The notion of wellness has evolved over the decades. In the fifties, the focus was on physical health with the invention of drugs such as antibiotics. In the 1960s, the emphasis shifted to social and intellectual wellbeing through social revolution and women’s liberation. Meanwhile, the eighties emphasised financial wellness through stocks and trade. Today, people are taking a more holistic approach to their personal wellbeing. People want to feel good on the outside and the inside in all aspects of their lives. To achieve this, they are actively seeking balance and a sense of harmony. As a result, in 2020 we’ll see many organisations working to better meet employee needs.
1. The holistic approach
A holistic approach means taking care of something totally in all aspects. In the workplace, a holistic approach means covering everything that enables us to be healthy and happy at work. For example, those who eat well and exercise typically have less time off work. They also have more energy to contribute while at work. However, even if someone eats well and exercises, stress can negate the positive benefits of the former activities. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure they are not stressed as well.
2. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits for ‘alternative’ family members
Including ‘alternative’ family members, when accessing EAP benefits, will be a key concern for employees in 2020. The general definition of a ‘traditional’ family is a married man and woman and their children. Couples who opt not to marry, same-sex partners and carers of siblings, among others, differ from the ‘norm’. But they are no less important than the traditional family. As such, employees are asking for EAP benefits to extend to those that may be considered alternative family members.
3. Mindfulness and counselling
Mental and stress-related illnesses are more common than many people realise. Employees can come to a job with a mental or stress related illness, or they can develop one during employment. For example, an unhealthy work environment can cause significant stress and lead to the development of mental illness. Many people manage their stress or mental illness with little or no impact on their work. However, some need support in the workplace, either for a short period or longer. Mindfulness and meditation programs can ease stress and counselling services can assist with mental illness.
Besides being a ‘good thing’ to do, companies offering paid time-off for volunteering entice and retain top talent. Volunteering boosts productivity because it instils a sense of meaning and purpose in employees. It also goes some way to improving employee engagement. Those that align to the values of their employees will attract the best minds who will do the best work. Which will ultimately impact on their organisation’s bottom line.
5. Financial wellness programs
Financial wellness may be one of the most important areas of workplace wellbeing in 2020. Financial wellness includes financial seminars, in-house financial counselling, and payday loans. Financial stress can take a toll on productivity in the workplace. But savvy employers know that whatever costs they spend on financial wellness programs, they will gain more back in the long run.
6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies
AI is set to impact many aspects of human life in this coming decade, including in the workplace. Intelligent technology in staff recruitment, training and career development is already being utilised. It offers the potential to make companies more efficient and responsive to employee concerns. As such, AI technologies that enhance employee experience will play a larger role in the workplace in 2020.