3 Reasons Wellness Programs Fail
Since they are typically worn on the upper body, low-impact shifts in daily habits, which such as standing more or cleaning, were shown as "immobile" and did not register on the activity trackers. Even high-impact activities, such as riding a bicycle, weren't calculated accurately.
So researchers moved the devices to the hips. Energy for standing up, bicycling, and walking or jogging uphill were also under-tracked. Shoe devices, in a comparative study, were shown to be the most effective tracking accurate energy expenditure for various activities. Calorie counts, interestingly enough, were only overestimated for activities such as typing, an ironic reward for desk-bound employees.
When employers are tracking incentives and investing in these devices to create long-term changes in employee behaviors, the accuracy of these tools absolutely matters.
3. Incentives don't change unhealthy habits for long
If employers don't like hearing that they aren't adequately using the data they have, and that some of their data is unreliable, they're really not going to like my next point: Wellness programs are not a good investment.
Sixty-nine percent of employers combine financial incentives with wellness programs, and 71% offer incentive rewards of more than $200 for participating in lifestyle management programs, but the lasting effects of the incentives according to the RAND report are "small and unlikely to be clinically meaningful."
You've got to wonder: Are any of these workplace behavioral changes likely to last?
Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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