Aetna surveyed over 4,000 employees in the US, UK, UAE and Singapore to garner the results, which also identified that over two thirds of those asked supported the provision of a smart watch or fitness tracker to benefit mental and physical health, and three quarters use or would use an app to help manage mental health. Additionally, 69 per cent believe access to physical health services (provided by their employer) through their phone would help them manage physical health better, with that figure rising to 75 per cent for mental health services.
“Technology has not only revolutionised how we collaborate, communicate and work, but also how organisations help support and improve employee health and wellbeing,” said Richard di Benedetto, President at Aetna International. “In the current climate, high-tech, high-touch corporate wellbeing strategies that include apps, devices, and virtual access to care services are high on the list of employee demands. Businesses have a significant opportunity to embrace technology and innovation and fundamentally change their values, culture and approach to employee health.”
However, the survey also highlighted that 64 per cent of employees worry that their employers having access to their personal health data could lead to biased promotions and salary grades. Sixty-seven per cent of employees also worried that their employer would share their personal health data with third parties, while 57 per cent were concerned that employers would share it with governments or institutions.
To this, di Benedetto reasoned that all employers are responsible for the privacy and protection of their employees’ health data, ensuring that individuals retain ownership and control. “Interestingly, our research shows that when data is used responsibly, many people are open to sharing anonymised health data,” he said, referencing the fact that 80 per cent of employees would willingly share their personal health data to help improve health and wellness benefits offered by the business. Further still, 74 per cent would be willing to do so if it helped their business offer more personalised health benefits, and 69 per cent of respondents would be willing to do so if it helped improve company culture.
“This suggests employees understand the powerful role technology can play in enabling and informing a business’s strategies,” said di Benedetto. “If handled correctly, it presents an incredible opportunity for employers to foster trust, and for all parties to help shape the corporate culture and approach to workforce health and wellbeing.”