In recent weeks, there has been increased press and discussions on the trucking industry and the risks of driver fatigue. Long hours on the road, often encouraged by pay per mile services, can result in truck drivers working without sufficient quantity and quality of sleep. Studies show that 13% to 31% of trucking accidents are fatigue related. Driver alertness has a significant impact on the safety and lives of every individual on the road.
To prevent fatigue and ensure drivers are alert at the wheel, drivers are required to log hours and adhere to various guidelines and regulations. Increasingly, commercial trucking companies are using electronic tracking devices to automatically track where a truck is and what it’s doing – eliminating the need for manual paper logs and also increasing the accuracy and validity of reporting. Unfortunately, knowing details on the truck is not always enough to guarantee an alert driver. Ensuring that truck drivers receive sufficient quantity and quality sleep can help keep drivers alert.
Quantity of Sleep
Similar to how electronic devices can be used to seamlessly track vehicle mileage and location, wellness technology can be used to track and promote sleep. Wearable devices and mobile sleep apps can automatically track sleep and help drivers ensure they are well rested and safe on the road. Employers can encourage drivers to use technology to track their sleep by providing wellness programs that have a sleep component. Through financial and non-financial incentives, employers can optimize participation in these programs.
Quality of Sleep
Wellness programs can also have a meaningful impact on sleep quality. According to a study, people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Through a comprehensive wellness program, employers can promote healthy behaviors that will maximize the quality of sleep a driver gets, further reducing the risk of a catastrophic and costly event to the driver, company, and civilians.
The trucking industry faces significant employee health issues. Long hours on the road in a sedentary position and unhealthy highway food options are a recipe for poor health. Consequently, truck drivers’ have an average life expectancy that is 16 years less than the general population, and employers are forced to pay significant medical expenses and manage health related productivity losses. Wellness programs can help employers reduce these costs.
Unfortunately, most wellness programs are ineffective for a trucking company. Trucking companies have a unique population and legacy wellness programs are a mismatch. Legacy solutions cannot efficiently and effectively promote wellness across geographically dispersed and mobile employee populations (truck drivers). Trucking companies must embrace technology that is just like their workforce – mobile. Mobile wellness technology allows drivers to monitor sleep, physical activity, and nutrition with a few swipes on a smartphone. The technology is cheap, easy to use, portable, and most importantly, behavior changing and engaging.
The emergence of mobile wellness technologies provides trucking employers the opportunity to solve the significant health and safety issues facing their workforce.
Duncan Williams, a family- and employee-owned investment firm headquartered in Memphis, TN, launches their Wellable program! Duncan Williams is part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthy Worksite Program and will be using Wellable’s technology platform to enhance their DWFit wellness program.
As part of a multi-year initiative, Duncan Williams is using Wellable to support a broad set of initiatives to promote employee health and wellness, including healthier choices in vending machines and monthly speakers. The Wellable technology platform will promote wellness beyond the workplace by allowing Duncan Williams employees to earn Wellable Points and rewards for being healthy outside of work. Wellable’s wellness platform and seamless integration with multiple app and device partners makes it easy for all employees to track their healthy behavior and engage in DWFit.
Check out the article about Duncan Williams and the amazing things they are doing for their employees.
It’s an exciting time for wellness. The recent influx of technology and a shifting healthcare landscape have contributed to a rapidly changing wellness industry. We receive lots of questions from our clients and readers about various wellness topics and industry trends, as well as requests for our thoughts and recommendations on particular mobile apps and wellness activities. We are kicking off a new blog series so that we can more publically share our responses to these questions.
Every few weeks we are going to answer a few of your questions.
Today, Nick Patel, President of Wellable, is kicking things off…
Tweet @GetWellable or email us with any questions and we will answer them in our next post.
What’s your favorite wellness app?
I probably have about 40 wellness apps on my smartphone that I’m testing for future Wellable integrations. My favorite is RunKeeper. I love running and in Boston we have amazing running paths along the Charles Rivers. My goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon but I still have a long way to go! I also play basketball in the mornings before work. I use Foursquare to check-in to the gym and earn Wellable points – got to get my Wellable points!
What do you think is the biggest obstacle for an employer to start a wellness program?
Many employers believe that starting a wellness program is extremely time consuming and expensive. This may have been true in the past, but with the emergence of some really great wellness technology solutions, this is no longer the case. Employers are pleasantly surprised when they realize the affordability of a wellness technology program. Some employers want to manage a wellness program internally, but for those who don’t have the resources (and most don’t), there are wellness solutions that require little to no employer resource drain. We’re focused on educating the market on the benefits of wellness technology and helping dispel the myth that wellness is expensive and resource draining.
What wellness trends are you most excited about?
We’re really excited about Apple’s recent entry into wellness. Apple’s presence in the space validates Wellable’s approach to market. Our team wrote an interesting blog post on this topic two weeks ago. Apple will help educate consumers on the benefits of wellness, and these same consumers are the end users of employer sponsored wellness programs like Wellable.
A second trend we’re really excited about is smartphone wellness optimization. Over the last year, we’ve seen smartphone manufacturers optimizing their hardware for wellness – this is a huge win for the industry. For example, because of updated processors, the Moves app is more battery-efficient for tracking a user’s activity. While wearable devices like Fitbit are great tools, they can be too expensive for many employers to purchase. With improved technology, the smartphone is becoming as good at tracking wellness activity as many wearable devices. Improved smartphone wellness is a major win for employers. Since most employees already have as smartphone, they can take advantage of great wellness features without having to purchase a pedometer or wearable device.
Tweet @GetWellable or email us with any questions and we will answer them in our next post.
When people think about employee wellness, they generally think about improving employee health and reducing healthcare costs. In 2010 Harvard researchers found that on average, there was a 6:1 return on investment (ROI) associated with employee wellness. The study found “that medical costs fall about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absentee day costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.” This report was great news for the wellness community, and many wellness vendors continue to pitch this ROI metric to clients.
While we agree that medical and absentee costs are powerful benefits of a well-constructed wellness program, they don’t tell the entire wellness story. There are other benefits of wellness, and two of these less talked about benefits are extremely compelling and worth greater attention.
Product, business model, and strategy are important, but without top employee talent nothing else matters. In the battle for talent, human resources teams use salary, promotion opportunities, career development, and other perks to attract and hire the best employees. Increasingly, wellness benefits are being added to the list of benefits used to recruit. “According to a study conducted by the Virgin Health Miles/Workforce Magazine, a striking 87 percent of employees say they consider health and wellness packages when choosing an employer.” Wellness programs demonstrate an employer’s commitment to employee’s personal health, likely an indication of the employer’s broader commitment to their employees’ growth, education, and wellbeing. With more firms offering wellness benefits, wellness is no longer a novelty. To be competitive in the talent market, employers need to offer competitive benefits, including wellness programs.
Employee referrals are often essential to successful recruiting. Top companies like Deloitte and Ernst and Young rely on employee referrals for about 50% of their hires. To keep the employee referral pipeline strong, companies must make sure that their firm is one worth recommending. According to a survey, wellness can play a major role in how likely an employee is to refer a friend to the company. “Employees who work for businesses with wellness initiatives say they like their jobs more—67% believe their employers take care of them. The same percentage say they’re extremely or very likely to recommend their workplace to others.”
With today’s average employee tenure at 4-5 years, retaining top talent can be a challenge. In addition to having recruiting benefits, wellness also plays a roll in retaining employees. “An organization is four times more likely to lose talent if its employees have an unfavorable view of its wellness efforts.” Wellness not only creates a happy work culture but also a more innovative one. “When wellness is a priority, employees are 3.5 times more likely to say they are being encouraged to be creative and innovative.” Innovation and opportunity keep employees excited about the company’s prospects and engaged with their work. Using wellness to retain employees isn’t only effective with larger companies. “Forty-five percent of Americans working at small to medium-sized companies say that they would stay at their jobs longer because of employer-sponsored wellness programs.” While employee turnover is healthy for any business, it’s important to ensure that employees are leaving for the right reasons.
Companies pay advertising firms millions of dollars to develop their brand. Brand helps sell products and win deals. A company’s brand must also extend into the labor market. How does the company treat employees? What is it like to work there? Are employees happy? Companies must advertise (often through their HR department) and promote their culture brand internally to current employees and externally to prospective employees. Aligning a brand with the theme of caring for employees can make it easier to recruit and retain employees. The best way to associate brand with caring is to offer a wellness program. Make sure the wellness program is exciting and fun – a program that gets people inside and outside of the company talking about wellness is good for the longevity of your employees and your company’s brand.
Boston Tech Industry News recently interviewed Nick Patel of Wellable.
Nick provides his thoughts on wellness apps, gamification, Wellable’s partnership with the Clinton Foundation, the Boston tech ecosystem, and more.
Click here to read the full interview.
Only about 20% of American adults over the age of 18 get the recommended amount of physical activity. That’s a pretty startling statistic. According to the CDC, the average adult should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of activity each week. 20% is far from a passing grade; America is failing!
We all know that exercise has a number of health benefits, but we may not be aware of the very noticeable effects that exercise can have on the human body. 4+ years longer life expectancy, decreased resting heart rate, and improved sleep quality, are just a few of the results of exercise.
This infographic does a great job of depicting the effects exercise has on the body:
So how do we move more people from the sedentary left side of this picture to the healthier right side?
We believe it needs to start in the workplace.
The number one reason people don’t get exercise is because they don’t have, or at least think they don’t have enough time. The biggest time commitment for Americans is work. Americans on average spend 36% (8.6 hours) of their day, or 52% of their non-sleeping day, doing work or work related activities. Many view work as a health impediment, we see work as an opportunity for health promotion.
Work should be a place where health and wellness is promoted and employees receive the tools, education, and encouragement to live a healthy life. Many employers even have the financial ability to provide meaningful incentives to encourage employee health.
Let employees know that their health and wellness is your priority. Most corporate offices have a “clean your things out of the fridge by Friday or they will be thrown out” sign in the employee common space. This type of poster works because it’s a constant reminder to employees.
Why not take a similar approach with wellness? A poster or sign in the employee common space is an easy and very inexpensive way to remind employees that health and wellness is a priority.
You can start by printing out the infographic above.
LeBron James scored 35 points in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, but the emerging star of the night was mobile wellness. Both Apple and Samsung ran mobile wellness commercials during the game. Viewers of the NBA finals and other sports enthusiasts are clearly a target market for these tech giants.
It will be exciting to see these two tech heavyweights continue to faceoff in the mobile wellness space. In the process, they will bring lots of attention to the wellness industry.
When Apple announces a new product, the industry takes notice. Apple’s recent announcement of Health made headlines and created a buzz of excitement in the mobile health industry.
The Health app is a consumer facing mobile app that will be pre-loaded on iPhones and included with the iOS 8 upgrade. Health aggregates data from a number of different mobile apps and wearable devices and provides users with a single, easy-to-use dashboard to view all their data. Physical activity, sleep, and nutrition data is seamlessly tracked and stored in one place.
If you’re a reader of the Wellable blog or familiar with Wellable’s product, Apple’s approach to the health market may sound similar to Wellable – it is.
Since launching Wellable over a year ago, our belief has been that the best approach to the wellness market is through an aggregation platform – a platform that provides users with a single, easy-to-use dashboard to manage their multi-app and multi-device experience. We can’t ask for a better validation of Wellable’s model and approach to market than Apple following suit a year later– thank you Apple.
So is Apple now competing against Wellable?
Not at all. In fact, Apple’s Health app is a huge win for Wellable and the wellness industry as a whole.
While Apple is focused on the consumer market, Wellable remains focused on bringing consumer technology to the enterprise market. Apple makes Wellable’s job of educating the market easier by increasing awareness of mobile health technology. Apple’s marketing juggernaut will bring mobile health further mainstream and into the lives of thousands who never considered using a mobile health app before. The barrier of having to download a health app will be removed for many. Because new iPhones will be pre-loaded with the Health app, thousands of people will have effectively “downloaded” a mobile health app before ever turning on their phone.
In addition to increasing awareness, we expect that Apple’s move into the mobile health market will fuel additional health app and wearable device development. There will be major strides in health innovation and also an increase in the number of health apps available in the market. This is a major win for health consumers and for other companies like Wellable that leverage consumer app and wearable device technology. Unfortunately, this also means that navigating the app market (identifying the good from the bad) will become increasingly challenging. Wellable’s curation of the app market will become more valuable for employers and other organizations looking to incorporate mobile health apps into a corporate wellness program.
When explaining their company or product, startup founders often associate their brand with other, more successful companies. For example, you may here a startup founder say, “we’re the Facebook of mobile payments,” or “our company is like Airbnb, but for the car industry.” Well, today, we give Apple permission to say, their new Health app is “Wellable for consumers.”
Old bulky wellness portals have been replaced by easy-to-use, high-engagement consumer wellness technology. Employees are using wellness technology in their personal lives and corporate wellness programs are embracing consumer-oriented technology to provide an improved wellness experience for employees. Incorporating wellness mobile apps like RunKeeper and wearable technology like Fitbit into an employee wellness program sounds like a great idea, but how exactly do you do it?
You need a game plan – and there are two important things to consider: curation and connection.
You want to leverage great consumer mobile wellness technology for your corporate wellness program, but where to begin? There are over 40,000 health and wellness mobile apps available. Some apps work well, others barely work. Running, cycling, yoga, meditation, nutrition tracking – the list goes on.
When constructing your wellness program it’s important to provide what we call “curated optionality.” Curated optionality means a limited but robust offering of mobile apps that cover various wellness activities and allows users to choose how to engage. Users are not restricted only to one mobile app or one type of activity, like walking.
At the same time, the list of wellness technology options should be limited and curated. Inundating users with mobile app options or allowing users to choose any app they want will not only be an administration nightmare, but also lead to a confusing and less effective user experience. Curation of the immense mobile app market will provide employees with app recommendations, which is important for employees who may be new to wellness technology.
If you’re looking for a quick list of effective wellness apps, reach out to your benefit consultant or wellness provider for some suggestions (or drop us a line)
After determining the menu of apps and devices available to employees, it’s important to find a way to create a coherent wellness experience. Multiple apps make this task more challenging.
A connected experience means that there is one central source to administer a multi-app and device experience. Data and activity is normalized and it doesn’t matter which app a users chooses to use (as long as it’s part of the curated menu of apps). Normalizing data becomes essential if you’re managing a competition or rewarding prizes based on activity when that activity is the result of various different types of wellness apps or devices. A technology driven wellness solution without a connected experience will fall flat – it will be challenging to keep track of activity and the activity will be meaningless without a common currency.
How do you build a connected wellness technology experience? Unfortunately without a sophisticated technology team and relationships with mobile app and wearable devices vendors, you probably can’t. Luckily you don’t need to because there are wellness technology companies who can provide this service for a lot less than you’d expect.
Many employers still track wellness programs using spreadsheets, emails, and other manual tools. While the effort is commendable, there is a better way to manage a wellness program. This better way involves leveraging a technology tool to automate wellness tracking. If you think a wellness technology tool is complicated, expensive, or time consuming for your company to utilize, think again.
The rise of the quantified self (QS) movement has led to the proliferation of tools and technologies to help consumers track, measure, and engage in wellness activity. Apps like RunKeeper allow users to track distance, calories burned, rate, route, and many other data points for running, cycling, walking, and other movement-based activities. Wearable devices like Fitbit allow users easily track total daily movement and automatically synch activity to a dashboard. The quantified self movement isn’t limited to the consumer wellness space anymore.
Technologies like RunKeeper and Fitbit have led to the consumerization of the employee wellness industry. Employees are using consumer-oriented wellness technology in their personal lives and are demanding the same quality, easy-of-use, and functionality with their corporate wellness technology. Clunky wellness portals that are difficult to use don’t cut it anymore. A new type of employee wellness technology has emerged to meet the needs of this new bread of wellness consumer. As a result of the consumerization of the wellness industry, technology tools and services now offer easy-to-use, resource lite, and seamless ways to track wellness activity and manage program logistics, and these solutions can be utilized for a fraction of the cost of older wellness technology solutions.
It’s time to get rid of your Biggest Loser spreadsheet or gym challenge email campaign and embrace the benefits of a new generation of consumer-oriented corporate wellness products.