Wearable tech at work: How to harness your employees’ obsession with their activity trackers

18 Oct Wearable tech at work: How to harness your employees’ obsession with their activity trackers

If only your employees checked your intranet as often as they checked their fitness tracker.
If only your employees checked your intranet as often as they checked their fitness trackers.

Wearable tech at work is a game-changer – literally. It’s changing the way workplaces run employee health challenges, and it’s transforming the way employees integrate workplace wellness activities into their personal lives. Here’s how you can make your employees’ wearable tech work for your corporate health program.

So, your star employees are all obsessed with their wearable tech, huh? Constantly tapping and syncing those ubiquitous Fitbits and Jawbones and Garmins and Apple watches, and all those other little fitness devices that seem to be breeding like bunnies.

How can you get some of that energy and focus for your workplace wellness program to drive engagement, participation and, ultimately, results?

Engaged employees are productive employees

After all, the kinds of employees who use Fitbits et al are the kinds of employees you want to keep, right?

They’re motivated, they’re goal driven; they’ve got that elusive get-up-and-go factor that every employer seeks.

Whether they’re already super fit, or just starting a long weight-loss journey, you want their energy and drive.

But with those fitness trackers, they’re all off doing their own thing. They’re checking third party systems, reading emails from Fitbit (or Garmin or Apple etc), not from your health program. They’re all striving to achieve individual goals.

If only there was a way to unite them and get them all striving towards a shared corporate goal.

The solution is gamified challenges through online health platforms

Luckily, others have thought the same, and built online health platforms that do just that: give you an easy way to use your employees’ Fitbits and other wearable devices to strive together.

How? The secret is in that other 2015 buzzword: gamification.

Gamification is basically a fancy way of saying that people get points and rewards for doing things or achieving goals. Think of a video game, but instead of getting points for shooting the baddies, you’re getting points for walking 10,000 steps a day, for example, or eating five serves of veg.

This gamification is usually provided through a Challenge on a digital health platform, mobile responsive website or app. The platform usually includes Challenge content and functionality such as:

  • Explanation of the challenge, rules and journey in a visually exciting way
  • A means to sync devices
  • A leaderboard showing individual and team progress
  • A system for earning points & rewards for taking part
  • Broadcast emails to participants, on weekly tasks, ideas and progress
  • Tools for team members to communicate and share pics & ideas.

(Note: a good digital health platform provides a whole world of content, tools & activities beyond the gamified challenges. See what Activate offers here.)

How it works

Let’s take Raj as an example. He has a Fitbit. He’s using it to try to lose 10kg, get that BMI below 30.

His workplace is running a Step Challenge, and he’s on a team with Lisa and Liam.

He needs to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, over four weeks, to complete the challenge and be in the draw to win a major prize.

(Different systems will have a different spin on the Challenge. In our Step Challenge, employees go on a virtual trek from Kakadu to Uluru – that’s 280,000 steps for an average adult).

Each week Raj receives reminders about that week’s task, with supporting ideas, information and tools. Each week, or each day if he’s keen, he can go in to see how his team is progressing against other teams in his workplace.

If another team is ahead of his, he encourages Lisa and Liam to get their steps up by going for a walk at lunchtime and doing a walking meeting instead of sitting around the meeting room.

At the end of the Challenge, he’s earnt an extra 1000 points, and has now reached Silver level. He receives a gift voucher at a ceremony at the next quarterly meeting.

Benefits of using wearable tech in your corporate health program

The benefits felt at Raj’s workplace are many:

  1. Energy boosting: there’s a tangible sense of energy in the office, as everyone is looking for ways to get their steps up. There’s more walking over to a colleague to talk about a problem rather than emailing; more people are exercising before work and at lunchtime.
  2. Bonding: The silos are breaking down. People who don’t usually have a reason to talk to each other are in a team together, and are finding common ground.
  3. Positivity: The mood started to shift from doom and gloom about market conditions, to a can-do attitude, with a positive focus on breaking through personal barriers. People are talking about changes they’re making: the CEO’s internal newsletter includes a personal story about how he has started getting up at 5.30am to fit in a jog before work.
  4. Improved health habits: Over the four weeks of getting their steps up, employees have realised how many opportunities there are for exercise in their day. Something as simple as 10,000 steps a day has been catalyst for making lifestyle changes.
  5. Intelligent data: Because all participants had to do a quick health risk assessment before they could register for the Challenge, the employer now has a clear baseline report on health risks such as obesity, blood pressure, stress, sleep and health habits. After a year, they’ll be able to measure improvement on the same risk factors.


Ask us how Activate integrates wearable tech with a gamified step challenge for a high energy corporate health experience. We’ll give you a sneak peek into our unique Uluru Challenge. Email ask@healthworks.com.au

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