Healthcare Technology Featured Article

September 20, 2017

Technology Has a Huge Impact on Workplace Health

It’s true that technology can negatively impact a person’s health. When employees sit hunched over a desk every day, they can experience neck, back, and head pain as a result. There’s also a reduction in physical activity because most of your work can be done in one spot.

But, there are also some profoundly positive influences of technology when it comes to workplace health. As technology becomes an ever-present commodity in today’s offices, we must understand their relationship with our health and what can be done to promote it.

Technology Can Hurt Your Health

Technology has weaved itself into every aspect of work. It’s almost impossible to do anything without logging on to the internet, and everyone has multiple devices to complete their tasks.

There’s software for collaborating on projects, tracking time, budgeting, facilitating help desk tickets, and so much more. This makes it easy to communicate with your office and stay on top of your work wherever you are, and the productivity is frankly astounding.

But there can be negative health effects due to technology at work. Countless studies have shown how attachment to technology can cause everything from carpal tunnel in the wrists to bulging disks in the neck and back. Technology can also increase stress, damage eyesight, make it difficult to sleep, cause depression, contribute to weight gain, and lead to major health problems down the road.

Employees have a right to occupational health and safety, but technology that’s required to do the work can make it difficult to maintain that inherent right. Too often, the result is a lack of productivity in the workplace.

Lower productivity creates higher absenteeism rates in the office. This refers to sick days and days where employees are there, but not productive. Every year, lost productivity costs businesses more than $84 billion in the United States alone.

Technology Can Improve Workplace Health

Recognizing the negative impacts of workplace technology is the very first step in correcting the problem. Worldwide, thousands of companies have recognized the technological toll on their employees, and they’re turning to more technology for help.

It has spurred the creation of corporate wellness initiatives that act as a standard for using technology for the promotion of health rather than its detriment. Here are some examples any organization can learn from.

Health Data Collection

Data can be used in any industry to show the value of employee health. The staff at Crossrail, a construction company that creates tunnels and tracks in London, used an online assessment to help diagnose health problems among their employees.

The resulting answers helped the organization make changes within the company to promote greater health. They also started a health campaign that spanned across the UK, encouraging health initiatives in any industry.

Now, they’re working with Transport for London to gather information about the average employee’s activity levels. They handed out wristbands to public commuters that detected movement, and the information is being used to fuel a campaign to spread these health initiatives globally. This kind of data collection is paramount for indicating technological movements in workplaces.

Social Motivation

There’s also a social factor with technology. When workplaces hold competitions to keep track of exercise and health goals, it helps others stay focused. Social media is a great outlet for those seeking personal validation for their health goals. They can post their progress and receive positive feedback from their friends, coworkers, and family.

Johnson & Johnson, for example, used social media to promote health in their workplace, as well as in the lives of their consumers. They launched a Care Inspires Care campaign on Facebook, and enlisted the help of other healthcare organizations. It created a worldwide trend for recognizing the benefits of health and wellness in our everyday lives.

Wearable Tech

Many companies are turning to these useful fitness trackers to motivate their employees to do a little more work. In fact, according to HR Drive, 35 percent of employers are incorporating wearables into their workplace wellness programs. What’s more, about six percent of consumers who own a wearable fitness tracker got them from their employers.

BP, for example, handed out Fitbits to each of their employees in a corporate health initiative. They created the One Million Steps Challenge where they encouraged employees and fans to record their steps with Fitbit and social tracking. In one year, they had 23,000 employees take more than 23 billion steps.

Anyone can use technology for the betterment of their workplace. As you recognize how technology can help your employees regress, think about the software and devices that make it possible to progress. The resulting wellness is essential to a brighter future. 

Edited by Mandi Nowitz
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