Employee Wellness Trends and Best Practices to Watch in 2018

Healthy employees are good business

Corporate healthcare has evolved far beyond a focus on contribution rates, copays and open enrollment season. In today’s workplace, FitBit activity competitions, meditation rooms and scheduled nap sessions have turned into an $8 billion industry. In turn, people expect their employers to offer programs that promote personal wellbeing.

Why are CEOs willing to foot the bill? The answer is simple: healthy and happy employees are good business. This year, we can expect conversations about executing successful wellness programs will be top of mind in the C-suite. Here are a few trends and best practices to watch:

 

Increasing movement toward comprehensive health

Traditionally, corporate healthcare has focused on covering costs for physical ailments and diseases. Companies are now taking a closer look at how other health issues—such as lack of sleep and mental health—may affect productivity. Research shows that symptoms of depression have a fivefold or greater increase in lost work time compared to those who aren’t depressed. In response, companies are helping to facilitate mindfulness exercises, designating office space for yoga, offering more flexible schedules, and encouraging naps at the office.

AI and machine coaching

More companies are using technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI), to provide customized content and encouraging “nudges” to help employees stay on track with their health goals. For example, Virgin Pulse has built integrations for Amazon’s Alexa to remind employees to go to bed on time or to walk after sitting at their desk for too long. Like a personal trainer or health coach, these devices can track habits over time and develop strategies that encourage good behavior. While this type of tracking may seem intrusive, the popularity of fitness trackers and virtual personal assistants shows this is well within many people’s comfort zones.

Wellness portals that engage and incentivize

In the ever-evolving world of wellness, it’s increasingly important for employees to have a one-stop-shop where they can access information on various wellness incentives and offerings. Moving beyond landing pages for healthcare and insurance information, these sites are emerging as a digital destination where employees can set goals, compare progress with colleagues, and track available rewards and incentives.

Non-traditional PTO

EEarlier this year, Madalyn Parker, a web developer in Michigan, took to Twitter to share the story of her colleagues’ reactions when she took sick leave for her mental well-being. Her post went viral and sparked a conversation challenging mental health stigmas and urging employers to implement stronger policies encouraging employees to take time off to recharge both mentally and physically.   

Healthy buildings

Another focus is how the physical design of a corporate office can boost the physical and mental health and well-being of its employees. Maximizing the use of daylight through larger and better positioned windows, providing high-quality indoor air and water through purification systems, promoting healthy foods and sustainable eating habits, and other traits can merit a company WELL Certification. Businesses who have embraced this approach are seeing results. According to one survey, 47 percent of companies have seen reduced healthcare costs, 56 percent report lower absenteeism, and 21 percent report higher employee productivity.

With businesses eager to recruit and retain the next generation of talent without breaking the bank, embracing healthy habits that appeal to workers while strengthening the bottom line is proving to be a fruitful trend. While the image of a 1950s worker might involve a three-martini lunch and smoking cigarettes in the office, today’s employees may take a yoga class over lunch or trade the afternoon soda for a smoothie. For employers, appealing to these sentiments without coming across as overbearing or intrusive may be a challenge, but it is clear that it’s one that companies are ready to tackle in 2018.

Employee Wellness Trends and Best Practices to Watch in 2018

Healthy employees are good business
Corporate healthcare has evolved far beyond a focus on contribution rates, copays and open enrollment season. In today’s workplace, FitBit activity competitions, meditation rooms and scheduled nap sessions have turned into an $8 billion industry. In turn, people expect their employers to offer programs that promote personal wellbeing.
Why are CEOs willing to foot the bill? The answer is simple: healthy and happy employees are good business. This year, we can expect conversations about executing successful wellness programs will be top of mind in the C-suite. Here are a few trends and best practices to watch:

 
Increasing movement toward comprehensive health
Traditionally, corporate healthcare has focused on covering costs for physical ailments and diseases. Companies are now taking …

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