3 Ways Employers Can Show the Value of Wearables and Boost Employee Buy-In

By: | July 13, 2021

Katie E. Stryker is the AVP, Risk Control, Work Comp & Auto at CNA. She applies her expertise to wearables and advancement in the industry. While much of this technology has been around for a while, the industry is in the beginning stages of outlining how we can truly utilize this technology to drive premium or overall perception of risk and loss probability. She can be reached at [email protected]

Over half of employees who participated in a recent industry study indicated that they were in favor of using wearable sensor technology in the workplace.

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While there may be support in use of this technology solution, it does not come without valid concerns that an employer must be ready and willing to address. Barriers to employee compliance include concerns about privacy of collected data, sensor durability, the cost/benefit ratio of using wearables and good manufacturing practice requirements.

For employers, a strategic and effective wearables program can help boost the company’s financial success and improve their employees’ quality of life and health.

The disconnect between the employees’ concerns and the employer’s goals is often a challenge.

Helping employees see the benefits and connect to the importance of a wearables program lies in understanding the value of wearables. Here are a few ways employers can show the value that wearables bring and gain employee buy-in.

1) Personal Safety

Employers can emphasize that wearables are integrated into the workday to help make their employees’ overall quality of life safer and stronger.

To truly accomplish this, it is important for the employer to introduce wearables that are targeted for each individual employee’s role.

For example, if an employer is monitoring proper posture and movements for ergonomics or sound levels for occupational noise exposures, but the employee is working in a non-physical job or in a quiet environment, then the employer may not be getting useful data.

In this type of situation the employee may not welcome the idea of using a wearable device.

On the other hand, employees working in hazardous industries that include high levels of dust or loud noises likely have already engaged in activities that monitor their exposure. Thus, employers may have more success in communicating the benefits of an effective wearables program. Keep the goal of the program focused on direct impact to the employees’ health and safety.

2) Privacy Protection

Some employees may view their employer collecting, monitoring and evaluating data from wearable sensors as an intrusion of their privacy or that collection of this data may be used to penalize them.

Most specifically, if an employer is monitoring physiological factors such as body temperature and heart rate or proximity sensors that track employee movement, ensuring that data is stored and used properly is of utmost importance.

Employers should remain open and honest about how data will be utilized and managed and be diligent in outlining solutions not aimed at penalizing employees for factors outside their control. Selecting a reputable and reliable provider is paramount to ensuring data sharing and storing protocols are consistent with the organization’s own privacy management practices.

In addition to employee concerns over privacy, employers must be mindful of the statutes and regulations that govern personal employee data and record keeping.

Some states may even require employers disclose what data they are collecting. In California, The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires organizations to inform the user of what data is collected and inform those users of the organization’s privacy practices and other states may adopt similar policies.

Other local or jurisdictional regulations may be applicable in the areas in which employees work, and as such, consulting with legal counsel to ensure compliance is adhered to is recommended.

Communicating steps the organization took to comply with all local and federal privacy laws prior to implementation of any wearable solution will aid in employee comfort and understanding of the technology.

3) Effectiveness

Employers can show the value of a wearables program simply by communicating results to the employees of the data collected.

Outlining observed trends, challenges and successes, and then providing a clear path for ways the employer will implement improved safety and health controls are key to proving wearable sensor value.

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The data can help decide which technology will be most effective in solving the current challenges. For example, some technology, such as proximity detection and air monitoring, have been proven effective in monitoring and detecting exposures as intended.

As technology continues to evolve, confirming that the technology solution is proven to work as intended is a necessity.

Being able to show the effectiveness of implementing wearable sensor solutions in a workplace can help close the loop on employee concerns and offer insight into why and how health and safety changes are being implemented.

The support of senior leadership is also important for employee buy-in. Gaining an entire company’s support in the value of a wearables program can be vital in the success of implementing wearable solutions in a workplace. By focusing on education, communication and protection, employers can expect to see an increase in adoption from their employees. &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]