As Israel is in the middle of another national lockdown it is worth reflecting on the fact that COVID has not only accelerated negative trends during this period. Most of the focus has been on the breakdown of healthcare systems, migration of populations from urban areas, and economic strain and instability. But if anything, the focus on health and wellness on the individual level and how institutions are now focusing on their employee’s wellbeing has been put in perspective as there is no line dividing life from work during the pandemic. The resulting focus on wellness is leading more organizations to devote resources to this area.
Corporate wellness, which is playing an outsized role during the pandemic, is defined as “a corporate wellness program is an employers’ approach towards achieving a healthy workplace by incorporating various wellness technologies within the daily work schedule to promote their employees’ wellbeing.” In addition, “creating wellness programs help in solving various workplace health risks arising from the consumption of unhealthy food and drinks, stress, lack of physical activity and more. The importance of having an employee wellness program at the workplace can also be linked to other aspects, which is — how much the employee gains from having wellness technologies in his organization.”
Corporate wellness is important during these times as COVID has caused corporate decision makers to understand the significance the immediate health of their workers has on an organization’s longevity. The fact is that it has become routine for corporations to think of their employee’s well-being as a way to further improve their performance. Gone are the days where corporations treated this issue in the past as an afterthought, as employee wellness is key to a healthy culture, employee satisfaction, and long-term employee retention.
A brief history
Of recent historical note it was during the 1950’s in the United States when wellness started to become a priority as a result of mental health challenges and alcohol abuse (which impacted workers’ performance). Much has developed over the last 70 odd years, and corporate wellness started to come into its own in the last 30 years. Over that time organizations have realized that it is in their interest to invest in the health of their workforce; it has not even been a tradeoff of long versus short term gain. The resulting worker productivity when workers are healthy has been fairly immediate.
As a snapshot example “employees at one company who took part in a free, voluntary wellness program saw their health improve and improved productivity by 10 percent — 11 percent among those with medical conditions. Most notably, already healthy workers whose health did not improve still boosted productivity by 6 percent.”
The positive impact of corporate wellness impacts not just the employee and their mental state, but also their sense of wellbeing and how they fit into the larger company culture. Corporates benefit from this as well; employee satisfaction and loyalty to the organizations are not small elements impacting an organization’s financial success. As this Harvard Business Review covers regarding a Fortune 500’s bottom line: “J&J’s leaders estimate that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.”
As health has been prioritized these days, corporate wellness is playing an even more important role in organizations. So much so that “the Virgin HealthMiles/Workforce survey found that about 87% of employees said they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.” The bar for attracting talent, in particular, has gotten even higher; millennials and Gen Z believe corporate wellness is a priority before they take a job. They understand that most of our waking hours are at work and the way an organization approaches an employee’s health speaks volumes about that company.
Examples of successful corporate wellness programs include Sonic Boom Wellness, a program which drives long-term behavior change by creating programs people want to take part in and Vitality Group, which provides employees with a personalized wellness journey that rewards daily engagement and creates long-term behavior change. Additionally, some of the wellness (tech focused) trends that have become standard are wellness programs giving their employees IoT connected devices, as well as employers’ use of fitness apps: “employers are upgrading tech knowledge to get familiar with their young workforce. Employees who can’t afford any fitness devices or subscriptions can find convenient premium offers to health apps or meditation apps.”
Even before COVID we were going through a changing period in understanding that working employees to the bone was not just an ineffective use of resources, but working against a company’s bottom line. A happy and healthy worker can get more done in less time than a stressed out, anxious worker who has to put in the hours for optics sake. Technology along with COVID have accelerated this change; large organizations that have traditionally been slow to move have recently started to adapt new tech in record time. Work from home and Zoom have also played a key part in further moving this along.
Startups have been playing a key role in how corporate wellness programs develop to meet the needs of a young workforce. Seatback is an example of an Israeli wellness startup focused on worker performance and offers a holistic wellness system which motivates teams to stay healthy by setting and achieving health goals and improving sitting quality. Seatback helps teams increase their ergonomic posture and health by guiding each individual along a personalized experience. Seatback integrates with smart watches which encourages teams to boost their physical activity levels, incorporate dynamic sitting, and achieve their best posture to optimize performance.
An example of another growing startup which offers a product for corporate wellness is Journey Meditation, and in particular Journey Corporate. The app bills itself as a “Peloton for meditation” and helps groups of employees meditate together. Meditation has become wildly popular among corporate wellness programs, for the simple fact that it is low cost (breathing is free), and an effective way for employees to manage stress.
A trend we will see corporate wellness programs further engaging with is mental health as there are concerns of a looming mental health crisis due to COVID. An example of a SaaS solution for tackling this challenge is LifeSpeak which offers video training sessions, podcasts, and other content which is curated and features experts, leading authors, and authorities on the topics of wellness and mental health. Kersh Health is a company dedicated to good health and as such are passionate about igniting this same dedication in others. They understand the challenges that come when choosing to live a healthier life and have created products and services so that everyone can lead a healthy lifestyle.
Corporate wellness will continue to play a key role in helping remote (and hybrid in-person office workers) manage the stresses and complexities of work during a pandemic. As such, their desire for innovative tech solutions will become a key part of their development and success.
Welltech1 invests in and accelerates wellness startups with the goal of increasing viability, seeking additional investment and connecting to global partners immersed in the wellness market. Welltech1 provides startups with the know-how to scale, a dedicated professional team of wellness experts, business advisors, and global partners a gateway to accessing the global $4.5 trillion wellness market. To learn more click here.