Emerging technology aids health strategies

Most organisations have a health engagement strategy in place, however, many do not take advantage of emerging technology to communicate this to employees, according to research by Buck Consultants and WorldatWork.

The Emerging technology in health engagement research, which polled 400 multinational organisations, looked at the use and effectiveness of emerging technology tools to engage employees in improving their health and wellbeing.

It found three-quarters (73%) of respondents have a health engagement strategy in place to encourage employees to improve and monitor their health, but 33% of respondents have not conducted any assessment of their employees’ preferences for various types of communications technology.

The emerging methods of technology analysed by the research include:

  • Gamification – The use of game-like features in non-game situations to motivate a change in behaviour.
  • Mobile technology – Mobile applications (apps) and other methods of communication or interaction available via a smartphone, tablet or similar wireless device.
  • Social networking or social media – A variety of technologies that support and/or mediate communications between organisations, communities and individuals, such as social media platforms, blogs or podcasts.

The research found that, across these specific types of technology, gamification is the most prevalent, with 62% of respondents using this to increase employee engagement with their health strategies.

It also found:

  • 62% of respondents use one or more gamification elements to promote health engagement to employees, while 31% are likely to adopt one or more new elements in the coming year.
  • 36% use online or mobile games in their health and wellbeing resources, and another 36% will adopt one or more elements in the coming year.
  • 32% use mobile technology for healthcare benefits, and an additional 52% might add this technology in the next three years.
  • 17% use mobile technology for wellness or lifestyle tracking or improving, but 63% might adopt this in the next three years.
  • Between 11% and 21% of respondents attempt to measure the return on investment of their use of emerging technology.

Barry Hall, principal and innovation leader, talent and HR solutions at Buck Consultants (pictured), said: “The effect of poor health and unhealthy lifestyles is a major concern in many parts of the world, not only due to the direct costs of medical care, but also due to indirect costs linked to absenteeism and productivity.

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“Enhanced health also is integral to overall wellbeing, and many employers view their efforts as contributing to their employee value proposition.

“Concurrent with these dynamics, the explosion of social media, mobile technology and gamification has created a new landscape in the daily lives of most people. Just as many organisations are exploring how to harness these emerging channels to engage with customers in new ways, many also are intrigued by the opportunity to use similar approaches to better engage employees in ways to improve their health.”