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14 ways to improve corporate wellness programs with wearables

James A. Martin | Oct. 6, 2015
Corporate wellness experts share dos and don't of wearable-based corporate health and wellness programs, along with advice on how to enhance and improve your organizations current employee fitness initiatives.

3) Stay up to data on relevant regulations

Organizations that use wearables to collect employee data need to be clear on the potential compliance and legal issues related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Dreiband said. Wellness plans that collect medical information, such as heart rate and blood pressure, must be voluntary and may not carry a penalty for non-participation in any way, or they could violate the ADA, for example.

Putting employee fitness data to work

4) Compare anonymous fitness data and business goals

Whenever possible, it's a good idea to tie aggregated, anonymous data from corporate wellness program or fitness challenges to metrics that measure business goals, according to Liz Boehm, experience innovation network director for Vocera, a healthcare communication system vendor. By combining these data sets, senior management can see how (or if) wellness program engagement helps the company achieve fewer manufacturing errors, lower employee turnover rates, or achieve other business goals. These insights can help keep senior executives bullish on the company's wellness and fitness programs, and convince skeptics the programs are worth the effort and expense.

5) Don't overthink baselines 

Companies should avoid getting bogged down when they try to determine baselines for the wellness and fitness program data they want to measure, according to Jennifer Benz, CEO of Benz Communications, which specializes in helping organizations communicate health and wellness programs to employees. (Notable Benz clients include Intuit and Adobe.) "There's already a lot of great baseline data out there, so you don't have to figure out precisely where your organization is to figure out how to measure improvements."

6) Keep it simple

Companies shouldn't get carried away and try to measure too many things, Benz said. "Most successful organizations find a couple of metrics to track that are key to their overall business environment," she said. Wellness programs can often have a "halo effect," as well, giving employees a better sense of their health, according to Benz, which is "something you may not be able to measure, but will be able to see and hear among people in your organization."

Tips for enhanced communication, outreach for fitness programs

7) No silver bullet 

There is no single communications channel that's best for raising employee awareness and engagement, according to Benz. So it's best to embrace multiple channels and formats. Most employees have preferred ways of receiving information, such as viewing online video or reading infographics and email, and the way to reach the largest audience is by using more communication methods.

Ultimately, the goal is "to change wellness behavior, not communications behavior," Boehm said. 


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