5 corporate wellness trends for a post-pandemic worldCorporate health · May 11, 2021
The Canadian work landscape has changed dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — and corporate wellness programs must follow suit. Canadians have new priorities, new needs and new challenges, which employers have a large role in helping to solve.
With the expectation that a hybrid work-from-home/onsite model will continue indefinitely in many industries, employers now have the expanded responsibility of ensuring the wellbeing of its work-from-home employees. Flexible work schedules, child care programs and wellness check-ins are just the tip of the wellness iceberg; corporate wellness programs must evolve to encompass enhanced mental health support for all employees, meaningful engagement activities for work-from-home employees, and a change in benefits programs to meet people wherever they are on their health journeys.
Here are 5 corporate wellness trends to consider for your workforce in our post-pandemic world:
Robust mental health offerings. The mental health index by Morneau Shepell measured the impact of COVID-19 in Canada and found that a startling 80% of Canadians reported the pandemic had a negative effect on their mental health.1 Leaders need to re-evaluate their employees’ needs and adopt comprehensive programs that encourage physical and mental health, while providing resources and treatment for a variety of mental health issues, ranging from financial stress to insomnia to anxiety and depression.
Expanded technology-based fitness and wellness programming. A survey by Enterprise Technology Research predicted that the percentage of full-time remote workers will double in 2021.2 Creating a sense of community and a culture of wellness will continue to be an online effort for many corporations. Whether employees work on site or remotely, many are yearning for the “water-cooler effect”; connecting with co-workers informally to build relationships and share ideas. Employees working onsite will benefit from day-to-day co-worker contact, the ability to ask questions and informally discuss work situations. For remote workers, this task is more challenging. Employers should seek apps, online team challenges and virtual sessions such as fitness classes that include a post-activity chat session to bolster employee communication. Think cooking demonstrations, workshops, book clubs, gardening sessions, coffee break chats and craft clubs, which can help foster a feeling of community.
Flexible wellness spending accounts. Largely by necessity, employees have changed the way they consume wellness programs. Flexible wellness spending accounts are becoming the norm, allowing employees to access the health support they need now3. Instead of a gym membership, employees may choose to invest in home equipment or virtual personal training. Instead of massages, they may opt for nutrition counselling or a home-workstation ergonomic assessment. WFH employees may also seek wellness spending options such as claiming internet costs for streaming virtual programming.
Global wellness programs. The pandemic has shown that digital platforms can connect employees around the world. Corporations will now consider offering wellness programs enterprise-wide, to both remote and onsite workers, uniting employees in a way that did not exist pre-pandemic. A true global community will be achieved with employees in different countries enjoying the same virtual programs.
Top-down wellness initiatives. With the lines between work and home life blurred, wellness measures to minimize stress and promote health will be critical. Wellness initiatives are far more likely to succeed with management support and participation.4 Leaders set the tone by promoting wellness programs such as those mandating meeting-free-time-zones before 9:00am, between 12:00 and 1:00 pm and after 4:30pm, and ending meetings 10 minutes before the hour to encourage employees to take a movement break. Managers leading stretch breaks, taking part in internal fitness challenges, and sharing their own WFH coping strategies also sets a positive tone. Training managers to foster good relationships, encourage employees to take control of their health and continuously remind employees of the programs available to them through benefits and the EFAP can help lead to increased trust and, perhaps, employee retention.5