What Fitbit can Teach you about Employee Wellbeing

December 18, 2017

Fitbits seem to have become a firm favourite across a wide range of ages and professions, but did you know this trend can also improve your employees’ wellbeing? Laura tells us how.

By Laura Rigby

Yes, ok, I’ll admit, I’ve joined the trend… I am now a fully-fledged member of the Fitbit crew. Disclaimer: other wearable fitness / heart rate trackers are available!

As the little device strapped around my wrist commands me to move around the office more regularly, I found myself wondering what impact wearable technology could have on a company.

Firstly, it’s a well-known fact that moving around at regular intervals improves energy, engagement and efficiency. For us Fitbit wearers, this comes with the added benefit of boosting our step count and getting closer to our daily step target! #geeks

As a result, we’re far more likely to get up and walk to a colleague’s desk instead of pinging them a quick email or picking up the phone, hence better working relationships and stronger communication – win-win!

But what can a Fitbit tell us about employee wellbeing? Used in conjunction with the App, my Fitbit measures the following biometrics: steps taken, distance covered, heart rate, food and drink intake, calories burnt, how many flights of stairs taken, workouts, and time spent asleep. Although not a measurement, my Fitbit also includes a breathing activity, which is aimed at helping you to relax.

As it all data is quantitative, it can only go so far to provide an insight into staff wellbeing. It will not be able to tell us how stressed someone is, for example. So, to find out more, companies could gather this data as part of a wellbeing survey and ask additional questions to establish levels of stress, whether they feel supported and whether they’ve found the breathing exercises helpful in combating stress at work. Although results will be more subjective, you may find trends in the responses received – i.e. a higher resting heart rate for those feeling more stressed or a lack of movement in those feeling under pressure to meet a deadline.

If this is of interest, bear in mind you’ll need to gain employee consent (particularly next year once GDPR comes into force) and that data collection will have to be voluntary (hence runs the risk of a more biased representation). You may experience some resistance and concerns over surveillance. However, the results will inevitably provide interesting responses to help shape wellbeing strategy and encourage a healthier lifestyle for employees. Survey repetition will also highlight how effective certain strategies have been and whether there has been a positive change in employees’ day-to-day experiences at work.

Fitbits could also help companies with their CSR, including raising money for charity. Law firm Shakespeare Martineau recently set a challenge for staff to collectively track enough steps to get to the Gold Coast and back. Whilst for them, it was a competition to win tickets to see the 2018 Commonwealth Games, this is the sort of thing that can be turned into a sponsored event to raise money and awareness for a local charity.

So, we have the following benefits – productivity, engagement, communication, better working relationships, improved wellbeing strategy, a healthier lifestyle whilst at work and charitable giving. However, to burst my own bubble, I do realise that this all relies on enough people investing in trackable technology!

Anyway… Best go – my Fitbit is telling me it’s “step o’clock”!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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