to build a wellness-oriented culture. The teamwork and tracking that competitions generate provide staff with stronger incentives to reach their goals.

Mental Health Apps

Mental health apps like Headspace feature proven meditation and mindfulness techniques. Sleep apps track user sleeping habits and in some cases help them drift off to sleep with calming music, words and sound effects. Food/nutrition apps can keep tabs on caloric intake and the nutritional content of the food employees eat. Wellness-minded employers will encourage employee use of the apps that best fit the fitness and health objectives of the workplace.

Social Health

There are many social tools for encouraging interaction, including apps, forums and Facebook groups—to name just a few. Social media has the power to drive such interaction, which increases employee interest and ultimately determines the success of a business wellness program. The ShapeUp  app identifies social interaction by focusing on peer coaching, friendly competition, group support and social accountability.

Beware that wellness technology could also have drawbacks.  Many employees may feel that this is an invasive measure, or that it reduces their sense of privacy.  For an employer to steer clear of privacy pitfalls it is important to collect only the pertinent information and keep it highly secure.

Ultimately, the boom for increased employee health is on a fruitful growth trajectory.  Understanding employee needs and habits is a key step when it comes to what tech best suits each individual workplace and how best to introduce these measures to employees. In the future, we expect even more employers to adopt wellness programs. And why wouldn’t they? With technology advancing so rapidly, the ease of implementation is great—and the rewards for employer and employee are even greater.