Ailene Bui, Business Development Manager at Fitbit, outlined how wearable tech is enhancing employee engagement with wellness programs.
Bui began her thought leadership presentation at the 2017 CHRO Leadership Forum: Redesigning HR as the Business Partner, held in San Francisco on November 30, by stating she’d be talking about how technology can help companies scale and sustain a corporate wellness program.
Bui first gave a brief overview of today’s health issues. “We’re moving less and sleeping less. Nearly a third of adults admit to being inactive, and over a third aren’t getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. Nearly 40% of adults are overweight, and 80% of workers report feeling stress on the job. However, in 2015, Gallup research found that 56% of Americans worked out at least three times a week. How can we be moving less but exercising more?” she asked. “We’re exercising more because we know we have to. Employees acknowledge they need to make this change, but it takes time and effort. What companies need is a 24/7 approach to wellness,” she stated.
“Nearly a third of adults admit to being inactive. Nearly 40% of adults are overweight, and 80% of workers report feeling stress on the job. However, in 2015, Gallup research found that 56% of Americans worked out at least three times a week. How can we be moving less but exercising more?”
“We’re now all using one device, including wearable tech, for our personal and work lives. These devices have low barriers to entry, are easy to use, are inherently social, and are available via computer and smartphone. According to PWC research, health is the number-one reason people buy wearables. Two of three consumers say they want their company to pay for their wearable, and 80% of wearable users would wear the device more often if they were rewarded monetarily or with some kind of acknowledgment from the brand or their employer. Lastly, 57% of consumers are excited about wearables in everyday life, an increase from 41% in 2014,” she stated.
“Health is the number-one reason people buy wearables. Two of three consumers say they want their company to pay for their wearable, and 80% of wearable users would wear the device more often if they were rewarded monetarily or with some kind of acknowledgment from the brand or their employer.”
“According to NBGH/Fidelity’s 2017 corporate wellness survey, 86% of employers included wellness as part of their overall business strategy. For the first time, NBGH/Fidelity included fitness wearables, treadmill desks, and ergonomic support in their annual survey,” noted Bui. “Over half of employers said they’d have such devices in place by the end of 2017. In addition, 30% of employers offered subsidies for fitness wearables in 2017, and another 23% were considering this for the future. According to ABI Research, 44 million wearable devices will be integrated into corporate wellness programs by 2021.”
A critical factor in the move toward wellness is employee engagement. “ABI found that wearable technology increases employee engagement in wellness programs from 20% to as much as 70%. To shape healthy behaviors, we at Fitbit encourage wearers to use the device through engagement tools such as challenges. Challenges nudge people out of bad behaviors. Research has shown that moving every hour is almost as important as getting in a two-mile run every day. Many of us have heard the phrase, ‘Sitting is the new smoking.’ We’ve built various kinds of motivations into these devices to create healthy behaviors in a heterogeneous workforce.”
“Moving every hour is almost as important as getting in a two-mile run every day. Many of us have heard the phrase, ‘Sitting is the new smoking.’”
In summary, Bui said, “As wellness programs and technology continue to evolve, it only makes sense to power one with the other to propel your employees to better health.”
An audience member asked Bui for her top tip to companies regarding creating a successful wellness program. “Leadership is the cornerstone—defining champions within your organization for your workforce in these wellness programs really drives engagement,” she replied. “That’s the number-one factor for creating high levels of engagement.” She also suggested giving these champions access to performance data to measure and improve metrics and compare these with available data outside the organization.
ABOUT AILENE BUI:
Ailene manages business development for Fitbit Health Solutions in the U.S. Western Region, developing health programs with employers and organizations of all sizes. Successful programs include those with a long-lasting impact on health outcomes, healthy behavior, and culture.
Prior to joining Fitbit, Ailene was the Director of Sales for Harbor Health Systems, managing sales and business development for a leading health analytics company that developed the first outcomes-based provider networks in workers’ compensation. Ailene has also served in leadership roles in consulting and client services at IBM.
Ailene earned her MPH from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a BS in Marketing from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.