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Tracking health, wellness, and productivity in the quantified workplace

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Drivers and inhibitors of the quantified workplace
  3. Quantified-workplace programs
  4. Mining for people dynamics
  5. Next steps and key takeaways
  6. About Jody Ranck

1. Summary

The Quantified Self (QS) is typically a personal approach to tracking data about health, wellness, and daily activities. Today, however, wearable technologies and QS tools are also used for improving workplace productivity. The toll of chronic diseases on workplace productivity is high, with seven major diseases accounting for a substantial amount of “presenteeism” — that is, workers performing less due to the effects of sickness and absenteeism. Depression alone accounts for nearly one third of productivity losses. And one study demonstrated that productivity losses due to chronic diseases amount to over $84 billion annually.

The growth of wearable computing, tracking, social-network analysis, and data analytics is opening up new ways of addressing both the wellness of employees as well as understanding the underlying social dynamics of any given firm that may also contribute to less stress and better health. These two areas are often treated separately. But their intersection offers the potential to build both healthier and more productive companies if the early generations of programs using these tools can prove their effectiveness and sustainability in the coming years.

Key findings in this report include:

  • While the U.S. Affordable Care Act creates incentives for employers to offer rewards to employees who practice healthy lifestyles, that driver is counterbalanced by inhibitors, including employee privacy concerns, minimal proof of ROI, and a backlash against badly designed behavioral incentives like gamification.
  • Employers are finding that wellness plans can suffer from lack of employee engagement, participation, and adherence. They should evaluate the results and potential solutions from programs such as Humana Vitality, Keas, Hubbub, and Jiff.
  • Tracking data on “people dynamics” will be a critical addition to employee wellness and productivity. The combination of monitoring internal work networks complements wellness programs to deliver an effective quantified workplace.

Thumbnail image courtesy of flickr user Nicola.