Friday 7 December 2018 8:56 am

Technology holds the key to workplace wellness and productivity

Follow Vincent Lavergne
Global organisations are investing billions into corporate wellness programmes each year – a trend that isn't going to stop soon.

A survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that over half of businesses offering this type of initiative experienced less absenteeism and 66 per cent reported productivity gains.

However, success is not guaranteed. If a wellness programme is treated as a quick compliancy bolt-on, it could fast track widespread staff disillusionment and subpar performances.

Fortunately, technology has given us an edge when it comes to architecting 21st century workplaces to boost productivity levels and employee wellbeing. We have access to cutting-edge analytics and lightning-fast connectivity as standard, so there are no excuses for not grasping the bigger picture to help the workforce thrive.

Data is king

It is vital to compile strong datasets on employee satisfaction and behaviour. Naturally, there is a delicate balancing act to achieve here. You don’t want to be too intrusive, but it is important not to flounder in the dark. Analysing benefits data could enable employers to react faster to health option engagements and usage.

Walk the talk

Many businesses are already capturing data in ways that would be impossible a few years ago. Giving employees wearables with built-in sensors to monitor how long they sit, walk, type and talk is a good initiative. The feedback is then crunched via an algorithm that measures “happiness” in real-time. Job search and company review site Glassdoor estimates that 13m wearable fitness and activity tracking devices will be used in workplaces this year. While that doesn't mean bulk buying Fitbits for all, it is worth considering how to deftly integrate smart solutions with existing wellbeing programmes. Boosting overall health levels improves alertness and staves off illness to create a more dynamic work culture.

Make it fun

Adding a gamification dimension to wellness programmes is a great way to inspire activity and healthy competitiveness. The use of cognitive games and interactive online challenges helps to keep employees mentally sharp, and research has proven that such cerebral activities can improve productivity and alertness in the workplace.

Happiness by design

Creating a workplace conducive to productivity is a perennial challenge. Too often, we are crammed into cubicles and forced to work under the glare of harsh strip lighting. Research proves we need breaks from our screens and exposure to nature. Smart tech can help companies devise a comfortable atmosphere that encourages productivity and happiness, including AI-powered lighting that adjusts throughout the day to software ambient moods, alerts to prompt specific fitness activities, or even aromatic systems to stimulate senses.

Speak up!

According to Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey, 79 per cent of services and facilities offered to boost employee health have a low “awareness rate”. There are a variety of communicatory options available to ensure existing and future benefits are fully understood, including internal communication initiatives, dedicated Intranet content, messaging apps and social media.

The onus is on business leaders to keep their fingers on the pulse of workplace performance and employee health. Technology, if harnessed correctly, can be a real game-changer. Always listen, always adapt. Continually capture and react to data. Disconnected, disillusioned or ailing workforces will only negatively hit the bottom line.

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