What's Hot and What's Not. Workplace Well-being Trends You Need to Know About

October 09 2018 / by Mari Ryan


Keeping up with trends that impact employee wellness and well-being programs can feel like a full-time job. There are numerous dimensions from which well-being is viewed, thereby requiring that a wide range of topics need to be considered.

In a recent conversation with Tom Ciccotti from Shortlister, we discussed recently released research that identified some of the trends driving worksite well-being program design. Shortlister conducted research with some of the top benefits consultants in the US. The research identifies employer’s preferences and buying behaviors.

What’s Hot?

The research revealed the following trends and innovations that are improving the effectiveness of corporate well-being programs:

  • Focus on well-being. The move from ‘wellness’ to ‘well-being’ is now mainstream. Many elements of what we have long considered to be the core of wellness programs, such as behavior change focused on physical activity, healthy eating and weight management aren’t dead yet. The more encompassing view of well-being includes aspects of the workplace culture, the built environment, and workplace policies.
  • Addition of ‘point solutions’. Point solutions are considered programs or technologies that target a particular topic or behavior. The trending topics here include: financial well-being, mental well-being (mindfulness, resilience, etc.), diabetes prevention and management programs, and tobacco cessation.
  • Mobile First Technology. It should be no surprise that employers want to meet their employees where they are. In this case, that means including mobile technologies. This allows for a single place for access to program resources, while providing opportunities for personalized communications.

What’s Not?

The research also inquired into areas where employers are placing less focus.

  • Implementing Outcomes Based Wellness Programs. The research revealed an aggressive decline in the use of outcomes-based wellness programs. Outcomes based wellness programs began to increase in popularity about six years ago. Since 2015, they have been showing a decline. During that time, where was very little, if any research to demonstrate that these programs were effective in helping employees achieve the target outcomes. Many employers may have come to the realization that it felt more punitive than supportive, and that those who would be unable to achieve the standard were not participating in any elements of the program.
  • Prioritizing Wellness/Well-being as a Business Objective. While many of us would like to think this has to remain a priority, the research showed that this declined from 2015 and 2016. The reason for the decline is increased competition for leadership and human resources attention. Possible distractions may include: employee engagement, pay equity, and inclusion and diversity initiatives. The good news, is the decline was small (73% in 2016 to 65% in 2017).

Keeping an eye on trends and innovations will help you develop your strategic plans with these in mind.

Topics: Worksite Wellness, Wellbeing, worksite wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, hr, employee well-being, human resources, workplace wellness, corporate wellness, trends

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.