Business of Well-being

Five Trends Shaping Health and Wellness at the Workplace

Corporate wellness programs are a recent mega-trend impacting businesses of all sizes. Businesses are integrating wellness strategies to create an overall health enhancing work experience, as well as incentive programs to increase employee's participation and awareness in corporate wellness.

The pursuit for innovative ways to keep employees engaged in wellness programs is more important than ever before. Below are five trends helping shape health and wellness at the workplace:

Trend 1: Fitting It All In: LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT

Amid the weeknight rush to get home, make dinner, help the kids with homework, do housework and get to bed at a decent hour, finding time for a workout or doctor visit seems nearly impossible. Work is a great place to integrate lifestyle-based healthy habits to fit it all into the day.

Efforts such as biometric screenings, flu shots and cholesterol screenings in the workplace help prevent the risks for common, yet dangerous, health problems including diabetes, stroke and coronary disease. Companies are also teaching sleep management to help employees balance life both day and night.

Employees can receive various types of incentives like gift cards or insurance premium discounts for participating in company wellness programs, which includes regular, preventative medical appointments.

Trend 2: Balancing Work and Waist: WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS

Weight loss management at work is growing rapidly as many companies now offer free yoga, Zumba classes or individual workouts onsite or at a nearby facility to make fitness opportunities more accessible. Employees develop a sense of teamwork and camaraderie by encouraging each other to attend regular workout sessions.

Alongside exercise, balancing a healthy diet in the workplace is also an essential part of weight management. Companies are starting to transform their worksites to focus on weight loss by including vending machine options with fresh, healthy snacks, as well as fruit and veggies at meetings instead of donuts.

By offering a variety of fitness regimens and healthy food options, employees get the opportunity to try several options to find the best fit for their healthy lifestyle. The more convenient healthy options are, the more likely people will be able to try it and continue to participate for the long haul.

Trend 3: Integrate Fitness: REDESIGN WORKSPACE

Rethink office design by integrating physical fitness into daily work activities to encourage workers to become healthier. A variety of office design options help encourage activity including a desk outfitted with an exercise ball instead of a chair, standing or treadmill workstations, anti-fatigue mats for employees to stand on while they work, ergonomic telephone headsets and keyboards and hand grippers, wobble boards and pedometers.

BodyBugg and FitBit wireless personal trainers are also ways to integrate fitness all day by accurately tracking calories burned, steps taken, walking distance, etc. These small adjustments to the workspace help employees get in the mindset of fitness from the minute they arrive at their workstations until it becomes ingrained in their behaviors.

Trend 4: Breathe Well: SMOKING CESSATION

While it's not a new trend in corporate wellness, smoking cessation programs are often a wise investment.  These programs foster a healthier workforce and are viewed by many as a necessity that provides a direct correlation with good health.

To increase chances of quitting smoking, employees need motivation, social support, an understanding of what to expect and a personal game plan. Some companies are executing smoke-free campuses and going so far as implementing "no hire" policies for smokers.

Trend 5: Control Daily Pressures: STRESS MANAGEMENT

Physical fitness has proven to decrease stress and increase energy. However, mental fitness is increasingly being recognized as an equally important trend. Stress management programs recognize that dedicating a short time every day to your mental fitness through volunteering, journal writing or even daydreaming will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident.

Meditation is also used as a daily tool to help with stress and is one of the strongest efforts being used to manage daily pressures. Leading companies are including meditation instruction as part of stress reduction programs to help people learn this valuable tool.

BONUS TIP: A Healthy Mix of Social Networking

Wellness programs can implement the ever-growing trend of social media by utilizing social networks to get people on track toward improving their health. Creating social networks, mobile apps and online engagement help motivate employees to participate in your health and wellness programs. The more employees engage with your programs, the greater the impact.

When incorporating these trends, adding incentives - such as gift cards or vacations - will motivate employees to participate in wellness programs and improve awareness of their overall health.

According to a 2010 internal survey by a leading healthcare company, 93.3 percent of responders agreed that gift card rewards improved their satisfaction with their company's wellness program. One employee stated, "It was great to really consider my health and the conditions and decisions that affect my well-being.

The gift card was the motivating factor, but the true benefit was thinking about ways to improve my health. "Sitting behind a desk all day is not conducive to health and wellness. It's important to give the body and brain a break to recharge by engaging in these health trends that encourage and demonstrate wellness as a valuable part of work life.

Corporate wellness programs create both lower health insurance premiums for the company, and healthier, more productive employees. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

About The Author

Jennifer Patel leads the health & wellness team for Hallmark Business Connections, providing strategy, vision, design and implementation for incentive and worksite wellness programs for wide variety of businesses from the Fortune 50 to 500. Jennifer is a graduate of Augsburg College, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a BA in Speech Communications.

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