The tide of the corporate wellness movement has well and truly lapped up on our shores here in Ireland, but there’s plenty of scope for it to rise further. For one, the concept of ‘corporate wellness’ is more and more often being shirked in place of employee wellness as companies with fewer employee numbers than the 100s and 1000s of a typical corporation are joining in the workplace wellbeing movement.
If you’re part of a medium-sized organisation like this then a very warm welcome aboard!
In this article I want to look at the expansion of employee wellness culture in Ireland in 2018 and the trends in employee wellness delivery you can expect to see and potentially emulate in your company.
Government Backing for Employee Wellness
In 2017 the Irish government launched the Work Positive Initiative to help organisations improve employee wellbeing by providing workplace stress and employee wellness resources and information on the dedicated website www.WorkPositive.ie.
Further promoting workplace wellness in Ireland is the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (IBEC) Keepwell Mark. The Keepwell Mark is an evidenced-based accreditation and award that recognises efforts made by your company to implement employee wellness programmes and to put employee health and wellbeing at the heart of your organisation.
I’ve no doubt that this government backing of employee wellness in the workplace will encourage more and more companies to offer employee health and wellbeing benefits. Doubtless also that while the corporate wellness movement began in Ireland in large corporations it’s now the case that smaller companies and SMEs are adopting employee wellness initiatives to promote wellbeing in the workplace.
As demand rises for employee wellness programmes in Ireland then so too does the supply of corporate wellness services. Needless to say, greater competition between corporate wellness suppliers results in higher quality and better choice. Those tasked with booking corporate wellness services can therefore look forward to a larger and stronger pool of employee wellness resources to choose from in 2018.
Employee Wellness programmes are becoming more holistic
2018 is all about developing an holistic approach to employee wellness. What does this mean? Well, it’s about ensuring that employees are happy and well overall – and not just physically fit and ready for work.
Different aspects of employee wellness contribute to the overall wellbeing of an employee, and they’re often deeply intertwined.
Key areas of employee wellness include physical wellbeing and fitness, nutritional wellbeing, employee financial wellness, employee mindfulness, mental health and social wellness.
Employee wellness programmes are adapting to the idea that all of these aspects of employee wellness are connected. I can give you an example of how this works from a recent article I wrote on helping employees to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking is no doubt a positive health measure that will improve an employee’s physical health. But helping employees to quit the habit is best supported by supporting all areas of employee wellness. For instance, employees who quit smoking often encounter issues relating to stress and sleep disorders and can also struggle with weight gain. Providing a comprehensive support framework will increase their chances of quitting successfully since all of these aspects of employee wellness are intertwined. Indeed, even financial wellness has a part to play here since employees can be incentivised by the financial savings that quitting smoking will yield.
The idea of holistic employee wellness programmes is therefore to support all areas of employee wellness simultaneously. This can be achieved by programming a strategic employee wellness calendar rather than providing ad hoc workplace wellbeing supports.
Workplace Wellness Committees
Workplace Wellness Committees are popping up all over the place. Personally, I think they’re a fantastic idea.
So what exactly is a Workplace Wellness Committee? Well, it’s a bit of a ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ kind of thing.
A Workplace Wellness Committee is basically responsible for the identification, design and implementation of activities and strategies that are geared to improve employee health and wellbeing of employees and create a healthy and happy workplace.
Wellness Committees can work independently of the HR department, or sometimes in tangent with them. They’re typically made up of representatives of different areas within the company with a broad demographic range where possible. They’re a great way to gain insights from different employee perspectives.
Furthermore, having representatives from different departments sitting on a Wellness Committee is an effective way to drive engagement with the employee wellness programme deeper into the company.
Employee Wellness Technology
No article about the future of, well anything, would be complete without a fairly hefty nod to technology. Employee wellness is no different, and in fact, it’s fair to say that the future of employee wellness in Ireland is destination tech.
We can look to our HR colleagues in America for an indication of what to expect in the coming years. A recent article on corporate wellness technology trends tells us that there’s far more to think about than just handing out FitBits to employees!
Indeed, employers are set to jump on a host of new technologies in the coming years in an effort to keep their employees healthy, engaged, productive and loyal.
You may see some potential in some of my favourite ‘ones to watch’ in the employee wellness technology sector:
- App-based health and diet coaching with deep data derived from personal medical information
- Employees engaging with chatbots on Facebook and other platforms about healthcare concerns and information
- Subsidising/making available of DNA Kits and reporting
- Leveraging the Internet of Things; Sophisticated room sensors to help monitor and affect the emotional and physical health of employees
- Incentivised gamification to encourage engagement
Ireland 2018 – a Great Place to Work
With government and private industry alike making employee wellbeing a central focus in 2018 Ireland is keen to establish itself as one of the best places to work in the world.
So it’s onwards and upwards for all of us wellness champions! If you’d like to stay up to date with all things employee wellness and get tips and advice on how to effectively implement an employee health and wellbeing programme in your company then why not sign up to our newsletter today.
Thanks for taking the time out to read this article. You’re welcome back onboard The Wellness Crew Blog any time you like! 🙂