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We’re sure you’ve heard about the rise of wearable technology and the torture instrument sounding brands (Jawbone we’re looking at you). What interests us is the discussion that’s opened up around wearable technology usage in employment and particularly in recruitment.

Earlier last year CIO reported on a number of companies using fitness trackers on their employees to encourage physical activity and healthier eating. According to Gundersen Health Systems employees saw their mood, energy, and endurance improve. Appirio noted a stronger company culture, whilst VISTA Staffing highlighted a decrease in absenteeism. But at what cost? Not necessarily financial, although quantifying the effect of an improved mood on financial ROI is difficult, more importantly what is the social cost of fitness trackers?

In terms of recruitment, wearable technology has the opportunity to revolutionise the process, particularly in industries that have trouble recruiting and retaining employees. Large companies undoubtedly want the best talent so having rich data on an individual makes the selection processes easier.

Look at it this way – when two people with similar skills and experience are going for the same job, big data like their sleep pattern and exercise habits can act as the deciding factor for recruiters. If companies take the time to invest in these devices they have the opportunity to strengthen team morale through group exercise sessions and potentially minimise staff turnover also.

Offering rewards to fitness tracker users opens up a whole new range of opportunities to better employees and big data loving recruiters alike. Nevertheless companies must not ignore the bigger picture.

“Data is important, but it can’t – and shouldn’t – define who we are” – Brian Eastwood,

Now, of course, we’re looking on the bright side and not assuming companies will use fitness trackers to in a kind of ‘Orwell 1984’ way, but to make enhanced business decisions. However wearable technology does have some obvious limitations that need to be address before it can generate completely valid results.

Privacy concerns, owner of the data, and the social pressure element attached to companies asking employees to wear these devices are just a few problems but if companies are transparent with the usage of fitness trackers and maybe  set up benefits for those who wear them they may be able to benefit all parties involved. 

So, are wearables a welcome innovation or an invasive insight into professionals’ private lives? Tweet us what you think

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