With the wellness industry thriving it is unsurprising that most companies have started to jump on board the trend. However, with this has come a host of scepticism as to how health can actually be nurtured in a corporate environment or whether the whole trending initiative is leading employers up a blind alley signposted with false promises.
Advertisements of a stronger healthier workforce with less employee absence and a more positive work ethic has made employers trigger-happy to outsource various wellness programmes however after ticking the wellness box, little more seems to be done to evaluate the return of investment of such programmes either literally or in terms of added health value for employees.
Nonetheless, this isn’t to say that there aren’t benefits but moreover, that wellness programmes are perhaps not sufficiently implemented, evaluated or even tailored enough for workforces. Some employers have commented on the ineffect of programmes because employees are simply not taking up the opportunities provided – this isn’t a comment on the value of wellness initiatives as a whole – it instead indicates that the choice of programme hasn’t resonated with enough people.
So what is the solution? With so much available in the way of life coaches, fitness sessions, team days etcetera it’s extremely hard for employers to invest in singular initiatives that can have a large scale impact across a whole workforce.
To try and navigate around this, some companies in the US have gotten on board with wellness start-ups such as “iamyiam” which develops tailored employee wellness strategies by taking employee DNA and intensive questionnaires from each individual within a company. As can be expected, this has of course, met with a backlash of criticism as employees are unhappy to handover their unique biological information and this is fair enough as programmes such as this clearly cross the boundary between work and private life.
Therefore the answer seems pretty transparent. Why not invest in workshops that allow employees to tailor their own experiences? We all know ourselves better than a computer can tell us and so in order for us to feel healthier and more engaged, we know how best to achieve this. The purpose of the workshop being, that while employees may know what they need, they don’t always have time or the know-how in order to implement it.
The average adult can only concentrate on any given topic for twenty minutes consecutively, after which the mind inevitably wanders, and this is costly to companies as much of the 9-5 work-time is simply not spent productively. This is further exasperated when you factor in that many employees will have personal concerns such as bills, relationships etcetera, that will hinder their concentration at work. Workshops that focus on mind-set and the ability to focus the mind’s concentration could therefore be extremely beneficial to employees in all walks of life and will also prove beneficial for employers
Furthermore, a focus on an individual’s mind is a personal experience, that gives employees a sense of taking time to evaluate how they are feeling and thus simple practices such as this promotes a culture of personal value within a company.
Sickness and health complications cannot realistically be anticipated and nor can any wellness programmes entirely prevent them. However, mindful workshops can make significant steps to improve trigger factors such as stress. In various surveys, one of the core causes of smoking in adults is stress and employers are already well aware of the detrimental impact smoke breaks can collectively have on an employees productivity, when compared to a non-smoker. Therefore an initiative to root out and tackle the cause of smoking is surely a good investment. Further to this, bugs and viruses – while not directly caused by stress – usually take a toll on those whose immunities are lower of which stress can be a contributing factor.
There’s no algebraic formula (well not that we know of!) that can morph a workforce into a perpetual state of peak health and nor can any wellness scheme boast an ability to do this. Yet, it is still crucial that companies take the necessary steps towards promoting a healthy culture, especially in an age where due to technology the workday never truly ends. Therefore, employers or HR directors need to make informed decisions as to which programmes they invest time into, that target the aforementioned issues; offering tailored solutions that don’t intrude into personal life, solutions that can be adaptable depending on how much time and effort employees wish to put into them and solutions that fundamentally add value to a company.