Jiff, a health benefits platform, argues that a recent study it conducted on employees of 14 large employers shows that wearable fitness trackers are a useful way to get workers engaged in their health.
The study results, claims the company, counter common assumptions that wearables only appeal to young employees and that few workers will stay committed to the device for a long period of time.
Analyzing data based on more than 250,000 employees at 14 employers that use its benefits platform, Jiff finds that while younger employees are more likely to partake in wearable programs, large numbers of older workers participated as well.
Just over half of all employees under 40 participated in the wearable program (and there was no difference between those in their 20s and those in their 30s). Forty-one percent of those age 40-50 participated, compared to 36 percent of workers age 50-60 and 35 percent of those over 60.
From Jiff’s perspective, that’s not that bad. It also argued that, contrary to popular belief, companies can prevent their employees from disengaging from the wearable program.
Among Jiff’s customers, the percentage of employees who participated in the wearable program who achieved their daily step goal fluctuated, increasing at times and declining other times. However, the percentage who recorded at least one step on their wearable device each day never rose above 50 percent.
Employers that offered incentives to employees to buy wearables or achieve certain goals saw better performance, the study finds. For instance, employees were more likely to buy wearables if they were offered a subsidy to purchase one, while workers who were offered financial rewards for taking a certain number of steps were far more likely to achieve those goals.
While the Jiff study suggested that a large number of employees might appreciate the opportunity to use wearables, it did not provide evidence that wearables are effective at helping people become healthier.
Recent studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of wearables, including their accuracy in counting steps or measuring other important activity or health metrics.