- A growing number of companies are moving into corporate wellness technology development, creating platforms for other companies to implement workplace wellness programs.
- By leveraging mobile applications and fitness trackers, these platforms help employers and employees input, track, and analyze real-time data in areas such as fitness, health metrics, emotional wellness, and nutrition.
Workplaces, especially large companies with many locations, may benefit from outside help in setting up, coordinating, and tracking the various aspects of wellness programs. Companies that specialize in digital integration for workplace wellness meet this need by creating platforms for their clients to achieve their health goals. These digital integrators provide individual plans that cater to their clients and leverage digital technology and fitness/activity trackers to collect and analyze (often real-time) data.
Although different companies prioritize these to varying extents, the three common goals of digital integrators are to: (1) Engage and incentivize employees, (2) Decrease healthcare costs for employers, and (3) Produce measurable improvement in health. Employers hiring digital integrators often end up with a “hub” in which they can access all of their employee data in order to measure outcomes and give out incentives. On the employee side, these platforms allow users to go to one place to input, access, and track all of their data – including physical activity, nutrition, health metrics, and emotional wellness.
Overall, the expertise provided by digital integrators may make wellness program implementation not just timelier but also more effective. Digital integrators have skill in cutting-edge technology, design, and various fields of health, including physical fitness and psychology. They also have valuable experience from former clients. Moreover, the competition in this sector drives digital integrators to innovate, finding ways to distinguish themselves using gamification or strategic partnerships.
That being said, major companies, governments, and even schools have been able to implement successful workplace wellness programs without hiring outside support. Furthermore, the major limitation is that these companies’ programs focus mainly on lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, some studies argue that disease management is also a significant area of healthcare costs. Of course, employees with chronic conditions do benefit from lifestyle and preventive programs; however, it is not clear that the companies described here help employers provide specific support for their employees with pre-existing conditions.
It also needs to be acknowledged that most digital integrators are sparing in the information they provide about their programs online. This makes analysis of these companies difficult. For companies hoping to work with digital integrators, it may be valuable for them to reach out directly and conduct their own research.
Building an effective workplace wellness platform is the foundation of getting health and financial outcomes. However, successful design is not just about aesthetics. What sets certain platforms apart from the large pool of companies in this sector are outcomes and innovation.
Sonic Boom was founded as a response to poor employee engagement with workplace wellness programs. Sonic Boom designs programs to engage and motivate employees. Employers purchase the programs as a tool to deliver effective workplace wellness programs for their employees. These customizable programs, designed with a shuttle-aircraft theme, include Sonic Striding (activity tracking), Coach’s corner (personal coaching), and Caught Ya Bein’ Healthy (social reinforcement for doing ‘healthy’ acts). Although they offer biometric screening options and a free Health Quality Assessment option for their clients, Sonic Boom focuses primarily on increasing physical activity, which they consider the most important factor of health improvement in the workplace.
One of Sonic Boom’s main strengths is its ability to motivate its users with non-monetary incentives. Given that financial incentives work only to a limited extent, Sonic Boom goes beyond many wellness technology companies by using social interactions and intrinsic motivation to further engagement. It has found success, as evidenced by an average 60% employee engagement rate across all employers in the U.S. using Sonic Boom’s products. In addition, Sonic Boom prides itself on being different. It employs a self-described “whimsical” theme of aircraft shuttles that offers a childish energy to its clients. Whether or not that limits its client base remains to be seen.
On the other hand, the major limitation of Sonic Boom is its focus on physical activity. With regards to employee health, nutrition, smoking, and chronic disease management play significant roles. Although it acknowledges the importance of these factors, Sonic Boom specializes in physical activity; and while that focus may account for producing better results, workplace wellness programs should ultimately move beyond just one piece of the health puzzle.
Not all companies are as transparent as Sonic Boom about their programs. Sonic Boom’s willingness to explain exactly what their company does is a testament to their confidence in their unique delivery.
- Mattke et al., “Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money?”
- “Our Programs,” Sonic Boom, 2017, http://www.sonicboomwellness.com/our-programs/.
- “Sonic Boom Wellness,” LinkedIn, n.d., https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/1494493/.
- “About,” Sonic Boom, 2017, http://www.sonicboomwellness.com/about/.