Wearable tech in the workplace a closer reality than we first thought?

More than half of Scots happy for employers to introduce ‘wearables’ 

Wearable technology could become commonplace in workplaces across Scotland sooner than we originally thought, suggest the results of a new study commissioned by PMI Health Group.
Fifty-three per cent of workers polled in Scotland said they would welcome their employers introducing the technology. And, according to PMI, which is part of Willis Towers Watson, the global market for wearable gadgets, such as fitness bands and smartwatches, is expected to hit US$5.8 billion by 2018 – that’s an 800% increase on its 2012 value. 
It says this popularity provides businesses with an opportunity to use the technology to collect valuable data on employee health.
The study found 8% of Scottish workers are already offered wearables by their employers, compared to a British average of 9% and a high of 26% in London.
Mike Blake, director at PMI Health Group, said: “Wearables have become commonplace in recent years and their popularity provides employers with a golden opportunity to collect valuable data that can be used to improve health and wellbeing.
“Already, we have seen several examples of businesses operating company-funded wearable schemes, where employees accept devices in the understanding that the data generated will be shared with their employers.
“Such initiatives can form part of wider health and wellbeing programmes, helping businesses to identify areas of risk and empower staff to take positive action. Not only could this enable a more proactive approach to absence management, tackling worrying trends before they become problematic, but it could also help to reduce claims and health insurance costs in the long term.”
The research also found only 33% of Scottish workers would object to sharing personal health-related data generated by wearables with their employers.
Blake added: “Scottish businesses will find it encouraging that only a minority of staff are opposed to sharing wearable data as part of wellbeing schemes.
“But even when objections are raised, such barriers can often be overcome through clear communication and consultation with employees. It is important for companies to outline what data will remain anonymous and underline that data will not be used in a discriminatory or unfair manner.
“In cases where data has been used to secure a reduction in insurance premiums, employees may also benefit from reduced contributions themselves, which will help to further smooth the process.”
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