5. Will wearables lead to increased employee stress?
“In the most minor of cases, wearables may be a source of increased stress for employees, especially if their wearable pumps out constant reminders that intrude into their flow of tasks,” Spicer and Cederström said. “The consequences of this could be lower morale or reduced productivity.”
Perhaps the greatest concern is that a constant stream of personal data will provoke a feeling of guilt or anxiety around issues which had never been a worry in the past.
For example, constantly drawing attention to workers’ sleeping patterns may lead an employee to start panicking that their employer will notice they are suffering with minor sleep deprivation.
People may also feel anxious if they make an unhealthy lifestyle choice, such as dietary or fitness routines.
“This can be particularly concerning for people with existing underlying mental health problems,” said Spicer and Cederström. “One study of happiness trackers, for example, found that people with depression tended to feel worse after using a device that asked them a number of times throughout the day how happy they were.”
6. Are managers willing to become life coaches?
Typically, managers are used to dealing with employee performance through a mixture of performance measures. Spicer and Cederström warned that with the rise of wearable tech, managers could be forced to deal with an entire new data set.
As a result of this, managers could be left to face managing employees’ private lives as well as their work related performance. Consequently, employees could start looking to their boss for guidance about eating, exercising – even sleeping.
This could catalyse a managerial shift from job coach to life coach – a significant change in terms of what managers can (and should) do.
“Companies need to ask whether it is appropriate for managers to play a role in helping to manage their employees’ personal lives — if they’re willing to become a cross between Orwell’s Big Brother and Oprah Winfrey,” Spicer and Cederström said. “If they think it is, are managers in your firm actually willing and able to do this? And is this actually desirable for your organization?”