While the last few years saw the demand for wellness programs become more real-time and impactful in a remote working environment, the coming year will push the boundaries of wellness even further.
Employee wellness is dynamic, constantly being reshaped by the pressures of changing employee expectations and rapidly evolving employee expectations. This proves challenging for companies. Wellness programs today don’t just have to cater to existing needs but also require to be forward-looking. By understanding the trends within employee wellness HR professionals can be better prepared.
A modern, employee-centric approach
Welcome to 2022; a year where employees are still reeling from the aftermath of the pandemic. Wellness programs today do more than just ensure employees remain healthy. They also help build the employer brand, promote engagement, and ensure people continue working with the company.
The potential benefits of a robust wellness program make it even more important for HR professionals to get it right. While the last few years saw the demand for wellness programs become more real-time and impactful in a remote working environment, the coming year will push the boundaries of wellness even further. What employees demand today is an approach that keeps them at the centre of wellness program design.
The pandemic brought about many changes and new ways of thinking, and companies are starting to realise that workplace wellness needs to go beyond addressing physical health conditions. The shift towards focusing on mental health issues, for example, has grown in recent years. Employees face increasing levels of social isolation, digital fatigue, and burnout in a world of work where boundaries between work and home have blurred. This has led to companies creating wellness programs that offer modern solutions to such issues.
Flexibility and personalisation
One of the biggest changes within wellness is going to be the personalisation of wellness and healthcare benefits. The one-size-fits-all approach is slowly on its way out and employees are demanding personalisation. Fuelled by the advent of digital tools, wellness programs need to be further personalised in the coming year. With remote and hybrid forms of work projected to dominate how we work, flexibility and personalization will be the name of the game for wellness programs.
For many, this need for personalization will include choosing relevant offerings not only for them but also for their family members. The pandemic highlighted the need among employees to balance work and personal life. Being a parent or being responsible to take care of family members puts extra pressure on employees' well-being, impacting their health and health-related expenditures.
For companies hoping to use robust wellness programs as a key part of their brands, it’ll be vital to create a basket of different options and offer employees the option to choose and craft their wellness programs. This could include options like flexible working arrangements, improved maternity and paternity leave, leave allowing for compassionate care etc. Personalisation should be an empowering process for the employee rather than just another tick-in-the-box activity.
For a lot of employees, the pandemic has been a period of self-evaluations and setting the right priorities. Labour market trends like the ‘Great Resignation’ resulted in employees leaving their companies en mass in search of better opportunities. These opportunities were in the form of better job satisfaction, higher pay, and in many cases a result of prioritizing self-care. Moving ahead in 2022, wellness programs prioritising self-care would be important.
For HR professionals, this means moving the marker of self-care from simple yoga and meditation manuals and providing gym memberships. They need to be a partner in their employee's health and well-being journey, helping them build the right habits and providing tools to take of themselves. By linking self-care with the larger trend of personal improvement, companies can ensure their employees get the best out of their wellness programs.
A focus on accessibility and inclusivity
When it comes to equitable access to wellness programs, HR professionals have to think closely about how they interact with and engage the employee. A multi-generational approach is required to ensure employees across the board feel included and empowered by the presence of employee wellness programs. A renewed focus on wellness programs has to translate into better employee well-being.
Today over 50 percent of the workforce comprises millennials. With a rising number of Gen Z employees joining the workforce every year, HR professionals need to pay close attention to how they design and execute their wellness programs to ensure adoption. While digital tools enable quick and efficient engagement, closer attention needs to be paid to how such tools are leveraged.
Rise of hybrid healthcare models
Just like work today is increasingly becoming hybrid, wellness programs need to follow suit. From allowing on-site health care checkups to real-time well-being resources, hybrid models of health care would prove important in the coming year.
We have already seen how a large percentage of the young working population today prefer mobile platforms. With the rise of hybrid work, wellness programs will have to be responsive to how companies change the way they work. Companies will continue to drive the evolution of the workforce, including how and where employees work. While currently digital tools are geared to address psychological and workplace well-being in remote or hybrid work, HR professionals need to figure out a better way to use them.