Employee well-being has been a key part of modern-day talent management. Spurred during the pandemic, the last few years have seen it take newer shapes and forms. Yet the intent remains clear; to enable employees to take better care of themselves and ensure they have the right support structure within the organisation to improve holistic wellbeing.
Approaching 2024, many wellness, HR, and benefits professionals already find themselves going back to drawing board in a strategic planning mode for how to improve well-being initiatives. While each organisation must examine its data to understand employee needs, it’s also helpful to consider emerging trends in workforce well-being. To help HR leaders take a closer look at how the well-being landscape is slated to evolve, we explore the top trends that will be pivotal in 2024
Accessibility will continue to remain vital
With the growing complexity of hybrid work being a defining factor of 2023, accessibility of well-being initiatives will remain crucial. While return to work is a growing trend, flexibility remains a vital concern. With these trends further maturing in 2024, we will see a rise in the use of digital platforms, enabling the accessibility of well-being resources by employees.
Even as employers tweak existing programs with in-person wellness amenities and programs to address the maturing hybrid work models, those working remotely must have access to resources such as remote classes, digital apps, and telehealth providers. The rising mandate of return to work means that companies are required to address the needs of a diverse and distributed workforce.
Accessibility also links to the company's diversity and inclusivity initiatives, and as a company focuses on building a more diverse workforce, wellness initiatives need to be curated in a way that they remain accessible to everyone.
Personalization and Flexibility at the forefront
While personalisation has been a growing trend across much of the talent ecosystem, its relevance in the employee wellness landscape will grow more paramount in 2024. No longer is a one-size-fits-all approach impactful for a diverse, multicultural, multigenerational workforce. While wellness initiatives should retain certain key aspects universal to all employees, personalisations help companies tailor-make initiatives.
Well-being needs and priorities differ across the lines of gender, generation, culture etc. This, has an impact on how effectively companies can engage employees in their well-being programs. Reports show around 83 per cent of employees were less likely to fully participate in wellness activities. Offering personalised solutions is an important way for companies to address this issue in 2024.
For companies to build truly impactful and engaging well-being initiatives, finding the right balance between what are definite requirements for the company and then allowing personalised and flexible solutions will grow in demand. Using a mobile-first approach, partnering with companies that offer employees flexible options, and communicating the available options to choose from are all crucial to making personalisation a successful initiative.
Deliver on the holistic promise
Holistic needs of employees need to be addressed and wellbeing is one of the cornerstones of what employee wellness demands today. 2024 will bring with it shifts in employee preferences and lead to the further maturity of hybrid work. In such evolving times, well-being can no longer be simply defined in the narrow, traditional way.
Well-being today plays a far greater role than simply addressing the physician well-being needs of the workforce. Gartner's research asserts employees are looking to make changes in their lives that increase their sense of purpose and of feeling valued and connected. In 2024, well-being initiatives will have to address this growing concern by focusing on connections.
While companies have already begun looking at addressing a range of dimensions like physical, mental, and financial, to raise workforce wellbeing, 2024 will require them to further commit to holistic wellbeing. 2024 will see companies find ways to deliver better emotional and social health aspects while raising their ability to support their employees' financial wellness. With a role in how effectively companies can engage and retain their employees, delivering on the holistic well-being promise will be important for HR leaders.
AI in wellbeing
The world of work stands on the precipice of AI reshaping its every aspect. Well-being is no different. With Gen AI growing in its application, employee wellness will also soon see the use of AI in how employees interact with wellbeing initiatives and take care of their health.
It will help enhance HR leaders' ability to offer personalised wellness recommendations and by learning based on individual health data, will prove to be more impactful in improving well-being in 2024. From diet and exercise suggestions tailored to an employee's specific needs to AI-driven mental health chatbots offering immediate support, the potential of AI in enhancing employee well-being is vast and still unfolding.
While AI is bound to grow, HR leaders will have to explore how they manage sensitive employee well-being data and choose what data they record and what they don’t. While the use of AI will see a rise in 2024, HR leaders will have to bring employees on board and showcase its effectiveness to get a better buy-in.
Expanding focus on mental health, address burnout
India already tops the global list of countries reporting high digital exhaustion rates. Burnout also remains a key concern. According to the McKinsey Health Institute’s 2023 survey, "India respondents reported the highest rates of burnout symptoms at 59%"
With stress and exhaustion leading to bad health, wellbeing initiatives will need to address wellness challenges more holistically in 2024. Initiatives like scheduled breaks from screens, tech-free zones in workplaces, and even digital detox retreats will see a greater uptake as companies begin to focus on addressing burnout issues.