In order to be successful, wellness programs have always had to adapt to new technology and the needs of the company. Considering the life-changing events of the past year, it has arguably never been as important to stay on top of wellness trends, as it will be for 2021. There is no question that COVID-19 has caused a major shift in the workplace and its effects will more than likely continue to be felt in the coming year. For 2021, we anticipate four key trends:
- Dramatic shift to holistic wellness programming
- Greater reliance on technology
- Back-to-work post-COVID planning
- Reliance on business intelligence data
Employee Wellness Trends For 2021
Dramatic shift to holistic wellness programming
While wellness programs used to have a focus on the clinical and physical aspects of health, we have seen a slow shift toward holistic wellness over the past few years. Due to the unexpected change forced upon us with COVID, the transition to a well-rounded program has become even more urgent. It will continue to be more important than ever that wellness programs focus on the health of both mind and body. It looks as though the shift to remote working is not a temporary COVID trend, but may become a permanent staple, and thus, the importance of emphasizing work-life balance as a key program feature will be critical in 2021 and beyond.
Corporate wellness programs have relied on biometrics gathered through in-person health screenings to track the progress and overall health of the participants. We have already started to see employers lean into the idea of offering at-home test kits as an alternative. We predict that employers will shift away from traditional biometric screening offerings, and instead, allow employees to request and complete a variety of at-home test kits that don’t solely focus on the traditional lab values that you used to get at an onsite screening event. There are at-home test kits available for testing stress levels, allergies, essential hormone levels, and even COVID. By allowing employees to check on the areas that are concerning them, that may be outside of the traditional lab values, employers are providing a more comprehensive and well-being focused program.
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Greater reliance on technology
Technology has always been an integral part of wellness programs but COVID will force companies to rely on technology as the only way of monitoring their employees’ health. Before quarantine, you could get a general sense of an employee’s wellbeing through your in-office interactions. Now, it is tougher to gauge how your employees are doing.
Working from home will also mean that employers should alter the manner in which they deliver digital content that reaches their employees. Instead of lengthy articles, there will be a strong shift towards offering digital content that is easily watched or read in one to four minutes. People simply do not have the time or energy to read a long article or watch a lengthy video. The focus will be on providing relevant content on popular topics like healthy eating or reducing stress that get straight to the point.
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Back-to-work post-COVID planning
After months of quarantine and working from home, many people are wondering how companies will eventually transition back to in-office work once the threat of COVID lessens. While we’re still likely months away from being allowed to fully return to the workplace, it’s important for companies to start planning now as to how they are going to safely bring their employees together.
Just as every business has its own unique company culture, every back-to-work plan will need to be tailored to the individual office to fit the needs of its employees. There’s no cookie cutter approach and it’s best to start thinking about what makes sense for your workplace in advance. Employees, especially those with underlying health conditions that make them higher risk to COVID, are likely to feel anxious about returning to work and may worry about the safety of being around others.
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Reliance on business intelligence data
As we plan for 2021, companies should be prepared to spend significantly more time using data to gather insight into what their employees need from a wellness program, and using accurate knowledge to create a program that works for their workplace population.
Today’s business intelligence capabilities allow companies to go deeper than running reports, and to drill down to discover what their population needs to be successful. This includes looking at historical, current, and predictive views of data captured through screenings, HRA results and other data sources.
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There’s no doubt that this past year has tested people in ways that they never could have imagined, and the new year is likely going to continue to push people outside of their comfort zones while the world continues its fight against COVID.
By planning ahead with these four wellness trends in 2021 in mind, you’ll be better prepared to handle the challenges of the upcoming year.