Research shows employee well-being is linked to increased productivity, yet only a handful of companies know what employees want and how to implement it. This is expected, given corporate wellness is a young field and continues to evolve. Currently, wellness programs revolve around holistic well-being, technology integration, and personalized experiences. Here are some trends I anticipate in 2024.
#1 Corporate Wellness Strategy
The infrastructure and system need to be in place in order for a wellness program to work. Well-being is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Thinking like a scientist about your wellness program can increase your chances of success. Ask what employees want and listen to their feedback. Set a goal to direct your efforts and be willing to change when needed. The monthly strategy sessions I hold with my clients assess both quantitative and qualitative feedback. Our analysis helps minimize any choke points and leads to long-term success. Having a wellness strategy is key to finding the right fit and reduces wasted time and money.
#2 Embodied Leadership
I recently taught a class in person for a client, and David, the Director of HR, showed up. David has tried yoga once or twice but is far from a regular practitioner. About halfway through the class, I had everyone balance on one foot in a tree pose and joked, “Stay focused, y’all. The boss is here!” David quickly commented, “I can barely hold the pose myself!” The whole room burst into laughter.
By joining yoga, David made himself a human and demonstrated to everyone at the company that wellness is essential. When we momentarily remove our job titles and salaries, we connect on an intrinsic level. David isn’t immune to stress or tight hamstrings. His presence speaks volumes and embodies the support for wellness we need to see in leadership.
If you’re a leader, show you care by attending a session. Have the courage to do something new that you’re not good at in front of others. Give employees props for attending sessions. Allow time in the day for employees to participate in activities. Make it okay for employees to take care of themselves so they can take care of your company.
#3 Hybrid Wellness Programs
Further emergence of remote or hybrid work models will lead to more emphasis on hybrid wellness initiatives. Our happiest clients have a combination of onsite and virtual wellness options to help encourage physical activity and mental health among employees, whether in-office or remote. Onsite classes and events build a community and foster in-person connections for those who are more extroverted. Virtual classes help remote workers bond in a way that complements work meetings. Both options are valuable as they offer different benefits. Explore hybrid wellness program options.
Be the first to get corporate wellness updates and inspiration here!
#4 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Corporate Wellness
I am part of a female minority networking group, and many believe we must work harder and longer than anyone else to be recognized. This means staying at the desk, putting in long hours, and never taking a break to utilize wellness resources offered by the company. One colleague said that others have the privilege to get a massage during work hours, but she could never be seen doing that. This systemic issue could be resolved by incorporating DEI into your wellness strategy.
For starters, some low-hanging fruit for incorporating DEI is to partner with minority vendors. Purchase coffee from a black-owned like Dope Coffee to have in the office. Order food from a local, minority-owned restaurant for office parties. Partner with a minority yoga instructor or speaker for wellness services.
Our largest clients have employees in EMEA, JAPAC, and LATAM time zones. Each region celebrates different holidays, foods, activities, and music. To include everyone in the company’s wellness initiatives, each region has a designated wellness champion or ambassador who reports on behalf of their department or group. Custom requests may include yoga class to reggaeton, a Japanese-speaking instructor, or purchasing a team member’s artwork to hang in the community lounge.
Tailored events foster an inclusive work environment and are accessible for the company to implement or a well-being provider to fulfill. Having a more customized approach to wellness initiatives that considers diverse cultural backgrounds and individual needs will ensure programs are accessible and beneficial for everyone.
#5 Flexible Work Hours
A continued emphasis on flexible work hours, allowing employees to manage their time effectively, leads to reduced burnout and improved work-life balance. Being in the office improves organic connections and fosters ‘loose ties,” which are interactions with people you don’t know that well but could have a significant impact on your career. Loose ties may give you an idea or make an introduction for you. The benefit of working remotely is saving time on commuting and having more control over your environment and schedule.
Hybrid working is a new concept and requires structure from leadership. Companies with loose policies that don’t specify which days to come in create uncertainty. When an employee chooses to come in, there is no guarantee anyone else is there, and the experience deters them from returning. One of our clients sent a survey which showed that employees preferred to keep Mondays and Fridays remote. The company established two days a week onsite, with Wednesdays mandatory and Tuesdays or Thursdays the employee’s choice.
Finding a structured balance between onsite and remote work will continue to improve employee well-being and attract the younger generation of workers with new perspectives and ideas.
#6 Technology and Personalization
Enhanced use of technology-driven platforms aims to provide personalized wellness plans tailored to individual employee needs, considering factors like stress levels, work habits, and health data. Smartwatches and apps can track sleep and movement throughout the day. However, without context, these data can be misinterpreted. Sleep trackers may show someone waking up multiple times a night. Without the knowledge that this is normal sleep behavior, it can be misinterpreted as a poor night’s sleep. Just like a wellness program without a strategy, the blind use of technology can be one-dimensional or counterproductive.
These trends focus on customizing employees’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Employee health is foundational for productivity and satisfaction. As workplace dynamics and technology evolve, having a more comprehensive approach will be essential.
ZaaS offers corporate wellness program strategy and services to large organizations and B Corps worldwide. If you’re interested in a strategy session or services, get on the waitlist today.