The secret to wearables at work is no secrets

 Since wearable technology first emerged a few years ago, it has quickly moved from sci-fi territory to everyday use. According to our wearables survey we recently carried out with over 2,000 working adults in the UK:

  • 86% own a smartphone
  • 20% own a fitness tracker such as Fitbit
  • 17% own a smartwatch

Clearly, smart devices are taking off for consumers. For organisations they have the potential to unlock a new world of opportunity, offering key information to understand and manage the workforce and increase employee engagement. But so far, the use of wearables at work has remained consistently low. Getting the value proposition right is key for organisations and technology vendors and there are a number of important challenges to overcome.

The fact is that although people think that technology has an important role to play in their health and wellbeing, and 61% say they’re keen for their employer to take an active role in their wellbeing, four out of ten do not trust their employer to use the data for the employees’ benefit.

Interestingly the participants became more enthusiastic about wearables at work when they were offered something in return for their personal data. 25% of those that don’t trust their employer would be willing to share their data for an incentive such as increased pay or flexible working hours. There were also marked differences in the responses from different age groups; those aged between 18 and 34 – who now make up the largest portion of the workforce, are far more likely to share data than any other age group.

Essentially, the secret to wearables in the workplace, isn’t that much of a secret, it comes down to communication and trust. Employees want to know exactly what their data will be used for and that it will be safely handled. They also need to get something in return. In our survey 47% of all employees said they’d share their information in exchange for more flexible working, while 38% would be more likely to share for free health screening benefits.

If wearable tech is going to make the step from the consumer market to the workplace, employees need to be persuaded that there’s everything to gain and little to lose, and that their data is not going to be used against them. If organisations can meet that challenge then the future is bright for wearables at work.


Anthony Bruce

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Yann Bonduelle

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