The world of health and wellness is always changing and the coming new year is no exception.
As more employers accept the reality that productivity is directly tied to the health of workers, we can expect to see an increase in workplace policies around employee wellness in 2017. In addition to the traditional return on investment companies look for, workplace wellness programs offer return on value and return on time toward the dual goals of recruiting and retaining talent. But wellness also needs to be relevant to both employees and employers.
Here are five workplace wellness trends to look out for in 2017:
1. Individualized wellness. We know there are almost as many ways to eat healthy or be physically active as there are people working in every company. Wellness programming will need to account for individuality in all aspects of its design – healthy eating, physical activity, health risk reduction, etc. Individualized and targeted wellness programming will become more prevalent in coming years as employees seek to go beyond generalizations and understand what healthy behaviours are required for them.
2. Athleisure dress codes. This is the latest buzz word in the world of “business casual” fashion; the combination of “athletic” and “leisure” wear. Employee awareness of the importance of fitness and being active continues to evolve as more employees work remotely some or all of the time. Employees seek better transitions from the gym, to the office, to a night out. As a result, many employers acknowledge that wellness does not start and stop in an hour at the gym and are adjusting their business or business casual dress codes accordingly.
3. Freelance workers. This emerging trend has created a new kind of diversity, with full-time permanent employees working alongside freelancers. As more companies hire “on-demand” to staff key roles, more freelancers and full-time workers will need to work together. With many freelancers working remotely, workplace wellness programs will need to be creative in order to include and promote health to full-time, part-time and freelance workers.
4. Hello generation Z! 2017 will see the arrival of gen Z in the workplace, with a new outlook on business, new compensation demands and a further widening of the technology gap between younger and older workers. In addition, both millennial and gen Z employees will be looking beyond the paycheque to put pressures on employers to transform the office environment, embrace flexible working and health benefits, and align the corporate interests with a meaningful charitable cause.
5. Financial wellness programming. Wellness programs have typically targeted active living, healthy eating and, to some degree, mindfulness. Now financial stress management is emerging as a key trend. All generations, from baby boomers to millennials to gen Z, are looking to their employers for financial wellness advice or support around a number of topics, such as retirement savings and the transition to retirement, educational debt repayment and home purchase strategies.
When companies are looking to recruit and retain happier, healthier employees who are sick less often and ultimately more productive, investing in workplace wellness and staying ahead of the curve in program design is a win-win.