Empowering employees to be in charge of their own well-being

Zone’s Employee Experience Strategy Director, Lauren Coe, discusses how organisations can encourage employees to take the onus of their well-being through wearables and its benefit in the workplace.

Organisations have been exploring the use of wearables to drive employee well-being for years, with varying degrees of success. Some organisations really embraced the technology and started to use the data it provides to identify early trends and concerns across the workforce. Other organisations used the accessible and intuitive technology of wearables to create games and competition across their workforce, encouraging people to stay active.

Woman at work looking at her fitness and health wearable

However, whilst the technology has evolved significantly, the thinking of how organisations use the data to drive personalised experiences has lagged. Many organisations use the data to design and implement employee experience (EX) interventions or projects, but the real power of the data is in giving this to the individual, not the organisation.

In a world where we talk so passionately about employee experience and empowerment, why do we simply not provide the tools, data and support for individuals to make their own behavioural changes based on what they need to be happy, healthy and productive? Organisations don’t need to collect and collate data to group people, so it’s easier for them to build their well-being programme; they need to help individuals understand their own well-being and have the opportunity to improve it based on their wants and needs.

With products on the market now, such as Whoop, individuals can track heart rate variability to understand their bodies. This data has been used for individuals to detect a heart attack or even a bipolar episode before they feel them. Will Ahmed, Whoop founder and CEO, remarked in a recent interview with Jacob Morgan that: “People are waking up to the fact that there are certain things you can measure about your body that you can’t feel.”

This allows organisations to empower individuals to decide how they work based on data that shows them what makes them most productive and happy and drives their well-being. By offering your employees wearables, they can start to understand how their body reacts to different situations, environments and events. Organisations will begin to see behavioural nudges driven by the individual. Whether this is how they can achieve higher quality sleep, reduce their stress levels, or reduce injury from exercise, it results in improved well-being, leading to enhanced productivity, reduced absence and higher engagement with their work and employer.

Happy colleagues at work

As with everything else, technology alone cannot provide the answer. This must be supported by your policies, workplace design, leadership and ultimately, your organisation’s purpose and culture. If your employee has recognised that they have high stress in busy and noisy work environments, does your workplace offer quiet, individual workspaces? If an individual realises that if they sleep until 9am, their well-being dramatically improves from their usual 6am wake up, do you offer flexible working hours in your policies? Most importantly, does your culture provide psychological safety for individuals to use this data about themselves and take action on their own?

Employee experience, in its simplest form, is about empowering individuals to work the way they want to work, which makes them successful in their roles. Technology and data are powerful tools to enable a culture that recognises each employee as an individual.

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We write about customer experience, employee experience, design, content & technology to share our knowledge with the wider community.