What might employee wellness look like in 2018?

Gone are the days when all “employee wellness” meant was smoking cessation. This year saw the continuation of wellness programs becoming more nimble, robust, and supportive of a much wider range of employee needs. Progressive organizations now recognize that one size doesn’t fit all, and are adjusting accordingly so their employees can be healthier and more productive on the job. Whether the gears are already in motion at your workplace or you’re looking to start a wellness initiative from scratch, here are key trends to look out for in 2018:

  • Digital and customizable products and services. HR departments everywhere are digitizing their wellness programs because doing so allows them to reach their entire staff quickly and efficiently. It also enables them to provide a more personalized experience for each employee by giving them the flexibility to pick and choose which aspects of the program appeal to them most. For instance, an employee who doesn’t have children isn’t likely to care about parenting resources, but may be very interested in information on managing their diabetes. This, coupled with the rise of artificial intelligence, means employees can access specific resources anytime, anywhere, and get instant and accurate answers that are tailored to their questions. Gamification and wearable tech will keep growing in popularity, too, making it fun and interesting for employees to engage in the program.
  • Prioritization of mental health and sleep. With stress and depression being the leading causes of disability worldwide, HR can’t turn a blind eye to employee mental health anymore. Our society is facing what many call a “burnout epidemic,” caused by the fact that we’re working harder and longer hours than our bodies and minds can handle. Two of the most effective ways of preventing burnout are to take more breaks and to get better sleep. As a bonus, researchers have proven that sprinkling a little more down time throughout the day can also boost creativity and productivity. More organizations will therefore start to encourage their staff to get more sleep at night and make use of nap rooms, sleeping pods, and flextime.
  • Assistance with personal matters. Employers used to be wary of getting involved in the personal lives of their staff, but employees are now very receptive to the idea of HR helping out in certain personal situations. It’s broadly accepted that “wellness” no longer just applies to physical health; it also means financial and emotional health. As such, organizations will offer more resources that address wellness in the more holistic sense, for example, assisting student loan repayment, covering pet insurance, and offering child and eldercare support.
  • Onsite health and nutrition. That’s not to say physical health isn’t important anymore. In fact, employers are in a position to do more for their staff in this regard than ever before. Onsite massages, ergonomic furniture, and nutritious snacks and meals are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways organizations will further prioritize employee health.
  • Revamped vacation policies. Americans are notorious for not using their vacation time. Employees often feel too swamped to take time off, or are worried their colleagues will perceive them as not working hard enough. To address this problem, more HR teams will experiment with various policy changes such as offering travel-related bonuses instead of cash, preventing employees from carrying time over to the next year, and even mandating company-wide holidays.
  • Wellness for recruiting and retention. With millennials jumping from job to job every few years and competition for star talent becoming increasingly stiff, HR teams must find new methods of attracting and retaining skilled employees. Innovative wellness programs are an effective solution because employees are drawn to organizations that understand their needs. The more perks in a program (ex: learning and professional development opportunities, rewards for exceptional work, uplifting physical spaces, etc), the more enticing the company is. Organizations will flaunt these benefits as a recruiting tactic throughout the coming year.

How will you improve your wellness program in 2018?

If you’re interested in modernizing your wellness program, we provide a total well-being platform that has helped over 7 million employees and their loved ones take charge of their physical and mental health, finances, career growth, and a host of other topics. Our digital resources include nearly 2000 videos, podcasts, and tip sheets with advice from renowned experts, all of which your staff can access 24/7. To find out more, book a free demo today.