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10 Workplace Wellness Trends for 2023

10 Workplace Wellness Trends for 2023

In recent years, the concept of "workplace wellness" has found a broader identity as employee “well-being." As we shift toward a more holistic idea of employee health, these are 10 trends to watch in 2023.

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Workplace wellness programs recently began gaining more momentum, as companies work to reinforce a healthy work culture to boost productivity, satisfaction, and predominantly, employee retention.

Organizations are facing a new wave of workplace wellness trends following the economic recession triggered by the pandemic. The changing dynamics have prompted major reforms to enforce positive company culture for employees to thrive, and for management to reduce employee turnover.

According to Qualtrics2022 Employee Experience Trends Report, employees have expressed a lower intent to stay at their current jobs, drastically dropping by 74% in 2021, and 66% in 2022 already. Millennials and Gen Zs share different workplace values and norms from previous generations, prioritizing mental wellbeing, equality, and opportunities, which explains the recent job fluctuations. In response, organizations are seeking ways to improve the employee experience and take a holistic approach to foster a strong workplace culture.

Workplace wellness focuses on enhancing different aspects of working life, from an organization’s environment and having a sense of belonging, to company policies and opportunities abetting the quality and consistency of work. The four primary pillars known as the backbone of corporate wellness programs explore the physical, social, emotional, and financial prospects of one’s health and wellbeing. Companies implementing such a model can effectively reinforce a thriving workforce for increased employee productivity, engagement, and hence, profitability.

Focus on prevention

This one should be on top of every organization’s list of workplace wellness trends to implement. Rather than only offering employees a range of wellness benefits reactively, companies should focus on prevention.

Because when done well, prevention results in employees that are well in the broadest sense of the word. Physically, mentally and even financially they are healthy and, by extension, happy.

Prevention, therefore, should be the starting point for employee wellbeing.

Organizations should strive to create a work environment where employees don’t find themselves working under so much stress to begin with.

There are countless preventative benefits employers can offer their people. Here’s just a small selection:

  • Train managers to identify (mental) health challenges
  • Adaptive workplace design (see also below)
  • Regular health check-ups
  • Ways to encourage people to be more active such as offering standing desks or activity trackers to raise awareness of physical activity
  • Workshops and/or counseling about for example healthy eating, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use, etc.  

And managers play an important role when it comes to prevention too.

After all, they are the ones able to check in with their team members regularly to ask them how they are doing, both mentally and physically. As such, they are probably also the first ones to notice when one of their people isn’t feeling well – and to help them take action straight away.  

Mental Health

During 2020, many faced abrupt layoffs, while others were forced to adjust to the inconsistent hours of working from home (WFH). According to a 2020 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Covid-19 pandemic eliminated some 81 million jobs in 2020. Workers and employers faced immense pressure, work-induced stress and anxiety, burnout, and a lingering sense of uncertainty for the future.

The deteriorating state of the labor market pushed companies to rethink long-term solutions for the wellbeing of their employees, and not just their physical health. Some of the major methods incorporated were introducing inclusive work culture, open communication, and most importantly, mental health benefits and policies. Implementing employee wellness initiatives brings numerous benefits, including reduced healthcare costs, a stable work environment, increased productivity and morale, and lower absenteeism.

Managers can determine employee mental health needs, and adjust wellness strategies to better suit their wellbeing goals. Hosting mental health events and seminars to promote self-care is another way to start a conversation within your organization.

Even before the pandemic struck, the vast majority of especially Gen Z and Millennial employees – respectively 91% and 85% – already said that employers should have a mental health work policy in place, according to a survey commissioned by Zapier.

There are workplace wellness apps for virtually everything. Solutions vary from single apps to entire workplace wellness platforms that cover physical and mental health.

  • Elevate. Our brain needs exercise too and that’s exactly what Elevate is here for. The app gives personalized brain training that happens in a game-like format.
  • Power Nap App. As a result of stress, insomnia may be on the rise. This app lets employees enjoy ‘the power of the power nap.’ It lets users set a timer for up to 30 minutes, provides relaxing sounds to fall asleep to, and has various alarm sounds that are pleasant to wake up to.
  • Health and wellbeing platforms such as Wellspace and Wellable.  

Holistic Wellbeing

This approach to happier, healthier employees focus on body, mind, social, and spirit. It is about recognizing that they are interconnected, and all have an influence on one another.

In the workplace, this translates to yoga classes, breathwork training, or even mental health consultations, all set up for employees to improve their wellbeing and happiness.

By viewing employee wellbeing as much more than simply “checking in” with colleagues, and undertaking holistic treatments like meditation and yoga, so much more can be achieved when it comes to health and happiness.

Employers who encourage their team to take up mindfulness practices and holistic activities can create a culture of health and openness to outside-the-box wellbeing strategies that ultimately lead to improved employee engagement and retention.

If you’re a Human Resources professional or leader, perhaps begin asking questions to your employees on the following topics (this way, you can create a clear strategy of holistic wellbeing in the workplace):

  • Sleep
  • Fitness
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mood tracking

Increase Workplace Flexibility

Witnessing the modern evolution of work, companies are attempting to find a “new normal” as they reevaluate their organizational structure and strategies, stepping into the post-pandemic future. Many businesses consider flexibility as an essential component to reinstate in the modern workplace, while others still struggle with the notion. However, one thing is certain- traditional practices will not work anymore.

A growing percentage of employees have expressed their preference for flexible work and work-from-home arrangements. According to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, 32% of the workers surveyed preferred to work from anywhere, 29% suggested working remotely full-time, while 23% chose a hybrid work arrangement.

While flexible work supports an improved work-life balance, it brings in additional benefits for a company: empowering employees with workplace autonomy, improving employee productivity and creativity, providing a sense of satisfaction, and fostering a healthy work culture.

Financial Wellness

Employee financial wellness has been on the agenda of employers for a while now. Financial wellness refers to a person’s overall financial health and the absence of money-related stress.

According to SHRM, financial stress results in a 34% increase in absenteeism and tardiness. Employees who worry about their finances also miss almost twice as many days per year compared to their colleagues who are money-worry-free.

All in all, companies lose a lot of money due to their employees’ financial stress. In the US alone, businesses miss out on $500 billion a year because of this. So why not implement benefits that help relieve this stress?

Financial wellness benefits can range from a couple of standalone perks to a complete financial wellness program, or anything in-between.

  • Workshops. A simple and relatively low-cost way to create a basic financial wellness program. You can invite regular guest speakers to run a workshop on topics such as budget planning, reducing (student) debt, or savings tactics. If you’re in a larger organization, you can also ask someone from your finance department to do a session.
  • Dedicated partnerships. Build a partnership with a company that specializes in employee financial planning.  
  • Financial wellness tools. Options go from tools that provide on-demand financial advising to custom training and e-learning to improve people’s financial knowledge and much more. LearnLux and MySecureAdvantage are just two examples of these kinds of tools.
  • Perks. Tuition fee reimbursements, contributions to employees’ student loan debt, and fertility and adoption assistance are just a few options.

Adapted workplace design

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has had a big impact on everybody’s workplace.

It’s thus no surprise that “adapted workplace design” is one of the top workplace wellness trends to watch out for this year. Organizations are rethinking their workplace design to ensure the safety of their employees.

And, according to a recent study, rightly so. 68% of employees globally do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings. This number is even higher for those working remotely, namely 75%.

What’s more, nearly one in four of those remote workers (23%) said they would rather start looking for a new job than return to a workplace that didn’t implement the necessary safety measures.

Since for many people, their homes have indeed become a part of the workplace, it’s important for organizations to look at how to better – and safely – facilitate their employees’ remote workplace.

What does adaptive workplace design look like?

Examples include:

  • Workplace design that helps ensure social distancing for those that desire it
  • Ensuring physical comfort and safety at the workplace
  • Shifting to an activity-based working (ABW) environment
  • Allocated budget for people to fit out a home office

Family wellness programs

Family wellness programs, you say? Yes!

Family wellness is especially relevant now with a lot of parents working from home.

Apart from Covid-related challenges, a person’s family tends to have a big impact on their health and wellness. Research shows for instance that 67% of men were likely to become more active if their partner also became active.

In other words, if an employee’s home life is healthy, happy, supportive, etc. this will positively affect their work life (and vice versa). As an added bonus, extending wellness benefits to your employees’ families shows them that you care about their well-being beyond the walls of the office.

Here are some of the things you can do to include family members in your employee wellness program:

  • Help with childcare arrangements. For instance, a childcare referral program.
  • Allowing flexible working arrangements. If an employee is homeschooling their child during the day, let them do their work in the evenings or early mornings, or split their working time, for example.
  • Add family-friendly challenges. Think of decreasing the amount of waste the family gathers or organizing family game nights.  
  • Organize (online) events for families and their kids. At Spotify, for example, they organize kids’ music experiences for their employees’ kids every two weeks.

Telemedicine

Employers are working to eliminate barriers and disparities that may prevent their staff members from seeking the healthcare they need. One way they’re doing this is by amending their employee benefits plans to cover health services through telemedicine.

That way, employees can get support from healthcare providers without having to worry about time-consuming trips to the doctor’s office and the danger of sitting in waiting rooms filled with potentially infectious patients.

If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s this It has shed light on additional ways for employers to help employees work better, happier and healthier.

Generational awareness

A one-size-fits-all approach will not achieve workplace wellness; each generation has its own values and priorities and, therefore, must be respected and approached differently. For reference, today’s workforce is composed of five different generations: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z.

For example, Boomers value health insurance and a retirement plan, Gen X prioritizes salary. At the same time, Millennials and Zoomers appreciate paid time off and control over when they work and from where.

Generational differences greatly impact employees’ experience in the workplace, so it’s imperative to personalize wellness in your organization.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

As leaders navigate the "Great Resignation" and a competitive talent market, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and wellbeing are top priorities and not just industry trends.

But many leaders are treating DEI and wellbeing as two distinct initiatives, despite the fact that they are fundamentally connected. You can't improve either in isolation, and leaders who attempt to do so are probably getting both wrong.

Organizations need wellbeing strategies that are equitable and inclusive of diverse employees, as well as comprehensive DEI initiatives that deliver a consistent employee experience for everyone. At the same time, leaders need to recognize that diverse employees' experiences and needs related to wellbeing can differ dramatically. No employee can do their best work if they are struggling with their health and wellbeing -- and their needs vary.

To fully meet the needs of every employee, leaders need to synchronize their DEI and wellbeing efforts.

Looking ahead to 2023...

This coming year, we will see much of the trends that have been bubbling up to the surface come into full action and be demanded from employees. Following the great resignation; job seekers, employees and freelancers hold power in requesting organizations support their overall wellbeing and freedom to work how they wish.

Wellness trends are now more than nice to have for corporate environments; they are a valuable currency in attracting and retaining staff.

Need more ideas? Use this free calendar with health observances and 4 activities to plan your health & wellbeing programs for 2023!



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