Companies are revamping their wellness programs to better suit the needs of their employees.
It’s official: wellness programs are no longer considered “just a fad” or a “nice thing to do.” Wellness programs aren’t new to the corporate world, but they are being reinvented. Employers are taking a more whole-person view of well-being, packaging programs based on career and life stages and giving more attention to the work environment itself by taking steps to ensure it promotes healthy behaviors.
In fact, the U.S. wellness industry is now worth nearly $8 billion. Employee health and well-being remains a growing business priority, proven to support the professional and personal development of your employees. Of the employers surveyed by The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans, more than half saw a decrease in absenteeism and 66 percent saw an increase in productivity when introducing wellness programs into their businesses.
To be sure you’re taking advantage of important wellness programs, you’ll want to keep abreast of the new health and well-being trends on the horizon in 2018. Here are five areas to keep an eye on.
#1 Financial Well-Being
Financial health will become a key component of wellness programs in 2018. Businesses will prioritize addressing employees’ money worries that cause stress or can aggravate mental health problems. Employers have a long way to go: according to a 2016 report from The Society for Human Resource Management, only 24 percent offered employees access to online financial advice and 22 percent provided group workshops.
And it’s affecting the bottom line. A recent PwC report estimated the cost of lost productivity caused by money concerns averages $3.3 million a year for a large business with 10,000 workers.
In addition to offering financial literacy and planning tools, employers can help workers be prepared for financial challenges by offering income protection insurance benefits. Long- and short-term disability, life, critical illness, and cancer coverage will become more important than ever before.
More employers will invest in wellness programs that contain education on the benefits of these products. Access to professional financial advice will also be made more readily available through online hubs, one-to-one meetings, and money management workshops.
#2 The Mental Health Day
That term used to be slang for slacking off, but no more. In fact, one CEO’s response to his employee taking a “mental health sick day” went viral in 2017 because it was surprisingly positive. In 2018, more employers will continue to realize the importance of cognitive self-care on their business’ bottom-line and the damaging effect of presenteeism, when staff are present but disengaged. The shift towards open acceptance of short-term paid time off for mental health support will continue to grow and be deemed a necessary way of reducing employee stress.
#3 You Are What You Eat
Given the worrying statistic that nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population has one or more chronic health conditions, companies will pay more attention to the food options made available to employees in the workplace.
Gen Z and millennials care more about healthy food than previous generations, so appealing to the tastes of the business leaders of tomorrow could prove to be a successful recruitment and retention tool. Get ahead of the curve and reassess your wellness programs, swapping products high in sugar, fat, and salt with healthier and affordable alternatives.
#4 Re-thinking Work Environments
One recent study shows the happiest employees have greater control over where and how they work. More businesses will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Bank of America and Deloitte by using data-collecting services such as Humanyze, which monitors employee movement, interaction, and management visibility. The aim of such products is to optimize office design so it’s tailored to improve the day-to-day workplace of your unique workforce.
Uptake in solutions such as hot-desking, non-fixed work devices, break-out areas for socializing, and quiet rooms for sleep and meditation will increase in response to the growing body of research on how surroundings affect mental and physical well-being.
#5 A Wearable Tech Boom
You might wince at the thought of investing in wearable technology company-wide, but given the fact that health care costs are rising for 79 percent of organizations, a preventive strategy is likely to pay off in the long run.
In fact, according to a recent Fitbit report, 35 percent of America’s Healthiest Employers already use wearable tech in their wellness programs, seeing a return on investment of $2 to $3 for every dollar spent.
Businesses will continue to enhance wellness programs in 2018, but more efforts will take place to capitalize on the further possible benefits of this wearables boom. This goes way beyond step count. Stress levels, sleep patterns, vital health signs like blood pressure and respiration will also start to become a key focus.
These more in-depth insights will allow employers to predict and respond to indications of health risks in advance. They’ll then be able to take the steps needed to prevent them from becoming a bigger problem, resulting in costly health insurance claims and long-term absences.
There’s no one right way when it comes to workplace well-being, and approaches differ across the corporate world. No matter what wellness programs you choose, it pays for employee health to be top of your agenda and to recognize the transformative role an effective wellness strategy can play in retaining staff and achieving your business goals.