A healthy and happy workforce tends to be a productive one, and incorporating incentive programs to encourage a healthy work/life balance goes a long way toward creating that type of environment at your workplace. Today, with the growing popularity of fitness technology, many businesses are using these devices to encourage employees to strive for a healthy and fit lifestyle.

In the U.S., approximately 90 percent of companies offer some sort of wellness program in the workplace, and many forward-thinking companies are looking at wearable fitness technology as a fun and interactive way to encourage employee participation in various wellness initiatives. Fitness technology, such as Fitbit, can be used to track specific information:

  • Number of steps taken.
  • Distance traveled throughout the day.
  • Calories burned.
  • Sleep time and quality.

Employers are using these types of fitness wearables in the workplace to encourage employees to pursue a healthy lifestyle, both at work and at home. In fact, a survey of 2,000 workers found that eight out of 10 full-time employees reported that they would be motivated to use wearable fitness technology — if it were provided by their employers.

Implementing a wellness program with fitness wearables can be beneficial for both the employer and the employees. A big one comes down to spending: Employers may see substantial savings through the use of wellness incentives, a much-appreciated trend to combat the fact that health care costs continue to rise. As an example, a Harvard Business Review report found that, within a company whose employees use Fitbit for their wellness program, the health care costs of highly engaged participants increased a mere 0.7 percent annually, compared with a 24 percent increase from those employees who were less engaged in the program.

Using wearable technology and incentives to promote a healthier workforce can not only encourage employee participation but also make the management and verification of the program easy. Since information from fitness wearables is automatically tracked by a third party, employees don’t need to think about tracking information. Employee incentives that are combined with the ease of wearables encourage employees to participate more, leading to desired outcomes for the entire company: decreased spending on health care for employers, incentives that offer tangible rewards for employees, and an overall improvement in the general health of the workforce.

It should be noted that there are some obstacles still being navigated as companies implement fitness technology into the workplace, such as the cost of providing wearable fitness items for employees as well as privacy issues. But with the use of fitness wearables on the rise, it may be well worth the effort to survey employee interest in this type of wellness program. The important thing to remember is that the goal of any wellness program is active participation, without extreme effort on the part of your staff. Utilizing fitness technology as part of an incentive program makes active participation easy, and the results are tangible.

Allison Hutton is an experienced writer, editor, communications professional, researcher and social media consultant. During her more than 15 years of communications and writing experience, Allison has worked with a variety of clients, from small-business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She has an M.S. in entertainment business, a B.A. in communication and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and four children.