Workplace Wellness

10 of the Most Important Wellness Topics for Employees Right Now

Written by Kate

The term “employee wellness” has taken on increased significance since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Many companies are still dealing with the post-pandemic impact on their bottom line which led to massive employee turnover. We’re also witnessing unprecedented globalization, with a geographically dispersed workforce. 

Today, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home and 28.2% in a hybrid work arrangement. Experts predict these figures will rise in coming years, with 32.6 million remote employees in America by 2025.

These arrangements have led to a wider adoption of workplace technologies, such as surveillance tools, to give employers some control. We’ve also witnessed broader automation and integration of artificial intelligence into various business processes.

While these developments are not entirely new, their impact on employee wellness has been enormous. On the negative side, these disruptions are more likely to exacerbate stress and anxiety, leading to reduced productivity, decreased employee morale, and low employee engagement.

The good news is that employers can mitigate the situation by implementing robust employee wellness programs that address employee well-being holistically. These need not be costly either. Companies can integrate low-cost employee wellness ideas into various aspects of their business that will have a high return on investment provided they focus on the most important and meaningful offerings. Here are the top 10 wellness topics for employees right now.

10 Of the Most Important Wellness Topics for Employees Right Now

1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

DEI has become an increasingly important wellness topic for employees in recent years and with good reason. According to Gallup, DEI and well-being are fundamental sides of the same coin. This means you can’t improve employee well-being without improving your DEI initiatives.

This makes sense considering a healthy workplace has diverse employees with wide-ranging needs. For example, 1 in 4 Black and Hispanic workers have faced race-based discrimination at work. Other employees have faced discrimination based on their gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, and many more. Discrimination leads to low job satisfaction, less employee engagement, and poor company image.

Creating an inclusive and equitable workplace involves dismantling systems and eliminating systemic biases, so it might take some time to get right. However, employers can take some steps in the right direction to reduce workplace stress and engage employees by weaving some inclusive offerings. 

Some employee wellness ideas to boost inclusivity include:

  • Installing gender-neutral bathrooms and training facilities
  • Recognizing and supporting employees with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other neurodivergent conditions
  • Offering sign language interpretation at conferences and other workplace events, etc.
diversity and inclusion is a wellness topic

2. Continuous Learning and Intellectual Wellness

We can’t talk about the modern workplace without talking about the current tech revolution sweeping across the globe. As of 2023, AI and machine learning technologies are two major wellness topics of concern. According to a recent report, “the global artificial intelligence market size is projected to grow from $515.31 billion in 2023 to $2,025.12 billion by 2030.”

While some believe this will only hasten a looming AI apocalypse, others are more optimistic about the future:

  • “We estimate that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms,” the World Economic Forum predicts.
  • “I think people are able to adapt quite quickly,” OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman testified during a Senate panel hearing on AI. “Like when Photoshop came onto the scene a long time ago, for a while people were really quite fooled by Photoshopped images and then pretty quickly realized images might be Photoshopped. This will be like that but on steroids.”

The bottom line is that AI and automation are here to stay, so we must figure out how to co-exist harmoniously. From reskilling to upskilling workers, the future belongs to those who prioritize ongoing education to prepare for what’s coming.

3. Continued Focus on Mental Health

Fifteen percent of the world’s working-age adults are affected by a mental health condition. From anxiety to depression to stress and poor cognitive function, mental health is one of the most pressing wellness topics for employees with severe repercussions.

For example, poor cognitive function can lead to an inability to concentrate at work, make decisions, or even retain memory. This can lead to poor productivity, prolonged absences from work, low employee morale, social anxiety, and burnout, among other problems.

mental wellness for employees

Prioritizing mental wellness starts with addressing internal and external factors that contribute to poor mental health. These include:

  • Personal financial difficulty                                                                        
  • Poor social interaction
  • Lack of inclusion and recognition
  • Personal development and growth
  • Unequal opportunity and unfair treatment at work

Survey employees regularly to gauge their well-being in the named areas. Potential solutions to help improve mental well-being include:

  • Flexible working hours and paid time off
  • Compassionate managerial approach
  • Promoting social engagement/ relational breaks
  • Implementing a wellbeing-centric design
  • Peer-to-peer support (mental health champions)
  • Foster a supportive and healthy environment in the workplace
  • Revamping your employee recognition program

4. Family and Parenting Support

The childcare and work challenge is a universal concern for working parents everywhere. In a recent survey, 20% of working parents reported they had left work or reduced their working hours for lack of childcare. That’s concerning because at least 1/3 of the workforce has a child under 14.

Eldercare is another often neglected aspect of wellness that employees are concerned about. According to an article in the SHRM, “1 in 6 employees in the US provide care to a relative or a friend.” This number will only grow with time as people become increasingly older thanks to modern medicine.

Offering wellness resources for parenting and family support, including child and elder care resources, is a great way to promote employee wellness. Other employee wellness program ideas include:

  • Helping managers identify employees with care giving challenges
  • Training managers to support caregivers
  • Encouraging C-suite executives to share their own caregiving experiences as a way to break the stigma surrounding the issue
  • Networking with local caregiving support services
  • Offering accommodations under the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Providing adult day care services onsite where possible
  • Subsidizing eldercare expenses for employees

5. Personalized Interventions

It’s been said before but it bears repeating: there’s no one-size-fits-all employee wellness program that will help your organization improve employee health. It’s important to remember that people are not monoliths. Everyone on your team has unique wellness goals, needs, feelings, and perspectives that affect their own wellness.

Encourage employees by creating a robust corporate wellness program tailored for overall health and wellness. Go beyond token webinars, smoking cessation programs, and gym memberships if you want to promote healthy behaviors. For example, you can invite mental health experts to create awareness about the relationship between healthy foods and mental well-being. However, that alone won’t solve an employee’s anxiety instantly.

Sustaining the momentum the talk created requires deliberate follow-up. For example, you can offer a workshop to help employees integrate the information they received during the talk and build some skills. Following that up with a longer course can allow the employees to reflect on their own journeys and use the lessons to acquire healthy habits.

Personalizing the wellness initiative with a day clinic or a health coaching program can encourage employees to own their mental health challenges. Offering a digital solution, e.g. an app, can also promote wellness and motivate employees to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

Also, ensure you invest in the most common employee wellness program ideas first. It’d be a shame to invest a lot in a course about healthy eating habits yet there aren’t healthy food choices in the workplace canteen.

6. Digital Solutions

Digitalization has improved our lives greatly over the last century. Now in the 4th industrial revolution, technology powers various facets of our corporate wellness initiatives.

Virtual Primary Care      

Virtual primary care subscription models, like One Medical, allow employees to consult with general physicians, specialists, or even nutritionists online. This ensures that routine health check-ups aren’t neglected because of time constraints or physical distance from a healthcare facility. They also ensure users aren’t locked out of quality medical care because they don’t have good medical insurance coverage.

Digital Therapy Sessions

Teletherapy and online counseling platforms have democratized mental health services. The convenience they offer not only eliminates geographical barriers but also offers a sense of privacy and convenience. They’ve also increased the choices available. From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to mindfulness sessions, digital platforms provide a range of therapeutic techniques tailored to individual needs.

Experiences as Offerings

Virtual wellness retreats became a popular solution for physical and mental health during the pandemic. However, they’re just as useful in the post-pandemic world, especially in fully remote or hybrid work arrangements. These immersive experiences can help employees deal with workplace stress, learn new skills, and connect with other remote employees.

Interactive workshops are another wellness offering to support employees. From financial health to virtual cooking, these wellness activities are great for team bonding and skill enhancement.

wellness platforms and workshops

Lastly, we have gamified wellness challenges that are perfectly tailored for physical health improvement. For example, steps challenges and board games on digital platforms make health a fun and communal activity. These, coupled with physically integrated wellness programs e.g. on-site fitness facilities, gym memberships, yoga rooms, etc., can help boost physical health and wellness among both remote employees and in-office workers.

7. Employee Autonomy

No one wants to be treated as an unfeeling machine no matter how much they earn. According to the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), most employee wellness programs fail because employees have no autonomy. Instead of encouraging employees to think and act independently, most workplaces are toxic because leaders want to micromanage.

Conversely, employees with more autonomy report higher job satisfaction, engagement, and overall well-being. From setting their own schedule to expanding duties when needed, employees with more freedom feel trusted. As a result, they’re more likely to offer their best at work and unlock their full potential.

Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell summed it well: “Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills us.”

8. Digital Wellness

The impact of tech on physical and mental health is one of the most pressing wellness topics for employees today. On the one hand, tech brings numerous benefits to workplace wellness. On the other hand, over-reliance on technology can be a challenge in itself. Some of the most obvious issues brought about by tech include screen fatigue, less physical activity, and reduced interpersonal connections.

Other problems include:

  • Mental and physical health issuesscreen addiction can impact an employee’s focus, sleep, and overall mental health. Social comparison can also increase feelings of inadequacy or jealousy, leading to decreased self-esteem and emotional health.
  • Privacy concerns – some employers use surveillance technology to monitor their employees and that can erode trust between the employer and the employee.
  • Information overload – the constant barrage of information can lead to stress, difficulty in decision-making, and reduced memory retention.
  • Multitasking pitfalls – Tech often encourages multitasking, which can reduce productivity and increase mistakes.

While we can’t do away with tech completely, employers can help reduce the negative impacts on employee well-being by implementing effective workplace wellness programs. For example, they can organize regular in-person or virtual team-building exercises as part of their corporate wellness programs. Alternatively, they can organize unplugged days or afternoons where employees are encouraged to work without digital devices or limit their use.

9. Holistic and Alternative Therapies

Like most trends, the need for holistic and alternative therapies became more apparent during the lockdowns. Surrounded by sickness and perhaps more awakened to their mortality, people started seeking alternative solutions to manage long-term health conditions at a cheaper cost.

According to Global View Research, “the alternative medicine market size was valued at USD 117,210.3 million in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.1% from 2023 to 2030.” As employees seek these complementary treatments, employers can help with organizing knowledge-sharing seminars or potential coverage for the treatments.

10. Sustainability (Ethical Business)

It’s not just the health and well-being of the population that most people are worried about. Eco-consciousness has increased over the past few years as well. In a recent American Psychological Association survey, 68% of respondents admitted to having at least a little eco-anxiety. Moreover, 47% of respondents aged 18-34 admitted they’re stressed about how climate change affects their daily life.

There’s also an increased demand for non-toxic and ethically sourced products that promote personal and planetary health. A 2023 report by NielsenIQ found that 24% of consumers want brands to increase their use of ingredients produced more sustainably.Employees expect the same. Forbes reports that 83% of workers think their employer isn’t doing enough to be more sustainable and tackle climate change. Additionally, 65% of respondents would gladly leave their current employer for one with robust environmental policies. The call is clear: employees are worried about the planet and they’re willing to do what it takes to make a difference.

Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, the success of your worksite wellness program boils down to one thing: suitability. How suitable is the program for individual employees in your workplace? Diving deep into the most pressing wellness topics for employees is the only way to create truly meaningful programs that cater to their needs. Such a program doesn’t just boost participation – it nurtures a healthier, more engaged, and more productive workforce. This in turn enhances employee satisfaction, fosters loyalty, and ultimately offers an impressive ROI.

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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