From sleeping at work to using standing desks, we take a look at some of the workplace health trends to keep an eye on in 2018.

Workplace health trends are increasing in popularity with the rise of mental health awareness. With 84 percent of employees having experienced physical, psychological, or behavioral symptoms of poor mental health, it is vital now more than ever that companies take note of workplace health trends that address unmet employee needs.

The following workplace health trends show promise for companies looking to support their employees with workplace programs.

Sleeping at Work

Sleep deprivation is one of the top issues in today’s workforce: according to one study, it costs U.S. employers about $411 billion annually. Research has also now shown the terrible effects sleep deprivation has on cognitive function and productivity.

As more information is produced on the matter, employers will increasingly focus on tackling the issue in the workplace as well. Sleep awareness and education programs, incentivising programs that track an employee’s sleep pattern, and even on-site nap rooms and sleep pods will all be made available in the workplace in efforts to give employees a break while boosting productivity.

Prioritizing Stress Reduction

One of the results of sleep deprivation is high stress levels. According to the World Health Organization, stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century. In fact, a study led by Laura Bridgewater, Associate Dean at the College of Life Sciences at Brigham Young University, found that stress can be as harmful to the body as an unhealthy diet.

Not only are these findings alarming, but their ripple effect can be found throughout society. The workplace is a prime example of this considering work-related stress has cost U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays.

As we noted earlier this year, one of the top trending employee perks focuses on addressing stress head-on. This trend will continue in 2018, with companies going beyond offering gym memberships or on-site fitness centers, by also turning to meditation and mindfulness. Those who already have done so found that both can sharpen focus and boost creativity.

Additionally, as mental health continues its journey to the forefront in our society, workplace health trends will continue to be shaped by it. HR departments will reshape themselves to offer mental health counseling, helping employees with conditions that can contribute to high stress levels, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and ADHD.

Aging Workforce

While employee fitness will remain a trend, employers also need to approach 2018 by considering how employees handle chronic conditions in the workplace. This is particularly true among the older employees as they “tend to have less-short term absence but they are more likely to have developed chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Adviser of Employment Relations at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

“Employers should factor this into workplace health and wellbeing programs,” she added.

The best way this trend can be addressed is by increasing health information available to employees to better reduce the risk of developing such conditions as they age. Additionally, companies should consider having more health screening initiatives.

Limiting Technology Use

The work culture has shifted in such a way that technology is heavily weaved into it, leaving many employees feeling like the boundaries around work and personal time have blurred. The need to keep up with work emails, even outside of work hours, has led employees feeling burned out.

If employers implement breaks during the day that require employees to step away from technology for a bit, they’ll be more inclined to do so. This is actually something workers should do on a daily basis considering high stress levels can also lead to burnout. Additionally, this workplace health trend is good for business because in doing so, companies a deeper understanding for their employees.

Personalizing Wellbeing

Technology seems to be a common factor among some of 2018’s workplace health trends, one of these being the personalization of corporate well-being programs. Through the use of digital platforms, apps, and wearable devices, companies can better meet employees’ preferences to have personalized experiences for their well being. Using technology platforms to store employee feedback will allow companies to effectively curate their recommended content or specific program offerings depending on the user.

This will help raise awareness among employees about specific conditions they may not have otherwise heard of, and encourage communication and connection between those who share similar health goals and interests. In other words, in this case technology will help cultivate a sense of community and camaraderie among colleagues.

Standing Desks

Sitting all day has become standard for the average office worker, despite it being called worse than smoking. Because of this, companies are now looking for ways to help employees get more movement in their everyday workplace routine. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, standing desks are the fastest growing workplace health trend in the U.S. This trend will continue its rise in prominence in 2018 as it is one of the easiest changes to implement.

Balancing Work and Personal Life

Much like the idea of limiting technology use, this healthcare trend is focused on drawing stronger boundaries between the workplace and an employee’s personal life. By working toward this, companies can further achieve their goal of making employees healthier, both mentally and physically.

“Employees want a good work-life balance, and we’re seeing more employers putting measures in place to accommodate this,” said Louise Aston, Director at Business in the Community. Perks such as unlimited holidays, wellbeing day allowances, and even flexible working schedules that can work around family issues are all being offered by companies prioritizing this trend.

As 2018 nears and companies look for ways to optimize employee output, workplace healthcare trends will be an area they need to keep their eye on, especially if they are looking to send a message to their employees that they want to contribute all they can not only to their health, but to living a high quality life. “If you want people to work really hard, you have to look after them,” added Paul Corcoran, Managing Director at Agent Marketing.