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Why Fitbit Doesn't Do a Damn Thing For Wellness...

In case you missed it, Fitbit did an IPO this week and shares were up 48% in first day trading.

Fitbit is hot right?  Everyone loves the idea of employees wearing a device that makes them more active, and dreams of the contribution that reality will create towards the health of the workforce.

IPO. HR. Fitness. Technology.

It's enough to make me suggest this new tagline for Fitbit: "Fitbit's the S**t".  (that's trademarked, btw)

There's just this one little problem with Fitbit.  Some are saying that it really doesn't influence the people you need most to get off their butt and get in shape.  Consider this astute quote I heard this week from a CHRO in a company with 10K employees during a private conversation about healthcare spend:

"Well, Kris - I'll tell you the deal we learned about Fitbit.  We've got over 10K employees.  We've got 1K of those who are actively trying to use a Fitbit.  Here's the problem - about 965 of those were people who were already into fitness - they're already working to stay in shape, etc.  So I got 35 people to change their lifestyle?  That's great, but there's no impact to the bottom line of my healthcare cost."

Her response?  I need wellness with more of a focus on case management, not shiny items.

I love to run and I'm in decent shape.  I like tech.  But she's right - the early adopters to this device probably don't move the needle.  We need the other side to come over to make that work.

Fitbit can still be the ****.  It just won't make the person about to stroke out in your workforce change their lifestyle.


Michael D. Haberman

Fitbit is a measuring device, not a motivational device. It is not going to get you up out of your chair if you have no desire to get up. It is a good device for telling you what you have done. It is not going to force you to work on wellness. Anyone that thought it would is foolish.


Hey Mike -

Like the comment, but your ending is a bit harsh. Fitbit is actively being positioned as a wellness motivational tool. My HR leader isn't foolish, she's stating what you're stating as someone with a big healthcare tab...


David Berke

Fitbit probably is a "wellness motivational tool" - for those who are motivated in that direction.

Otherwise, it's like the treadmill that sits unused in the corner, except as a place to hang clothes.
Or the software program that could streamline some internal process - but only if people work at it.


Our company never rolled out a program focused on the Fitbit, but there are a number of teams who have informally adopted the Fitbit into their daily routine. In my observation,younger Fitbitters are just using their steps to feel less guilty about eating more Chipotle vs. actually taking and interest in their fitness. On the flipside, I've seen Fitbit bring to light to older populations that they aren't getting as much walking in as they thought pre-Fitbit.


Would the fit bit constitute as motivational if the employer provided a fit bit to each employee at no cost? And then incorporate the device into a wellness program (ex. X amount of steps at X date makes the employee eligible for a wellness discounted rate?)There's a lot more to it, but I can imagine that a fit bit can correlate with motivation depending on contributing factors.

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