Cost, security are main hurdles in the way of wearable adoption for employee wellness programs

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Many employers are onboard with using new technology – including wearable devices – to gather employee health data as part of employee wellness programs, but challenges like cost and security may get in the way.

Xerox Human Resources Services conducted a survey of 210 employers from across the world on their use of four different technologies in employee wellness programs: mobile phones and tablets, wearable sensors, gamification and social media. Mobile technologies beat out the rest in terms of numbers. Over 50 percent of those surveyed said they use apps or other mobile tech to appease their employees.

However, the survey noted that wearable sensors give the most accurate employee health data. About 37 percent of employers surveyed said they use wearables in wellness programs, while another 37 percent said they will adopt these devices in the future. In 2013, Xerox HR Services conducted the same survey but didn't include wearables.

While a significant portion of respondents are in favor of or use wearables in these programs, there are two major obstacles to overcome to satisfy both employer and employee, according to Xerox HR Services. Activity trackers with sensors can be quite expensive, and that cost could mean the difference between employers choosing wearables for a wellness program or another technology.

The second highest inhibitor to adoption the survey found was the perceived lack of security. About one-third of employers cited privacy concerns as issues in all technology categories. 

Overall, though, wearables came out a big hero in employee wellness programs. If 37 percent of employers already use wearables in these programs and 37 percent more will in the coming years, then 74 percent of wellness programs will include wearables in the future.

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