The New Face of Wellness: Trends of Today and Tomorrow
Jill DiGrappa – IMA Employee Benefits | Total Rewards Wellness Advisor
Workplace wellness is hot. The Global Wellness Institute confirms that the wellness industry is now one of the world’s fastest-growing, most resilient markets, valued at $3.72 trillion. And it makes perfect sense – we spend most of our weekday waking hours at work, so what company wouldn’t want you showing up feeling healthy, balanced, and energetic?
But how can wellness be so ablaze – aren’t biometric screenings and health questionnaires getting a bit stale? Not even close! Traditional wellness initiatives (health coaching, nutrition counseling, discounted gym memberships, weight management programs, tobacco cessation resources, etc.) are still going strong as more companies are realizing the benefits of incorporating these into their culture. The latest focus has expanded to total employee wellbeing (including financial, career, emotional, social, community, physical and spiritual wellbeing) vs. just physical wellness (broccoli and aerobics). Employers have also begun using wellness programs to increase overall employee engagement and to be an employer of choice since focusing on wellbeing in the workplace is pretty much the norm anymore.
As nearly every business and industry is experiencing today, technology is quickly changing how wellness is offered and digested. Experts are predicting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) software will become a prominent feature of wellness because AI can collect and analyze huge amounts of data to improve wellness initiatives while providing better personalization and rapid responses for employees. AI-powered chatbots could coach employees with questions regarding nutrition, disease management and overall healthy lifestyles – 24/7, on any mobile device. Virtual Reality (VR) is now being used to transform wellness experiences. Imagine slapping on some VR goggles, hopping on a spin bike, and instantly being transported to a ride in the Swiss Alps. Or being guided through a relaxing visual space to relieve stress or fall asleep quicker. But despite AI and VR’s growing popularity, the dichotomy between wellness and the negative effects of technology is concerning, and going back to basics with “real” and “authentic” human-led experiences have some potential to become a niche offering that vendors pitch.
So what does all of this mean? With wellness, really anything goes! Traditional offerings are continuing to become mainstream, new opportunities are being developed daily, and recent regulations are changing the way programs must remain compliant. All of this makes it challenging to navigate this space when employers have virtually limitless options, but having a well thought out and articulated wellness plan and strategy can help. Wellbeing isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept, and if we have the ability to discover where clients currently are within their wellness efforts, understand what their goals are, and we can strategize how best to help them reach the outcomes they desire.