4 Ways Wearable Tech Can Make Managers More Effective Wearables give companies data useful for everything from improving employee health to getting the right tools to the people who need them.

By Heather R. Huhman

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Wearables' could provide just what organizations need to improve performance: a better understanding of what makes workers tick.

More than three-quarters of wearable users have already seen improved business performance, and 86 percent of adopters plan to increase spending within the next year, a study conducted by Salesforce found. The study surveyed more than 500 wearable tech adopters from February 27 through March 1, 2015.

Data from wearables gives managers insight into what employees need to perform tasks more effectively, what motivates them and what keeps their spirits high. This information alone is powerful enough to drive engagement, a factor in business performance leaders constantly seek to improve.

Here are some ways to use wearables as tools to manage employees more efficiently and improve engagement:

1. Streamline customer interactions.

Currently, smartwatches hold the title as the device with the quickest adoption rate at the enterprise level. In fact, 62 percent are using, piloting or planning to use smartwatches at their company in the next two years, according to Salesforce.

Their popularity might in part have to due with the impact they've had on employee interactions with customers. For example, customer service representatives can deliver a VIP customer experience by wearing a smartwatch that alerts them of customer preferences to create a highly personalized experience.

Consider implementing a device such as a smartwatch to help employees give customers the best experience possible. A smart device can act as each employee's personal assistant and offer resources to help them do their job more effectively.

Related: The One Reason You Should Want to Buy a Smartwatch

2. Increase productivity and performance.

Productivity for people using wearable technology was found to increase 8.5 percent overall, according to research led by Dr. Chris Brauer at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. The study, called The Human Cloud At Work, examined 120 employees (40 participants and 80 peers) in March 2014 at Mindshare UK, a global media agency in London.

Study participants' notes pointed to a key factor in this increase: as participants' awareness of their own activity increased, so did their productivity.

"The benefits of wearing NeuroSky during my work day is that, on some level, this whole experiment at work made me more aware of my productivity," says a participant from Dr. Brauer's study.

Since not every enterprise has the budget to purchase NeuroSky devices for everyone in the office, an app alternative might be the answer. Use apps like Weekdone or iDoneThis to help increase employees' awareness of their productivity.

Related: Wearable Tech Is Improving Employee Productivity and Happiness

3. Increase employee support.

Workplace wearables do more than just increase a business's ROI. They can completely change the worker's experience, which in turn has been shown to increase job satisfaction.

Wearable devices can support employees by creating seamless daily on-site experiences. For example, employees can use devices like RFID badges and lanyards to manage access to restricted rooms and transact payments. These devices can also track traffic flow within areas at specific times, giving leadership insight to schedule more or less employees during those times.

Another popular wearable, smart glasses, has proven to be a helpful for supporting field service workers. They provide immediate information workers need to perform a complicated task. For example, using smart glasses, repairman can access technical diagrams to troubleshoot complicated projects.

Related: Will the Workplace Lead Wearable Technology Adoption?

4. Improve employee well-being.

Twentyone percent of U.K. consumers of working age currently use wearable tech, mainly for health and fitness purposes, according to a study by Vision Critical, analyzing responses from 2000 U.K. consumers in 2014. Additionally, a resounding 65 percent of study participants said these devices have enhanced their lives.

"What I have found, though, is that taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and collect yourself does help in those times when you feel overwhelmed; it recharges you," says a participant from Dr. Brauer's study.

Wearables make employee needs visible. Their metrics might reveal bad eating habits, poor sleeping patterns or anything else that might impede work performance. Having access to what was once invisible data allows leaders and employees to see and change behaviors if necessary.

Encourage employees to use an app like OfficeHealth to track time spent in front of the computer and remind them to take appropriate breaks. Wellness apps like this can help coach workers through mini exercises to help them recharge and feel more energized throughout the workday.

Related: Using Wearable Devices to Help Promote Employee Wellness

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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