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Wellness communication goes mobile



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Forget mail-outs and flyers — benefits managers are going mobile and even texting to get employees involved in wellness, a new study shows.

Half of employers surveyed use mobile applications and other mobile technology to engage employees in health and wellbeing, according to the study from Xerox HR Services and the National Business Group on Health that looked at the use of gamification, mobile technologies, wearables and social media to promote employee well-being.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said mobile remains the highest priority for senior management when it comes to engaging workers in wellness, and 55% said texting capabilities will be added to such strategies in the near future, though only 15% use texting currently, according to the study, which surveyed 213 large employers in the fall of 2015.

Additionally, 34% of employers use wearables, 33% use social media, and 31% use gamification strategies to engage employees.

Activity tracking is used by 37% of employers, with another 37% planning to adopt the technology in the future, the survey showed.

Thirty-three percent of employers surveyed said they don't use mobile, wearables, social media or gamification when it comes to promoting employee wellbeing. Still fewer employers measure the outcomes of using the various technologies: 23% measure gamification outcomes, 16% measure mobile, 28% measure wearables, and 9% measure social media, according to the survey.

“Measuring the impact of technology-supported wellness programs remains challenging for employers, particularly where direct cause and effect cannot be quantified,” Scot Marcotte, Chicago-based client technology leader with Xerox HR Services, said in a statement. “Wearable sensors offer an opportunity for better measurement, but adoption of work-sponsored wearable usage has been slow due to a variety of reasons, including cost of the technology and privacy concerns.”

According to the statement, the greatest barrier to adoption of these technologies by employers for wellness purposes is the “competition from higher-priority issues in their budgets.” But there are also concerns over confidentially and privacy, especially for social media, according to the statement.