The global wellness industry is growing at a historical rate at this moment. Between 2015 and 2017 the growth was almost 12.8%, which made wellness a $4.2 sector. So, if you are finding everyone around you adopting a healthy diet, a new pair of running shoes or getting a Gym membership, do not get alarmed.
As the wellness industry expanding around the globe, the spending on corporate wellness programs are also increasing: It is currently estimated at $53 billion globally and expected to grow around USD 86 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of around 7.0%. As healthcare is becoming more and more expensive and productivity is going down, corporate decision makers are expressing more interest in corporate wellness programs to improve employee engagement.
Although the whole corporate world is shifting towards this new trend, it is still not considered as something that the management wants to get involved with. Instead, they pass the responsibility to the employees. The sends a message that sounds like; we know that you have an issue, and since we are well-informed employers, we have some solutions that you can use to help yourselves. The biggest problem with this approach is this that employers are not because they are the biggest reason behind these issues and they don’t even care about the effectiveness of the solutions offered.
A recent study suggests that corporate wellness programs are not working well for many companies. The researchers involved with Illinois Workplace Wellness Study analyzed survey responses of more than 4,800 people across the U.S. and measured effectiveness of 39 outcomes like productivity, job satisfaction, and individual health spending. They found other than only two outcomes, none of the other 37 outcomes improved over the two years covered by the study.
Why Are Corporate Wellness Programs Falling Short?
But why are these corporate wellness programs fail to produce any result? The answer probably lies in a critical gap in the way we look at wellness.
When we think of employee wellbeing, we generally think of their mental, physical and stress level. Long working hours, short deadlines, and lousy management that lead to poor performance and unhappy workers are the main culprits behind workers stress and they cost the US $300 billion annually, and in Europe, it is responsible for 60 percent of absenteeism.
When an employer offer counseling, gym membership, mindfulness as part of the corporate wellness program, it sends an important signal of the value the company places on improving employee wellbeing. It tells the employees that the employer does not consider them only as money-making machines and they are cared for.
One of the first instances of workplace wellness initiative was taken by Henry Ford back in 1926 when he reduced work week from 48 hours to 40. The change brought in positive change in the employee productivity level, and soon enough other companies followed his footstep. This was probably one of the most successful implementations of employee wellness programs. But why? Because it addressed the critical effect of the workplace has on its employees. However, some corporate wellness programs of today completely fail to acknowledge this issue.
The Gap in Corporate Wellness Programs
We know that business leaders want to improve employee wellbeing, to make them happier, engaged and productive, so what kind of improvements in within the current corporate well-being programs they can make?
I think the key is to improve their social health. All of us are wired to be social and want to develop relationships and connections everywhere we go. The concept of social health is not something new. It’s suggested in the 1948 constitution of the WHO, which mentioned social health as an essential element of someone’s health.
No matter which industry you work in or the background they are from social health is essential to ensure employee wellbeing, and yet only the “physical and mental well-being” aspect is covered by most corporate wellness programs.
Achieving optimum employee social health can be difficult in this age of smartphone and wifi internet, where they have reduced the distance between your home and office, and the tools we use to communicate with our loved ones is the same as what we use to get the job done.
Our success and failure in life and at work is a health issue. But it isn’t just about our own physical and mental well-being. It’s the social context in which that well-being is expected to be fostered. This means, to quote the 1970s great feminist rallying cry, “the private is political.”
As Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer mentioned in his book Dying for a Paycheck, “Societies will need social movements, or maybe several social movements, that make human sustainability and people’s work environments as important as environmental sustainability and the physical environment have become.” France recently passed an act that allows employees a “right to disconnect” outside of working hours, to address the issue of information overload.
If you want to avoid experiencing corporate wellness program fail at your company, first you need to understand how wellness works; address the complex political issues around deadlines, workload, and management; and add a solution for them in our strategies. It is doubtful to see a traditional corporate wellness program that delivers happy, engaged, and more productive workers.
CircleCare corporate wellness program addresses the social health gap in employee well-being at work today by focusing on the very essence of how people connect and communicate, with mobile apps and positive reinforcement it helps organizations to achieve the very best an employee can offer.