We’re over halfway through 2019, and there has been huge growth in Workplace Wellness in these past seven months. Companies such as Spectrum Health, Zevo Health and Fitvision have ramped up their Workplace Wellness offerings. The IBEC KeepWell mark continues to attract more organisations and standards such as Healthy Place to Work are gaining interest from many companies.
But where is the area of Workplace Wellness heading now? How can we ensure that Workplace Wellness will continue to support the health & wellness of workers here in Ireland and not become simply a growth industry focussed on turning a profit? I’ve taken a look at what is happening internationally and nationally and have given my trend projections below.
Firstly, it is important to bear in mind that the top two health issues reported from workers have not changed much in the last few decades. MSDs (muscular-skeletal diseases) and SAD (stress, anxiety and depression) are always the top 2 issues. It is imperative then that any wellness program address these areas (ESRI, 2014)
Job stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent in 2015. (ESRI, 2018). Mindfulness practices are growing massively and are being backed up by neuroscience research (Heckenberg, Eddy, Kent, & Wright, 2018). BUT the programs need to be implemented properly, and mindfulness embedded in the workplace culture. For example, offering in-house mindfulness classes in the office, followed by high-stress and excessive demands when employees are back at their desks is unlikely to work. A healthy and proactive approach to stress and stress-management needs to run across an organisation – from top-down and bottom-up. As always, it is best to survey employees to find out what their needs are and also make employee wellness the responsibility of one of your organisation’s leaders. It is then you can affect real change in your company.
Companies such as Fitvision, for example, provide Workplace Wellness programs and offerings that are both personalised and flexible as they don’t believe in the “one size fits all” approach to wellness. They don’t tend to follow fads but work with evidence-based programs that are tried and tested and get results for their clients. On-site programs (or blended programs, which have an element of both online and offline) often have greater success rates and long-term positive results than online-only programs (Hockly, 2018). In today’s corporate environment, we often have 3-5 generations of people working in the same company and their needs vary hugely. Ensuring that people engage with the programs and increase their activity levels is crucial. For more on this topic, check out The Wellness Connection’s post on online versus offline.
Financial issues across different life stages can produce or exacerbate stress. Providing a Financial Fitness program gives employees the opportunity to ask questions and get information from an expert that they often don’t have the time to research themselves, or understand the financial needs that they want to have addressed (Verne, 2014). Companies such as Eolas Wellbeing provide this kind of program, which can be hugely beneficial to employees. Especially now that many financial institutions have automated a large number of their processes and it can be difficult to find a person to talk to about your financial affairs.
It is probably not surprising to learn that over 93% of Irish people own a Smartphone (Howard, Kehoe & Deloitte, 2018). Today’s world is highly digitised, and there is research to support that this has a significant impact on people’s mental and physical health (Madhav, Sherchand & Sherchan, 2017). Workplace wellness programs that offer a Digital Wellness element are rising in demand and wellness providers need to address this area. Companies such as my own, Quokka Wellness and Unplug provide training and programs on how to work happily and healthily in a digital age.
Smoking cessation programs
There are still a relatively high number of young adult smokers in Ireland (Ipsos MBRI, 2018). Programs such as HSE Quit, Marie Keating foundation and the Alan Carr method are the most popular on the market, and companies often receive support from their health insurers in smoking cessation programs. Offering these programs in your organisation, together with a no-judgement policy in the workplace, but at the same time implementing changes that ensure the environment is as unconducive to smoking as possible is the best approach. There is also the option to provide incentives to employees to quit (Van Den Brand, Dohmen, Van Schayck & Nagelhout, 2018).
If you would like to read more about how to prevent your workplace wellness program from failing, have a look at this post: https://www.wellsteps.com/blog/2018/01/07/corporate-health-and-wellness-programs/
Heckenberg, RA; Eddy, P; Kent, S; & Wright, BJ. (2018_. Do workplace-based mindfulness meditation programs improve physiological indices of stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 114, 62-71.
Hockly, Nicky. (2018). Blended Learning; ELT Journal, Volume 72, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 97–101.
Howard, R., Kehoe, J. and Deloitte. (2018). Mobile Consumer Survey 2018: The Irish Cut. Retrieved July 31st, 2019, from https://www2.deloitte.com/ie/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/global-mobile-consumer-survey0.html
Ipsos, MBRI (2018). HEALTHY IRELAND SURVEY 2018 Summary of Findings
Madhav, K. C., Sherchand, S. P., & Sherchan, S. (2017). Association between screen time
and depression among US adults. Preventive Medicine Reports, 8, 67-71.
Russell, Helen; Maître, Bertrand; & Watson, Dorothy, 2014. Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders, and Stress, Anxiety and Depression in Ireland. ESRI.
Russell, H., Maître, B., Watson, D., Fahey, E. (2018). Job stress and working conditions:
Ireland in comparative perspective — An analysis of the European Working Conditions survey. ESRI, 84.
Van Den Brand, F.; Dohmen, L.; Van Schayck, O.; & Nagelhout, G. (2018). ‘Secretly, it’s a competition’: A qualitative study investigating what helped employees quit smoking during a workplace smoking cessation group training programme with incentives).
Verne, J. (2014). Financial Wellness Programs to Reduce Employee Stress. Compensation & Benefits Review, 46(5-6), 304-308.).