Workplace health and wellness - runners

Photo via Mario Mencacci, Flickr

Workplace health and wellness has been a hot topic in recent years, and the way businesses foster wellness continues to evolve. So what’s trending in 2015 that you should know? What’s right for your business?

Studies show that healthier employees make for a stronger business. In an article for The Center for Association Leadership, “The Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs,” contributor  Jacqui Cook writes:

“If you’re looking to build a workplace with more staff camaraderie, greater productivity, and less absenteeism, an organization-wide wellness initiative can help you get there. And the gravy? Lower insurance costs.”

One trend Brian Shapland, general manager of turnstone, a Steelcase office furniture brand, cites in “5 Workplace wellness trends of 2015,” is that:

“Professionals, particularly Millennials, are saying no thanks to remaining tethered to a workstation for 8 hours a day—they’re looking for a culture of choice and control, and business leaders are taking notice.”

He believes this wave of influence will inform workplace wellness trends in 2015 and beyond. Businesses will make employee wellbeing a priority, he writes, including:

Giving employees the opportunity to change postures throughout the day.

“It’s not just considerate, it’s smart. A well-designed palette of postures includes offering walk stations, height-adjustable desks, and active seats, like turnstone’s Buoy, designed to offset some of the risks associated with remaining sedentary.

Providing nutritious snacks and water make it easy for employees to refuel throughout the day, short-circuiting default plans to hit the vending machine or drive-thru.”

Companies will encourage moving vs. sitting

We’ve all seen the headlines: Our society needs to move more. Staying active keeps blood flowing, improves brain activity, and contributes to overall wellbeing. To add more movement to your day, consider scheduling walking meetings, using a wireless phone to get up and walk while on a call, or holding company fitness competitions by giving out pedometers and challenging employees to take more steps than their coworkers. By intentionally baking-in time to get up and move, you’ll not only do your own body good, but will model a healthy lifestyle for your team.

Marty Nemko, author, and career and personal coach, in “The Biggest Workplace and Career Predictions for 2015,” foresees:

More workplace health and wellness programs

“For example, wellness apps such as GetHealth provide employees with, for instance, peer support and prizes for exercising more and for losing weight, perhaps including a competition between work groups.”

And the health care solutions firm Cerner’s website lists “2015 Worksite Wellness Trends”:

Compliance with the Affordable Care Act

“This regulation requires large employers to have compliant health plans in 2015 or they must pay a fine. Businesses with 50 to 99 workers have until 2016. Roger Kaltefleiter, Cerner’s vice president of benefit administration recommends organizations make good-faith efforts to comply with the law, no matter how confusing it may be. Good sponsors want to avoid being the test case when it comes to compliance, he observes. In other words, avoid being the first bad example.”

The Continued Rise of High-deductible Health Care Plans (HDHP)

“The media consider these the Jekyll and Hyde of the insurance world. They free consumers from high premiums, but can ravage a person’s finances when illness or injury strikes. A survey by Bankrate.com found that more than 40% of Americans say they prefer HDHPs and nearly 20% of employers switched from traditional health insurance plans to HDHPs in 2013.

To ease the risk, some organizations are adding additional voluntary benefit plans, which can cover unexpected health care costs, such as illness or accidents.  However, these require education so that employers and employees can properly understand their use and value.”

Integrating Personal Technology and Social Networking

“A plethora of Fitbit-type fitness trackers  are now available, and when mixed with social networking and mobile devices, these technologies can provide significant incentives to engage in, and stick with, healthier activities. More than 13 million wearable tracking devices are expected to be incorporated into wellness programs within the next five years.

And as options such as flextime and telecommuting grow more popular, instead of creating a workforce that is easily distracted or slacks off with no manager oversight, employees don’t know when to power down. For the wellness program manager or HR specialist, it’s slightly more difficult to provide a program that’s accessible, engaging and effective for all employees: whether they’re traveling, working in different locations, or working remotely. As a result, organizations should use multiple communication channels and provide plenty of online information and tools for employees on-the-go.”

Good health is good business, and as the very definition of a workplace shifts, business leaders need to be creative to make wellness programs accessible to all workers.

For a comprehensive guide to growing your workplace’s culture of health and happiness, download our FREE eBook: Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.
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