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HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN ENHANCE WELLBEING

Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2019/12

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​Businesses understand the advantages of cutting-edge technology when it comes to improving work processes and increasing productivity, but many are less acquainted with how it can help to improve employee wellbeing. 

Research by Mental Health Today, which analysed 2,099 UK adults, found that two-thirds of workers (65 per cent) considered their mental health to be critical, while less than half (44 per cent) stated that their physical health was equally important. 

What We Mean By Health And Wellbeing Technology 

Technology that supports employee health and wellbeing generally falls into one of three categories: 

  • Preventive: Platforms, trackers and workforce monitoring.

  • Supportive: Coaching and consultation. 

  • Rehabilitative: Absence management and counselling. 

Here, we look at some of the ways that both employee mental and physical health can be enriched through technology. 

Mobile Apps 

Technology in the workplace is about so much more than managing business tasks. Businesses can strengthen their employee wellbeing programme through the use of fitness, lifestyle and mental health apps. In fact, Headspace, a popular meditation app, has had more than 40 million downloads and over 250 companies offer their employees a Headspace subscription. At the other end of the spectrum, there are simple apps aimed to improve physical health such as Waterlogged which reminds people to drink water to avoid dehydration and its effects, including a lack of concentration which is detrimental to workplace productivity. 

Wearable Technology

Often used in conjunction with apps, wearable technology, such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, already play a significant role in our everyday lives. When it comes to businesses, providing staff with wearable technology is still a relatively new concept. In fact, according to a 2017 Corporate Decision Markers survey, only 9 per cent of the organisations surveyed offered wearable technology for their staff. 

Such tech can help to motivate employees to take part in both personal and group challenges. For example, there are physical productivity settings where your device can alert you when you’ve been sat still for too long, encouraging you to get up and walk. This isn’t just great for an employee’s physical wellbeing but encourages them to leave their desk every so often to engage with other employees, therefore bolstering team relationships. Not only this but wearable devices can help the user to recognise signs of stress, i.e. high heart rate.

Virtual GP and Support Services

Virtual GP and counselling services are also on the rise when it comes to workplace wellbeing. The Corporate Decision Makers survey also found that 23 per cent of employers offer access to GP services as a health and wellbeing benefit.

Such services offer employees 24/7 consultations with GPs and counsellors, either over the phone or via a webcam, so that they can connect with a professional at their convenience. Through removing the delay associated with traditional in-person appointments, these services can help to improve productivity and reduce absenteeism.