The Future of Workplace Wellbeing Lies in Digital

Digital methods of maintaining employee wellbeing have become commonplace, but organisations still might not be using digital to its full potential. This was the conclusion of an insight report written by workplace wellbeing specialists Do Something Different. 

The report was comprised of research carried out by the Catalyst team at the Sussex Innovation Centre, on behalf of the company. Several digital innovation and wellbeing professionals from a variety of organisations were interviewed in-depth, leading to many interesting findings.

Currently, the majority of employers use digital systems only to provide their staff with health-related information. However, a common sentiment shared amongst the interviewees was that corporate use of digital systems for health purposes is sure to increase in the coming years.

The experts interviewed believe that the best way to harness the power of digital is to use it as a tool to encourage employees to maintain their own physical and mental health, and consequently prevent avoidable health problems. Despite this, currently only a minority of companies have taken that extra step and introduced a level of interactivity into their digital wellbeing schemes. 

Health and life insurance providers Vitality are a good example of this. Their Head of Digital Delivery, Simon Bradley, regards digital as the main differentiator between Vitality and other insurance providers. They use digital schemes to track their customers’ activity, and reward them for healthy behaviour. For instance, going on a 12,500 step walk in a day earns them a free Starbucks coffee.

For a health insurance company, the results of this scheme are undoubtedly mutually beneficial. And the same applies to the workplace: aside from improving their people’s quality of life, investing in such systems will see significant returns for participating organisations, as healthy workers take fewer sick days and are more productive. This is highlighted by Alex Davidge of Bupa, who explained that many of the costs of the company could be traced back to preventable diseases, caused by stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Digital is ideal for preventative measures as it provides a cost-effective and easily accessible way for employees to keep track of their health daily, using technology that most people already own. With so many benefits, it is important to ascertain why the majority of companies have yet to fully explore the potential of digital.

A CIPD survey of HR professionals identified lack of confidence as the main obstacle preventing digital technologies from becoming widespread. However, this barrier could be breaking down. Sam Fraser of South Western Ambulance Service stated that younger staff readily embrace mobile technologies, and suggests that the workforce is changing. The NHS confirms this in their 5 Year Forward View, where they commit to making their digital systems more interactive and mobile-centric in the future. 

For more information, read the full report here.