The Fitbit Craze – Wearable Tech and Employee Wellness Competitions

Helping employees improve their health habits can be a challenge. But many companies are beginning to take a more playful approach to their corporate wellness programs. By leveraging workout trackers and fitness apps, companies can connect employees by encouraging friendly fitness competitions —whether their desks are down the hall from each other or across the world.

And the results are worth paying attention to. Find out how these “wearables” and fitness competitions are helping employees be healthier and more productive – and cutting company healthcare costs.

Fitness Apps and Workplace Wellness

Corporate wellness programs are nothing new, but the approach to motivating employees is changing. As wearable fitness technology like FitBit, Jawbone UP, and Nike Fuelband have exploded in popularity, more employers are encouraging these tools in the workplace.

Worldwide, sales of fitness wearables are projected to exceed $12 billion within the next two years. And a good chunk of that may come from corporations providing trackers to their workers. Employers will be using more than 13 million fitness trackers for their wellness programs by 2018, estimates ABI Research.

Corporate Health Competitions

Employee or otherwise, wearing a fitness tracker offers accountability, which can help boost motivation when it comes time to move more or make other healthy choices. In fact, one recent study found that those who relied on wearable tech increased their physical activity by nearly 40 minutes per week.

And when it comes to wearables in the workplace, many individuals aren’t just trying to best their own fitness numbers. A growing number of fitness trackers, like FitBit and Jawbone UP, are offering dedicated team wellness programs aimed at improving employee health.

Lowe’s Weight Smart program, which kicked off in January, encourages U.S. employees to use an interactive app to track their weight loss and compete with their coworkers across the country. Employees at the cloud computing company Appirio rely on Jawbone UP, which runs regular fitness competitions that span Appirio’s global offices, the BBC recently reported.

In fact, more than three quarters of CEO’s with wellness programs said they’d recently hosted activity challenges, according to a recent FitBit survey. And a whopping 95% said that they would likely organize a fitness challenge again in the coming year.

Lasting Health Benefits

Wellness programs, including those that include wearable fitness technology, have been shown to slash lost work days by as much as 80%, and increase worker retention, says the Harvard Business Review. These programs also add up to a bigger bottom line – every dollar invested in them has proven savings of up to $6M in company healthcare costs.

Fitness trackers and the competitions they inspire also play a role in promoting a culture of well-being. And that could set the stage for employees to take additional steps towards improving their health, like quitting smoking or finding new ways to cope with stress. In other words? These are the types of contests where everybody wins.