The wellness year in review: the top 8 trends (Part 1)

Phew! What a whirlwind year! And the wellness world was no different! A year filled with many highs, & some lows. But most importantly, further realisation of the benefits that healthy employees bring to an organisation.

In looking back, we observed a number of trends that will do doubt shape wellness program delivery for 2013 & beyond.

Trend #1 – Aussie employers are spending more on wellness

According to a recent IBIS World report, the Corporate Wellness industry is in good health. The predicted revenue growth for the industry in 2012-13 is 7.4%, as companies & governments recognise the benefits of promoting wellness in the workplace.

Trend #2 – Budgetary belts have tightened

Contrary to above, economic uncertainty has also seen tightening of budgets in some industries.

Many perceived ‘soft’ programs, such as social events, employee benefits & (unfortunately) wellness programs, have found themselves in the firing line, as operations are stripped back to ‘core business’.

Smart organisations continue to invest in employee wellness. They realise that having healthy, resilient & high performing staff is critical to pushing through such challenging times, & beyond.

This is reinforced in a recent study by the UK Institute for Employment Studies which stresses that there is no reason to lose focus on employee wellness during tough economic times “…in fact the reverse is true – it becomes more important than ever to keep people at work & working at their best when they are there.”To achieve this, wellness programs must move beyond the fluff & eradicate the ‘nice-to-have’ tag.

Trend #3 – Employers are boosting the financial fitness of employee

We’re not surprised to have received a spike in enquiries regarding financial wellness providers the past year.

In the current economic climate, financial pressures on employees are growing, which has flow on effects to the workplace. In fact, finances are second only to work as the leading cause of stress. This negatively impacts absenteeism, productivity & workforce commitment.1,2 Subsequently, an increasing number of employers are investing in financial literacy & retirement planning for their employees to help ease the pinch.

Trend #4 – Sitting down is bad for business

Increasing research regarding the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting, certainly encouraged us to stand up more for good health this year! Prolonged sitting has been recognised as a major risk factor for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes & musculoskeletal problems, irrespective of time spent in moderate exercise.3

The transport industry, highly mechanised roles & office-based employees are particularly at risk.

Whilst I pride myself on my regular exercise routine, this is quickly undone by many hours sitting on my backside  each day commuting, spending endless hours at my computer & crashing in front of the TV at night! Sound familiar? I’ve tried to recently break this cycle by getting off a station earlier when catching the train (where my destination is walking distance), investing in a good headset (with a long cord!) to enable standing tele-meetings & taking more stretch breaks over the day. My ‘niggly’ neck & back are certainly feeling the benefits as a result!

Click here for an excellent clip from VicHealth on the importance of moving more at work, & check out this useful workplace toolkit from Comcare.

Stay tuned for the remaining trends in our next edition of Buzz!

References

1. Cash, G. (1996) ‘Financial Wellness: Will it be your next health promotion program’, Available:www.healthy.net/library/articles/cash/centre/worksite.htm

2. Krajnak, P et al (2008) ‘Retirement Education in the Workplace’, Financial Services Review, 17: 131-141.

3. VicHealth (2012) ‘Reduced Prolonged Sitting in the Workplace’, available www.vichealth.vic.gov.au