Employee health and wellness programs are moving from the realm of fringe benefits to being central to competitive strategy on several levels. More and more business leaders are finding that the well-being of employees is the foundation of an organization’s overall performance. Consequently, wellness programs are evolving from being extra perks to being cornerstones to many organizations’ business strategy. Here are four of the top health and wellness trends that will be hitting hard in 2019.
Increasingly, in all areas of business, we are finding that a one-size-fits-all approach actually ends up not working for anyone at all. Every organization’s demographics, goals, culture and vision are different. These factors can even vary from location to location of the same business. This means that each workplace has different perspectives on what constitutes wellness and varying health considerations. Consequently, the first step for creating an effective health and wellness program is identifying exactly what wellness means for your company and location, as well as what supportive measures that your specific employees need.
The needs and demands of the company need to be taken within the context of serving the whole employee. For example, a construction company is going to have inherent physical demands on a large portion of its workforce. So, the company’s wellness program needs to address fitness and safety. Meanwhile, a tech company that relies on intellect and innovation is going to place a larger emphasis on emotional intelligence.
2. Stress Management
Awareness of the significant impact that stress has on physical health is more prevalent than ever. However, it continues to be an issue with engagement, productivity and performance. A recent Gallup study found that about two-thirds of employees now experience work burnout from stress. A large contributor to this is the fact that our mobile devices make us readily available at all times.
Chronic, unmanaged stress can take a serious toll on health and mental well-being. Research indicates that chronic stress can trigger or worsen mental illness symptoms like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Work stress costs U.S. companies more than $300 billion annually in absenteeism, turnover and lower productivity, as well as medical, legal and insurance costs. There is also evidence that presenteeism can cost companies more than twice as much as absenteeism and medical costs combined. Presenteeism is when an employee goes to work but underperforms due to stress or illness.
Stress can cripple even the most efficient of organizations. Consequently, helping employees to be happier, healthier and more in control is paramount to achieving organizational goals.
3. Holistic Health and Wellness Programs
If you’re just looking to meet minimal health and wellness program requirements, then the methodology and approach is probably of little concern. However, happy, healthy employees are more engaged and productive, as well as have a greater sense of job satisfaction and purpose.
Research suggests that to attain the highest possible total level of well-being, health and wellness has to address eight different wellness factors.
4. Leadership Training in Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, or EQ (emotional quotient), allows you to identify and manage the emotions of those around you as well as your own, making it an essential characteristic of effective leaders. Leaders who focus on improving their EQ benefit from:
- Better communication with themselves, colleagues, employees, investors, board members and customers
- Better decision making from having more clarity and awareness
- Better leadership overall as compassion enables leaders to inspire, motivate, connect and lead.
Furthermore, leadership can’t address the eight factors of wellness without emotional intelligence. Leaders with high levels of EQ also shine as individuals and model that behavior for others in the organization.
Corporate health and wellness naturally rely on leadership EQ. A recent survey found that only 37 percent of workers think their company genuinely cares about their health and wellness. Also, employees with companies they felt cared for their health reported higher rates of engagement and job satisfaction, as well as lower stress.
Companies with a caring culture have leadership that actively promotes an open and honest environment, giving employees autonomy and opportunities to show initiative, while fostering personal and professional development on several levels.
Health and wellness aren’t simply employee benefits or cost-saving initiatives anymore. Companies that show genuine care and concern attract and retain top talent, while encouraging these employees to put their best foot forward. Consequently, the competitive edge is irrefutable. Employee wellness directly affects the bottom line, so your company is only as healthy as your workers.