According to The Future Workplace 2021 HR Sentiment survey and Forbes, 68% of HR leaders gave employee mental health and wellbeing a top priority rating. This survey also revealed that the corporate wellbeing market is expected to reach approximately $20.4 billion in the U.S. and is predicted to reach $87.4 billion over the next four years.
Based on these findings, investing in an employee wellness program is now essential for most, if not all, organizations. Below are five important reasons why.
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With 2022 just days away and the pandemic continuing to impact us all, even after it first began nearly two years ago, many may wonder what’s in store for the health and wellness industry in the New Year.
Based on my experiences as a certified health, wellness and fitness entrepreneur and professional and working with various individual and organizational clients and business development partners in this space, here are my predictions below.
- Mental health will continue to be prioritized: While people are being encouraged through their healthcare practitioners to manage their physical health through exercise and nutrition to protect their immune systems from Covid-19 and its variants, mental health has and will likely continue to have a major focus as well. According to a Gallup research study reported in the Washington Post, 60% of Americans feel daily stress and worry, and according to the American Psychological Association, 78% say Covid-19 has been a significant source of stress in their lives. Therefore, dealing with ongoing stress and anxiety will be extremely important. Tools like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, talking to family, friends and professionals and disconnecting from technology, could be very helpful in managing mental health. And many healthcare facilities, schools, universities, companies and other types of organizations will likely continue to provide these resources.
- Hybrid fitness is here to stay: As gyms and fitness studios have had to close, reopen and frequently change their protocols over the last two years, and the demand for livestream and on demand classes, wearable devices, mobile apps and home equipment has skyrocketed, hybrid fitness has gone from being a trendy buzzword and experiment to being the norm. Many consumers are mixing things up and taking in-person classes where appropriate and safe, and still continuing to leverage online technology and at-home options as well. The flexibility, convenience, mix of online and in-person communities and cost savings, have made hybrid fitness a surprise silver lining of the pandemic. And both online platforms and in-person studios are working hard to provide the right mix to meet their customers’ needs.
- Hybrid work is here to stay: Similarly to fitness, the workplace has undergone many changes as well. Many companies have transitioned to remote work models since the start of the pandemic and are still going strong. While some companies and other organizations have had employees come back to work, many are offering hybrid models now or will be in the future. While in-person collaboration is important for maintaining company culture and employee engagement, companies are realizing that employees prefer having flexibility and cutting down or cutting out commute times. They can also hire talent from any location and reduce real estate costs by having employees work remotely all the time or some of the time. Meeting employee needs and providing various options in these ever-changing times, is critical to retaining and hiring top talent and creating strong performance in the workplace.
- Disease prevention and management will take on a new level of importance: With Covid-19 impacting the health of our global population, the threat to those who are immunocompromised, is even greater. Therefore, for those with pre-existing conditions or who are at risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more, disease prevention and management is even more important now. Keeping up with healthy lifestyle choices such as stress management, taking medications, healthy eating, staying active, prioritizing sleep and scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor, will be critical to staying healthy and helping to protect against Covid-19.
- Organizations will continue to realize the importance of employee wellbeing: For many years, employee wellbeing has been a “nice-to-have” for many organizations. I’ve seen this first-hand, as I’ve worked in corporate wellness throughout the last several years. Budgets for corporate wellness initiatives have often been limited, and many organizations have prioritized other initiatives that can produce results that are easier to measure. However, the pandemic has created a shift in thinking. With so many employees experiencing high stress, burnout, a lack of work-life balance, anxiety and depression due to the uncertainty of these times, leaders will need to continue prioritizing the health, wellbeing and happiness of their workforce. They’ll have to consider the whole person and the many dimensions to their lives, which could serve them well personally and professionally.
While time will tell what 2022 will bring in the health and wellness industry, the best thing each of us can do is find the tools, support and resources to take care of our own health and wellbeing to not only survive, but thrive in the New Year!