Workers expect both physical and mental well-being support now. What other changes can we expect in workplace wellness?
by Derek Goldberg
Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Aetna International
We’re seeing more companies investing in wellness programs paired with incentives to help keep their employees engaged. Come 2024, the APAC region can expect a corporate wellness market worth US$7.4 billion. Separately, studies have shown that companies neglecting corporate wellness across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and The Philippines had productivity losses totaling US$44.6 billion within a fiscal year.
Corporate well-being is increasingly entrenched in workplace cultures and strategies. A happier and healthier workforce enables higher productivity and job satisfaction. Healthier workplaces can also help to attract desirable talent into the stable and encourage employees to stay for the longer term.
These programs not only directly benefit the workforce, they also make corporations appealing to shareholders. The opposite is just as true — companies that neglect their employees are likely to bear the consequences publicly, with prominent examples facing immense pressure from shareholders and having to restructure C-level management.
So how can employers do better? Let’s first assess four upcoming trends in corporate wellness for 2019.
1. Increasing demand for overall well-being support
With the increased uptake of corporate well-being programs, both employers and staff are less skeptical about wellness concepts beyond physical health concerns, such as mental health issues resulting from work, and balancing job security with personal commitments. This trend has led to a growing demand for both health and wellness support from employers.
Corporations with well-being initiatives are also moving their budgets towards personalising these benefits. To budget effectively, studying the results of current programs would point out the best health outcomes for staff. It’s no longer unusual to see unique coverage for employees working in specific departments to boost productivity and profitability.
2. Diversification of support
We’re also transitioning from the conventional understanding of wellness — eating right, exercising more — towards integrating these components into a broader umbrella of holistic health.
More employers regard emotional and mental health as a necessary part of corporate well-being. Health insurance companies are also increasingly providing program add-ons that support holistic health from a mental, physical, and spiritual perspective.
3. More holistic measures of effectiveness
From an organisational perspective, employers want to lower employee turnover and improve performance. Two key data points help to gauge the effectiveness of corporate wellness programs.
Are we collecting the right data to show whether people are happier, healthier and more productive? And are we getting the right people on to the right programs?
The first component requires an analysis of an individual’s needs and involves defining personalised care at the right time. The second element measures their achievements against overall health goals, observing levels of productivity and absenteeism. Considered in totality, these measures can help employees feel more secure about their personal wellness even as they throw themselves into their work.
4. Personalisation of wellness support
Currently, corporate wellness programs are mostly personalised to the level of specific groups rather than individuals. This means individuals are enrolled in wellness programs with like-minded people and those with similar well-being issues. However, with more data from existing programs, we can move towards building solutions with increasingly bespoke aspects.
We recognise that some of these improvements can be forged through technology, collectively known as “wellness tech”. There are many digital wellness tools on the market, but for them to work effectively, they need to be entertaining, interactive and engaging — most importantly, meaningful to the individual.
Both companies and their service providers have a key role as educators and guides to ensure employers and employees are getting the very best from their healthcare provider.
Potential challenges as corporate wellness evolves
As an evolving concept, one new challenge would be proving the success of every personalised program. The outcomes from these tools are long-term or life-long, making it difficult to quantify specific successes from a health and healthcare standpoint. Companies want to know: ‘Is this wellness program actually reducing my costs?’
While we can measure engagement, satisfaction, even stress and blood pressure reduction, companies are seeking to find new methods to directly tie bespoke corporate well-being to claim cost avoidance. As we continue to explore these solutions to corporate wellness, we should be able to see a more defined measurement in the next five years.