Wearable Safety Technology: A Human Centric Approach

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Wearable Safety Technology: A Human Centric Approach

Did you know that as many as 48 percent of workers are currently seeking or plan to seek a new job in the next three months? In recent years, researchers have found that staff retention rates are plummeting. In 2021, only 33 percent of workers said that they planned to stay in their current roles, a significant drop from the 47 percent who said the same in 2019.

Addressing turnover starts with a holistic view of people, looking at workers as whole human beings who choose to share just part of their life with the company. Finding ways to build genuine, meaningful relationships that go beyond money for services rendered; adding value to the lives of workers.  

However, 75 percent of turnover is preventable through implementing smart solutions. Wearable safety technology is one way in which organizations can address some of the preventable causes of employee turnover.  

So now you might be asking yourself what the preventable causes of employee turnover are and how wearable safety technology can help. The human factors that influence workers' decisions to leave can be roughly divided into three broad categories: the work, the environment and the growth potential of the work.  

The Work 

This is about the nature of the work itself. Companies who provide positions with clear expectations and flexibility whilst minimizing stress and burnout are more likely to retain their staff.  

Burnout is a pervasive issue. Studies show that 70 percent of workers suffer from it in their current role. In recent research from Deloitte, 42 percent of workers attributed burnout as the reason for leaving their job.

Today workers are also more concerned with the flexible nature of work than ever before, with 30 percent citing a lack of work flexibility as the reason for leaving their job.

The Environment 

This is about the company culture that surrounds workers. People want to be actively engaged in their work, involved in their team and recognized for their efforts.  

Research shows that companies who actively involve their workers have a 43 percent lower staff turnover rate. Fostering a strong mental and emotional connection between workers and their job, team and organization will maximize performance and minimize turnover. 

Studies also indicate only one in every three workers feel that they are regularly recognized for their achievements at work. Simply by shifting the focus of the work environment to positive reinforcement can go a long way toward reducing turnover. 

The Potential For Growth 

This is about investing in the growth and development of workers. People want to work for companies that provide them with opportunities for growth and development.  

Sixty-nine percent of workers who had a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stay with that organization for at least three years.

Companies that provide effective training have been found to have a 53 percent lower turnover rate.

Eighty-seven percent of millennials identified growth opportunities as the most important factor influencing job satisfaction.11 Seventy percent of workers from other generations agreed.

Despite the importance, a large proportion of workers say that their current organization does not provide them with growth opportunities.

The Impact of Wearable Safety Tech 

Investing in wearable safety technology that delivers on each of the three key areas that influence loyalty is one great, simple strategy for building better retention.  

AI-driven wearable technology is shaking things up, seeing organizations around the world weaving wearables into their processes and providing solutions to assist workers to learn more about their movements, understand them and help reduce their risk of injury—permanently. 

Designed to meet company objectives but built for workers, these small lightweight wearable devices alert of any hazardous movements that could lead to back or shoulder injuries. These alerts improve awareness and reduce the overall risk of injury. Track progress, complete training modules, analyze data and produce visually appealing reports through mobile apps and centralized dashboards to target and reduce ergonomic risk.  

Not only does this technology teach workers to move better, improve safety and reduce injuries but it also tics all the boxes for building better retention across the board. 

Safety wearables aid role clarity by giving workers purpose and direction as they focus on clear, achievable safety goals.  

It also reduces the likelihood of burnout, equipping workers with the tools they need to manage their own movement safety. The powerful AI in these devices can even identify the risks of injury from particular movements due to contributing factors such as fatigue, stress, pre-existing injury or distraction. 

Machine learning based on algorithms detect the quality of the movement. Even movements that are completed with correct posture may deteriorate in quality over a duration of time and the devices are smart enough to identify these changes.  

The safety of any given movement is assessed against a wide range of characteristics including velocity, jerkiness and bend angle, leading to a holistic, human centric approach that sees workers not only feeling less stressed at work but also outside of work.  

Wearable safety technology is designed with the end user in mind: the workers. These devices are built to foster flexibility, not inhibit it. The experience is unique to each worker that engages them in the process, with autonomy to follow and track their own progress, compare results with coworkers, complete in-app manual handling training tutorials at their own time and pace (increasing learning retention) and make sustainable changes to their behavior. 

It also provides an opportunity to build a positive work environment where employees genuinely feel like the company cares about their wellbeing.  

AI-driven wearable safety technology facilitates recognition. Providing management with easy to act on metrics highlights the strengths and achievements of workers. Create a human centric safety culture that champions people and builds confidence. Some developers have even incorporated gamification into their safety wearables, making the process even more engaging and genuinely fun.  

Actively encouraging improvement, safety wearables are an investment in the growth and development of workers. Wearables have the power to show a company commitment to workers and their growth. Providing growth opportunities that improve physical health benefits workers at work and at home. It is a commitment to their holistic personal health that adds genuine value and builds loyalty.  

In one simple investment, wearable safety technology addresses the work, the environment and the potential for growth, key underlying factors that influence loyalty. By focusing on worker health and wellbeing, a deeply human need, companies can build meaningful relationships with employees that lead to their long-term retention.  

This article originally appeared in the September 1, 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Anina-Marie Warrener is the Content Manager for Soter Analytics, a global safety science company producing AI-driven wearable solutions that reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries. Soter's current clients include Giant Eagle, Travis Perkins, UFA, Wincanton, Woolworths, Roy Hill. Anina-Marie has researched the impact and benefits of wearable safety technology and written for industry publications including ISHN, Insurance News, Safety Solutions and Open Access Government.

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