Wellbeing Technologies: Part 3 in the 6-Part Series
At the beginning of the year, we highlighted five corporate wellness trends we expect to see in 2016. One of the fastest growing trends is the use of wellbeing technologies, including apps, wearable activity devices, and other gamification tools. As we strive to foster a culture of health in the workplace, one way to motivate employees and keep them involved – especially among tech-savvy millennials – is to incorporate wellbeing technologies to help them stay on track. Whether they’re tracking their eating habits or their levels of activity, these wellbeing technologies help encourage good health both in the office and at home.
Apps & Workplace Nutrition
In a world where nearly everyone has a smart phone with them at all times, using wellness apps can be a great addition to your company’s wellness program. There are plenty of apps that specifically aim to encourage healthy eating by providing users with valuable information about the food they choose to buy.
- MyFitnessPal’s free Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker has the largest food databank, with over 5 million foods. You can enter your information and goals to get a personalized diet and exercise program, and then monitor your progress with meal and activity trackers. On top of tracking your calories, it also keeps tabs on how much sugar, calcium, and other vitamins you are getting each day. You can import recipes and scan food barcodes for nutritional information. MyFitnessPal is a popular app, and it works with wearable trackers like those by Fitbit, Garmin, and Jawbone UP (see more about those below).
- Lose It! is a free app available on iOS and Android. It also has a premium version for $39.99/yr with additional features. Lose It! allows you to track your daily food intake, measure your fitness, set goals, and be part of community activities and challenges. You can even access coaches. Scan food barcodes and search their extensive database of dishes and restaurant meals. It also works well with many fitness wearable trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone UP.
- Foodeducate is a free app, though getting a pro subscription unlocks additional features and removes ads. With this app, you can scan food barcodes and get food information, including a letter grade from A to D. It also suggests healthy alternatives. If you cook your own food or eat out, you can enter the food information manually to get accurate nutritional information. You also can track your calorie intake and exercise.
- HealthyOut is a free app geared for those who like to eat out. Find healthy meals from restaurants near you – HealthyOut will list dishes that contain half the calories or fat that average restaurant meals offer. You can filter results in a number of ways (such as calorie count, low carb, or heart healthy), and find meals that fit your diet (vegetarian or vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, Paleo, Atkins, and more). You can also filter by type of cuisine, dish, or ingredients.
- Zipongo is a company that’s specifically aimed at “helping employees navigate a company’s cafeteria menu to find choices that best meet a set of preferences and health goals set by the workers themselves.” It’s also useful for when you eat out or cook your own meal at home, and offers recipes and shopping lists. Zipongo has connected with 125 companies since its launch in 2011, including big names like Google and IBM.
Wearables & Workplace Fitness
There are a number of popular wearables that are gaining traction in the workplace. Wearables in particular are being used in many businesses as a way to track levels of activity and fitness. These wearables can monitor a huge range of activities, from the number of steps you take in a day to calories burned to sleep quality.
Some of the most common fitness monitors makers are Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone, Misfit, and Nike’s Fuelband; all five have a variety of available wearable trackers, and work with either their own apps or other popular apps.
- Garmin is one of the top products and has a special focus on energizing the workforce. In addition to tracking activity (steps, heart rate, sleep quality) and sending alerts, Garmin also offers special guidance and access to a Wellness Portal for businesses.
- Fitbit can track the steps you take, how much distance you cover, floors climbed, total active minutes, and calories burned. It can also track your heart rate and your sleep quality.
- Jawbone’s UP trackers offer a variety of features, including activity tracking, calories burned, and sleep quality. On top of that, Jawbone UP can alert you if you’re idle for too long, and offers Smart Coach – personalized advice and insights to reach your fitness, health, and sleep goals.
- Misfit provides activity tracking – including steps you take and calories burnt – as well as sleep monitoring, and can also send notifications to your phone to keep you on track.
- Nike’s Fuelband and app will monitor your steps taken, calories burned, calorie intake, and sleep quality, and also offers social features and the ability to post in Instagram.
These are just some of the many quality options available to improve employee health. You can pick and choose which apps and wearables will match your company’s needs and benefit your employees the most.
Wellbeing technologies, from apps to wearable trackers, are changing the corporate wellness landscape rapidly. Incorporating technologies like these into your wellness programs will have lasting effects on your company’s overall culture of health. When employees are eating right and keeping active, you will see increased productivity, less absenteeism, less stress, and a more supportive company culture. On top of that, your business will save money – not only from improved productivity, but also from reduced injuries and illness among employees.
Better nutritional and physical health, encouraged by using wellbeing technologies, will help your employees and your company. When added to your wellness program, they will help you create a strong culture of health in your workplace.