Workplace Well-being Trends 2017

February 01 2017 / by Mari Ryan

41874379_ml.jpgWe’re off and running in 2017. As we work with our clients partnering for healthier workplaces, we see changes afoot. Here is our take on what we see happening in healthy workplaces in 2017.

It’s all about the space
It’s time to think outside the box… or, rather, the cubicle. Creating space that is fun, interesting and promotes creativity is essential to attract and retain millennials. There are many different types of spaces that can encourage creativity and well-being: mediation, nap rooms or siesta pods, physical activity. Get a look as some of these spaces.

Speaking of space
Unless you are an architect or a general contractor of large office buildings, you may not have heard about the WELL Building Standard. But it is definitely something you should know about if your are making any changes to your physical workspace. This new standard is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. WELL measures attributes of buildings that impact occupant health by looking at seven factors: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

Sleep awareness
If you ever pulled an all-nighter in college or flew a red-eye, you know how important sleep can be. Increasingly research is showing that we are living in a world of sleep deprivation. This not only applies to the manufacturing or health care workers on the late-night shift, but also is now being tied to leadership effectiveness. McKinsey reported a clear link between leadership effectiveness and a good nights sleep.

 Mindful leadership
There has been a lot of buzz about mindfulness in the last couple of years. Meditators are coming out of the closet. Organizations are embracing mindfulness as an approach to run-away workplace stress. Increasingly senior leaders are finding their way to mindfulness practices. We applaud this and hope to see more of this in 2017. When senior leaders adopt new behaviors, they become role models for this behavior and that behavior tends to then trickle down in the organization.

Family friendly policies
When we survey our clients’ workforces, the number one reason for not participating in well-being programs is ‘time’. The demands of every day life are exhausting (quite literally) and especially so for caregivers and parents. Family friendly workplace policies make it easy for caregivers and parents to fulfill their work responsibilities while balancing those of their family. Policies such as flextime, parental leave, and breastfeeding all show that your organization is supporting the whole person.

Technology – there’s an app for that!
Technology is such a part of our life it is hard to image how we ever got along without it. Technology can support our personal well-being or diminish it. You can find an app for almost anything health related: weight loss, tobacco cessation, mindfulness, meditation, physical activity tracking, medication tracking, etc. Increasingly employees are choosing their own apps and bringing their own devices (BYOD), which creates numerous administrative headaches for workplace well-being program administrators. But since technology isn’t going away, creative solutions are needed to manage this.

Purpose – Individual and organizational
Tom Rath, Gallup researcher and author of “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements”, says it well “…we all need something to do, and ideally something to look forward to, when we wake up every day. What you spend your time doing each day shapes your identity…” Creating a work environment where employees feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves is what keeps people engaged. Being explicit in the workplace about the organization’s mission (not just making money) and how each employee contributes to that will go a long way to keep them motivated and engaged. At an organizational level, there is increasing research that shows that organizations that embrace passion and purpose outperform their peers.

Millennial influence
Today, millennials make up the largest percentage of the workforce, having surpassed both boomers and Gen Xers. The millennial generation is looking for a different type of work experience. They have portfolio careers or multiple gigs, rather than climbing the corporate ladder. They are seeking purpose and meaning in the work they are doing. And they are setting boundaries to make time for family and non-work interests.

Trends in worksite well-being shift as research emerges, giving us more insight into what creates real, lasting, healthy behavior change and thriving workplaces. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and let us keep you up to date in 2017!


Topics: Wellbeing, Worksite Culture

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.