Pros and Cons of Using Fitness Trackers for Employee Wellness

The number of organizations using fitness trackers, such as Fitbit, for corporate wellness is expected to skyrocket. Before diving headfirst into a high-tech employee wellness initiative, companies should be aware of the potential benefits and risks.

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"Offer the fitness trackers as an incentive and give them away where possible," says Appirio's Daly. "Provide challenges that motivate employees to participate in your company wellness program using the tracker. Be transparent and explain how the employee metadata results may be used."

Offering fitness trackers for free isn't enough to incentivize employees, adds Asynchrony's Vance.

"You must design events around the program and give awards, even as economical as a T-shirt," Vance says. Find creative ways to recognize employees who are really committed. I also recommend just starting somewhere with these programs, even if it's small. We've always tried to communicate to our employees that this is something that will evolve over time, and we'll try to add at least one new 'initiative' to the program each year."

Granat, of Practice Fusion, suggests setting a company-wide fitness goal for a month and making sure anyone who hits the goal is recognized appropriately.

"We use raffle tickets as our reward and once a month we will pull a raffle ticket at random for a prize," such as a Bose sound system, an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and an iPhone, Granat says. "One-off challenges also seem to be popular, such as offering a prize for walking the most steps in a single weekend day."

These are the early days of fitness-tracker-based corporate wellness initiatives, and employers looking to launch their own programs will face challenges. An informed and strategic approach can minimize risk and result in happier, healthier and more inspired employees.

James A. Martin is an SEO and social media consultant and writes the CIO.com Martin on Mobile Apps blog. Follow him on Twitter. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.

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