In 2013, 2,000 firms gave employees fitness trackers, according to BBC. In 2014, that number went up to 10,000.
The oil and gas company BP has given out over 24,000 fitness trackers to its staff, and participants are given fitness goals of one, two or three million steps each year. And by 2016, the U.S. software firm Autodesk — another firm participating in a health challenge, according to BBC — predicts that most large companies will be giving out fitness trackers.
So, what’s going on?
Of course companies want their employees to be healthy, but they also have another incentive: a healthy staff means fewer sick days and increased productivity.
“A habit of regular exercise will help keep you mentally sharper throughout your entire life,” Robert Pozen, a Harvard professor and author of Extreme Productivity wrote in a Huffington Post blog, adding, “People who exercise might have more brain cells than their more sedentary peers — giving them a major advantage in the workplace.”
As for cutting down on sick days? One study found that people who participated in a daily exercise regimen saw a 40 to 50 precent reduction in respiratory infections, according to Breaking Muscle.
Another interesting point the BBC makes, and something anyone using a company-distributed activity tracker should be aware of, is that it strips employees of some privacy. Although both BP and Autodesk told BBC that they only have access to aggregated data — meaning they don’t have information on individual activity — it’s still worth noting.
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