Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Wearable Tech at Work: Why Recruiters Need to Pay Attention

Wearable technology has the potential to revolutionise recruiting. Devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Niki+ and Apple Watch can collect, analyse and share information about employees’ private lives, and the technological innovations are not going away anytime soon. A recent study predicts that the wearables market could be worth $71.23bn by 2021, compared to just under $30bn in 2016.

A recent PWC study on wearable technology in the workplace described wearable tech as having “the potential to unlock a new world of opportunity for both employers and employees, offering key information to understand and manage the workforce and increase employee engagement”.

Apps that were originally invented to record and analyse health, sleep quality, fatigue levels and location data, are now being used by employers to improve productivity and in some cases, monitor staff outside of work.

Why are companies using wearable tech?

Companies are using wearables for different reasons. In the United States, one of the biggest motivations is health. Many corporations want their employees to live cleaner lifestyles to help reduce absenteeism and improve productivity. By providing staff with wearable tech gadgets such as Fitbit, they can incentivise and nudge staff to exercise more. This is especially worthwhile if companies are responsible for their health insurance.

BP gives their North American workers Fitbits and provides lower-deductible health incentives if they meet their activity targets. When the staff’s ‘million step goal’ is reached, the employee becomes eligible for organisation’s premium health plan option. In 2015, 24,500 of their employees were using Fitbits and other companies are now following suit.

How can wearables be used effectively in recruiting?

Wearables will play an integral part of the future recruitment process and no more so than in one-to-one interviews. They can help record, analyse and assess a candidate’s performance after the event. By equipping themselves with a recording device, the interviewer will be able to retrospectively evaluate candidate’s responses to questions.

If you are interviewing all day, then it can be easy to forget important details about earlier candidates. By using a wearable device, the candidate’s body language and responses to questions can be properly analysed and this can help decide whether the candidate is a good fit or not.

1. Time management analysis

If your candidate is placed in a new contract role, then wearable watches (or ‘beacon enabled phones’) can keep track of your candidate’s time management. If they are inclined to go on extended lunch breaks, this could damage your reputation as a recruiter. Also, if a candidate is taking liberties during their trial period, then you know wherever you place them, their errant behaviour is likely to continue. 

2. Preventing injury

If dangerous conditions form part of your candidate’s job, then wearable tech could help prevent injuries and reduce the chances of them making compensation claims. In the transport sector, wearable devices can help monitor your candidates heart and respiratory rates, ensuring they are less likely to put themselves in life threatening situations.

3. Compliance with the law

While the potential for wearable tech is limitless, there are potential pitfalls for HR and recruiters to consider. Companies may want to monitor their staff’s data to review their productivity and make it part of the decision making process when it comes to hiring, firing and promoting candidates. Employees who suffer from health problems or a disability, could legally argue they are being discriminated against if they lose out to a more conventional candidate.

Employers will also have to ensure that staff’s wearables comply with protection and privacy laws. Wearable devices that use insecure Wi-Fi connections are also potentially subject to corporate espionage. Another risk is that a rogue employee could use wearable tech to extract confidential data and sell them to rival companies, record team meetings without consent, or intimidate or bully an innocent member of staff.

HR teams will have to ensure that all wearables are subject to strict legal policies, particularly for data protection, harassment and security reasons.

4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

HR will have to consider their personal and company data as more staff work on their own smartphones and tablets. With more staff using remote devices at work, companies will be obliged to write up contracts that explicitly state that disciplinary action will be taken against them if company and recruiter policies (such as BYOD) are not obeyed.

While it might be a few years before everyone is using recording devices at work, the wearable tech revolution is real and it will have a huge impact on the recruitment sector. From analysing a candidate’s performances in interviews, health insurance claims and privacy implications, the way we work is changing and the staffing industry needs to ensure it’s ready for the next challenge.