By Ann Wyatt, HealthFitness Vice President, Program Management & Engagement
Workplace wellbeing programs have grown leaps and bounds in recent years, with significant contributions being made by technology and fueled by a deeper national interest in health and well-being.
There are some exciting trends on the rise that we believe will help companies take their employer wellbeing programs to the next level, and even open up the possibility for corporate well-being “rookies” to dive in as the general focus of well-being initiatives expand beyond physical fitness. Here’s a look at four workplace well-being trends to watch in 2018.
1. Powered up personalization. It’s been well-documented that employees desire personalization in their corporate well-being programs, and companies will continue to get smarter about using digital platforms, apps and wearable devices to meet employees’ preferences to have personalized experiences for their wellbeing—whether they’re in the office, working remotely or on-the-go.
Housing wellbeing data on technology platforms will allow companies to more readily design a wellbeing experience for employees that matches their preferences and needs by allowing them to recommend content or specific program offerings, as well as fine-tune offerings based on employee interest.
This not only helps increase effectiveness and adoption rates, but will also support the awareness and communications issues currently at hand—one of the main barriers to adoption for employer wellbeing programs today is simply a lack of knowledge that such a program exists.
It’s not so much that technology will be replacing the live, human element of workplace wellbeing (think classes and health coaching), but enabling connections that weren’t otherwise possible (like linking colleagues with similar health goals and interests around the globe in to build camaraderie and support one another’s progress).
2. Addressing stress head-on. Companies are increasingly going beyond physical fitness to have a crack at key issues plaguing today’s workforce, such as stress. For the employer, stress translates to a loss in productivity and lack of engagement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. In fact, one recent study found that work-related stress costs U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays (some estimate it being $300B). Many companies are turning to meditation and mindfulness for help. Mindfulness has been said to boost creativity and sharpen focus—two things that employers are eager to retain in the “always-on” age.
3. Getting serious about sleep. Sleep deprivation is another issue plaguing today’s workforce. One RAND study estimates sleep deprivation costs U.S. employers roughly $411 billion annually. The pride some find in working all hours of the day and night is being squashed by research that highlights the terrible effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function and productivity.
Expect to see more employers tackling sleep deprivation head-on through sleep awareness and education programs, as well as incentive programs that track an employee’s sleep and provide points towards rewards for achieving set sleep goals. We’re also expecting to see employers make room for on-site nap rooms and sleep pods as a way to give employees a break and boost productivity.
4. Vending machines and desks 2.0. Aside from sleep pods and nap rooms, there are two other main onsite offerings we see booming in 2018. Might seem odd, but vending machines are making a comeback. But, we’re not talking about your average vending machine that’s filled with your favorite junk food indulgences. No, these machines are amped up with healthy options. We’re also seeing this in the consumer space with CVS experimenting with machines that are filled with vitamins and healthy snacks. Expect to see vending machines pop up in an office near you.
And the second onsite offering? Standing desks. Given the lifestyle of an average office worker—sitting all day with minimal breaks—has been called worse than smoking, employers are looking to help employees get a little more movement in their day even while they’re working.
Research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has called the standing desk the fastest growing employee benefit in the U.S. An added bonus for employers? These offerings are easy to implement and are exactly the types of perks that younger, health-minded workers are looking for when they walk through an office during the interview process.
We'd love to hear from you about what you envision as key wellbeing trends for the upcoming year. Please contact us to learn more.
About the author:
Ann is Vice President, Program Management & Engagement. She has 25 years of experience in the health management and fitness industry. Her role includes strategy development and driving engagement for new and existing health management and corporate fitness programs, employee recruiting and training, program quality assurance and operations management. Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Old Dominion University and a Master of Education in Exercise Physiology from Auburn University.