article » Apple Watch Release News: Survey Finds 80 Percent Of US Employees Would Give Health Data From Wearables To Employers

Apple Watch Release News: Survey Finds 80 Percent Of US Employees Would Give Health Data From Wearables To Employers

February 2, 2015
3 min read

Sanna Chu

Ahead of the Apple Watch release date in April, a survey that found 80 percent of U.S. employees would be willing to use company-provided fitness trackers and provide that health data to their employer might give you pause. Could the imminent release of the long awaited iWatch make the wearable smart watch as much a part of our work lives as iPhones and iPads? The somewhat troubling stat comes from the latest annual the state of workplace productivity report from Cornerstone OnDemand, a cloud-based talent management software company and gives us a glimpse into the possible quantified employee of the near future.

The survey of over 2,000 Americans ages 18 and over who are employed full time was conducted for Cornerstone by leading global insights firm Kelton between August 21 and September of last year. The survey found that while only 12 percent of workers currently use a wearable, 71 percent of those who do say it’s pushed them to be more productive. Of those surveyed, 66 percent would be willing to use wearable tech if it improved their job performance, or 71 percent of employees ages 18 to 48 would use wearable tech compared to 57 percent of those ages 49 and over.

But the most startlingly finding is that 80 percent would be willing to provide employers with health data collected from work-provided wearables. Workers would be even more likely to use these work-provided wearables if there were extra incentives such as an extra 5 percent bonus at the end of the year (67 percent), reduced health insurance premiums (57 percent), discounts to exercise programs (36 percent), an extra vacation day for each month’s data (54 percent), a flexible work schedule (41 percent), or five percent less work hours (37 percent). But that doesn’t change the fact that one in eight would be fine with handing over their data without any incentives at all except for a free wearable from work.

“Our study suggest that monetary incentives certainly help,” Dr. Michael Housman, chief analytics officer at Cornerstone OnDemand told iDigitalTimes. “But eight in ten (80 percent) of employees motivated to use wearable technology that tracks their health and wellness without any incentive at all. That suggest the incentives aren’t really necessary. At the end of the day, being healthy is its own reward in and of itself.”

Wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers have been around for awhile now but usage is still relatively low as evidenced by this study, which found only 12 percent of workers currently use them. Another study found that 1 in 5 Americans own a wearable compared to two thirds of American adults who own a smartphone and 90 percent have a cell phone. The Apple Watch, which is set to ship sometime in April, is expected to take wearables mainstream, much like Apple did with the smartphone.

Therefore, with the upcoming Apple Watch release date, the question of why so many employees are willing to share health data from wearables with their employer becomes more pressing. “Employees have indicated that they’re willing to use them because they believe that employers are hoping to use them for the right reasons (for example, to incentivize them to engage in healthy behaviors) and not for the wrong reasons (for example, to track and monitor their employees’ behaviours),” Housman said. “The anecdotal evidence out there suggests that employers are using these wearable devices to inspire and motivate healthy behaviours”.

“There aren’t any examples (that we’re aware of) of employers utilizing these devices to track and monitor their employees with any sort of ill intent,” Housman added So we feel confident that employees should be comfortable sharing this data since the ultimate goal on both side is to create a healthier and more engaged employee.” Do you agree with this rosy outlook? Or would you be unwilling to share health data collected from wearables with your employer? Sound off in the comments below!