Wearable technology is one of the hottest trends in tech. Technology that fits on your person is going to revolutionise a myriad of industries, HR included.
You need to get on the wearables movement now and figure out ways to incorporate the tech into your organisation. Ignoring wearables will make you look behind the times, putting you at a serious disadvantage. Banning wearables will make your workplace look like a draconian high school: out of touch and overbearing.
Your best course of action is to embrace wearable technology in the workplace. Employees want to explore this new frontier in technology, your responsibility in HR is to make it possible.
Here are four ways you can implement wearables in the workplace and make HR the leader in the wearables movement at your organisation.
Use wearables to make the workplace more quantifiable
Everything employees do becomes measurable with wearables.
You can measure how long an employee spends at their desk. How often they get up to go to the toilet. You can even tell who they meet on the way there.
For now, let’s ignore the privacy implications and look at this data objectively.
Link new and unexpected metrics back to revenue: how social employees are, how healthy they are, the times of day employees take breaks. The data from wearables makes these activities measurable data, which you can use not only for better performance management, but also to help your employees before they burnout.
All the measurements previously done by surveys or gut feelings become solid facts. Wearables will enable you to use report on your people like the finance department on cashflow.
Employee engagement can be measured with greater accuracy. Turnover can be cured, rather than diagnosed by staff numbers. Cultural fit of employees can even be measured by how social they are with other employees.
Wearables are a step towards people analytics that put HR on par with departments reliant on data. You could out do the finance department with data on organisational performance.
Measure employee performance more efficiently
There are two ways you can measure performance with wearables. You can use it to track your employees like a hawk, knowing where they are, what they’re doing, and how long they’re doing it for. This is great if you want to give the impression you don’t trust your employees and treat them as a liability.
The other option is to use wearables to grow your employees and remove roadblocks to productivity. Unconventional suggestions to improve productivity can be measured, new initiatives can be trialed, and the impact of a new team member on others can be measured.
Take having an extra 15 minute break in the afternoon as an example. It sounds like a productivity drop on paper. With accurate data, you would argue employees would be better rested, and more productive after the break.
Such a suggestion would never see the light of day in the current workplace. There is no way to test productivity levels before or after the break, so you wouldn’t have a solid understanding of employee productivity to test against.
You can measure what actually improves engagement and productivity with wearables. Test what makes a difference to employees’ outputs, and implement perks accordingly.
With more metrics to measure, there is more data to share.
You can see who employees interact with most. Use the data from social interactions to bring employees closer together. It’s easy for an organisation to feel larger than it is when employees don’t know each other.
Have two employees that you know have never met before assigned to a project together? Send them a notification to start talking in Slack.
Wearables can be used for fun as much as productivity. Use light-hearted competition to Measure heart rates and fitness levels, determining who’s the healthiest in the office. See who does the most steps in a day, or who the biggest social butterfly is.
Get creative with wearables. Look for opportunities for them to drive engagement as much as improving work.
Wearables track people analytics in real time
You can track data from wearables in real time. You’ll be able to see who is working at their peak, who’s slacking off, and who needs to take a break. The temptation here is to use this data for negative reinforcement (“I noticed you’ve been slacking off all morning, Bob”), but in reality it’s far more useful for identifying potential issues before they become an issue (“How are you feeling this morning, Bob? Is there anything I can help you with?”).
Manage the heart rates of employees performing physical labour. You can see who is working too hard, and tell them to take a break before anything happens.
Use tech similar to Google Glass during interviews to gauge the response of candidates. Facial recognition tech makes it possible to pick up on excitement levels, or small ticks that mean things are not as they seem. Wearables in interviews will be great as long as it can shake the Blade Runner vibe. Just don’t ask any questions about turtles on their backs.
You could tell the CEO who the best-performing employee in the office is, right now. Check who is producing the most value with a glance at your iPad during a meeting.
Over time, you could event track people analytics over time to measure when employee’s most productive periods are. You could create work plans for employees, showing them when they should be doing the most involved work.
The key here is to use people analytics from wearables to help employees. Find out who is struggling, and develop a plan to help them out before they get pulled up by their manager.
How are you going to use wearables in your workplace?
These are just a few examples of wearables in the workplace. The possibilities are endless. Wearables are a platform for us to explore, creating new apps to suit our productivity needs.
The application of wearable technology will vary from workplace to workplace, and their level of use is only limited by your imagination. The usefulness of wearables will increase as our understanding grows, so it’s in our best interest to get onboard early.