January 18, 2017

This year in wellness...

“New year, new me” is a motto many people will try to live by during the opening days of 2017. People are joining gyms, trying out new diet plans and setting achievable health goals. But, come March, a good number of folks will have abandoned their efforts. As we enter 2017, here are the five wellness trends that are not likely to lose momentum by second quarter, and just may help individuals stay on track with their personal health goals:

1. Corporate culture

A growing trend will be the emphasis on developing corporate culture to increase engagement in wellness programs and help employees sustain a healthy lifestyle. This means focusing on more than just the physical side of an employee’s wellbeing. Employers are embracing the concept of a holistic approach to wellness, including social and financial health, as well as a greater focus on one’s purpose in work and life. Employees and their employers will also get behind more community initiatives that will have a positive impact on total wellbeing. Developing a culture of shared values will create a positive company culture for your employees.

2. Incentives

Employers’ use of incentives to engage their workers in healthy actions will vary from one company to the next. Rather than piling on more money or raising the stakes for rewards, we are likely to see employers refine their incentive design to do a better job of piquing employees’ interests and rewarding progress towards personally meaningful health goals. Expect to see rewards offered to the providers and health professionals as well for the part they play in helping their clients achieve results. At the same time, employers will seek ways to inspire employees to be their best selves and celebrate successes through an increased emphasis on building intrinsic motivation.  

3. Multi-faceted approach

Wellness vendors will continue to address the challenge of reducing obesity and will likely take a multi-faceted approach with support groups, skills courses, counseling and coverage of medical procedures. Traditional weight loss programs and “Biggest Loser” competitions haven’t produced long-term results. People need to identify their “why” before they identify their ideal weight and need support to stay on course. It’s up to employers to expand the offer beyond providing subsides for gym memberships to cover the costs of a variety of services that fit the individual’s needs.

4. Education

Employers will integrate education initiatives to help their employees better understand their health benefits. Benefit advisors can facilitate bringing all vendor partners to the table to identify the best ways to address population health risks and improve employees’ use of services, such as telemedicine, health coaching and price transparency tools. This education will help employees make better decisions about their health care and establish better lifestyle habits.

5. Workplace workspace

Companies are recreating their workspaces. Employers recognize the value in providing employees flexibility to conduct business in an environment that inspires them to do their best work and live a healthy life. Access to nutritious foods, brighter lighting, collaborative spaces, quiet spaces as well as opportunities for movement or meditation throughout the workday are all ways to enhance a healthy and happy workplace.

These wellness trends will all carry over well into the New Year. We would like to see an improvement from physicians, nutritionists and other health professionals in the delivery of health and wellness support to employees and their families. We also hope employers, vendors and industry experts can collaborate to better measure the impact and value of wellness technologies and approaches to health and workplace culture.  

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