Wellness Trends: Part 1 in the 6-Part Series
By now your corporate wellness goals, plans, and objectives for 2016 are in place. You have identified what’s critically important for your organization to accomplish in this New Year. This is a good time to check the pulse of those initiatives setting wellness trends, evaluate how you measure up, and implement refinements.
As of June 2015, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 70% of US employers offer employees general wellness programs – up 12% from 2008 – and 8% planned to introduce such programs in the next 12 months. On top of that, 80% of US employers provide wellness resources and information, with another 5% planning to add that benefit as well. All in all, wellness is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, and this trend will only continue in 2016.
Key Corporate Wellness Trends to Watch in 2016:
- Programs Fostering Emotional, Spiritual, and Social Wellbeing: According to Dr. Rajiv Kumar, founder and CEO of ShapeUp, organizations will increasingly expand or add programs that “nurture the emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of wellbeing.” This trend of mental wellbeing is already gaining traction in Silicon Valley and will likely spread to corporations across the country.
- Wellbeing Technologies: Health apps, activity devices, and other gamification tools will become increasingly popular in 2016. While many corporate fitness and wellness programs already use activity trackers, this trend is still on the rise, and in 2016 many companies will begin incorporating new technologies and applications. These new technologies are also aimed at drawing in younger generations, and will hopefully help improve employee participation in such wellness programs.
- Culture of Health at Work: New Global Wellness Institute research forecasts that the current “program” mentality in corporate wellness will soon die out. It is not working, and instead, 2016 will see the development of meaningful “cultures” of health at work. Company wellness will now attend to physical, emotional, and financial wellness and more. In addition to physical health, companies will increasingly encourage a healthier work/life balance by mandating vacations, making sure employees unplug from work, including families and virtual workers, and providing fair pay and healthy workspaces.
- Return on Value: In contrast to previous years, in 2016 45% of US employers expect to report their wellness program performance on a quarterly basis rather than yearly. As employers adopt analytics and predictive modeling with more complete data available, there will be an increased interest in validating and measuring their wellness vendors. For every $1 invested into wellness, there’s an average ROI of $1.50. But measuring the ROI of corporate wellness programs will continue to be difficult. Instead of obsessing over their ROI, companies may start measuring total “return-on-value” (ROV) – indeed, evidence says that happy, healthy workers actually reduce healthcare costs and drive recruitment, retention, and higher profits. According to Mike Tinney, CEO of Fitness Interactive Experience, “You can measure health improvement through biometric screening. You can measure engagement and retention. You can count calories and steps. But a hard ROI is challenging, because your biggest expense relating to health is insurance, and many external factors influence the cost of insurance coverage. If you’re willing to buy into the notion that a healthier human being is more efficient, sick less often, and happier, then investing in these programs for your employees (and yourself) makes a lot of sense.”
- More Sophisticated Wellness Programs: 11% of respondents in the SHRM survey revealed that they offer on-site massage therapy, which ties in with well overall health and wellness. According to Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM, “A lot of employers are finding that wellness programs are helping not only to encourage their employees to be healthier, which impacts healthcare costs, but create a sense of community within their organizations.” Employers who already offer wellness programs are getting more sophisticated in those offerings. As Jim Winkler, CIO of Aon Hewitt, said “Employers are increasingly understanding the connectivity between health benefits. Absence management programs, safety management programs, all those things are increasingly interconnected. You may see a wellness program that’s focused on reducing worker’s compensation claims, which is a space we’ve traditionally kept separate.”
This is a good time for corporate wellness, and 2016 will continue the improvements and advancements of the last few years. With programs nurturing spiritual and emotional wellbeing, incorporating new technologies, developing wellness cultures, measuring return-on-value, and offering ever more sophisticated wellness programs, the next twelve months will be valuable for wellness.
2016 is off to a great start, and we are glad to see wellness getting the full attention it deserves.