Smart watches, smart glasses, hearables and exoskeletons – it’s certainly not your grandfather’s workforce anymore.
Today companies are turning to technology to give them a competitive advantage, and that includes keeping their workers safe, productive and happy with wearables. IDC forecasted that the wearable devices market will grow more than 15% in 2019, with Research Director Ramon T. Llamas listing enterprise adoption as one of the two main drivers of the growth.
And just how are companies using wearable technology today?
- To improve employee decision making. Quick, accurate decision making can be the difference between success and failure in the operating room. Many surgeons have found Google Glass helpful, allowing them to maintain focus on their patients while still referencing CT or X-ray images, look up medical information and consult with other doctors during surgery.
- Measure employee performance. Dartmouth researchers claim their mobile-sensing system, which consists of fitness bracelets, sensors and a custom app, can measure employee performance with 80% accuracy. The system can be used across all industries and employee types.
- Increase employee safety. Worker safety is paramount in risk-prone industries. Parsons Corp., a technology-focused defense, security and infrastructure firm, uses a radio-frequency identification (RFID) for proximity detection between workers and machines. The RFID fob is attached to the workers themselves, and actively measures their proximity to equipment to help prevent injuries.
- Promote employee wellness. Fitbit employees use the company’s own wrist tracker technology to earn rewards for being active. The initiative drives wellness, productivity and the health of its employees and can be replicated across all industries, from hospitals and universities to engineering and insurance firms.
While adoption is growing, using wearable technology in corporate settings is still a relatively new trend. Humans can sometimes fear the unknown. In that sense, your company’s use of wearables could potentially negatively affect your ability to attract talent. On the other hand, your use of wearables might signal to digitally savvy talent that you’re innovative and willing to embrace modern technology.
So, how should a company talk about its use of wearables in a way that appeals to all employees and potential employees?
- Focus on the employee benefits, not your own. Skeptics will need to be crystal clear on how wearables can improve their employee experience. Here’s an example. If your message to candidates is that the technology will increase their productivity and output, they could end up feeling like just a number to you instead of a valuable asset. Focus instead on how your wearable will make it easier for them to do their job and improve their experience at work.
- Ensure your communication is consistent with your company culture. Are you a traditional company that’s slower to implementing new tech solutions? Or are you and your employees open to trying new technologies often? How you talk about your use of wearables should be consistent with your culture. Expect more formal discussions around the what and why behind them if your employees aren’t as tech-minded. But if they are, an overly formal communication process might raise red flags, and an informal town hall meeting might be better received.
- Be open to feedback, and implement changes. As with any technology, there’s likely going to be a few kinks to work out. Consider testing wearables first to gauge potential, and gather as much employee feedback as possible. Each company is unique, so don’t assume if a competitor is using wearables that the strategy will work in the exact same way for you. Similarly, think about whether adoption should be mandatory. If employees aren’t comfortable, perhaps they would benefit from seeing how it helps their peers first.
It’s apparent that the workplace has advanced beyond yoga ball chairs, stand up desks and simple posture reminders. Will your organization be an early adopter of this new trend of wearable technologies or wait to learn more? We can’t wait to follow this growing trend.