Corporate wellness as we know it has undergone a major transformation over the past few years—from the days of office snacks and step challenges into the holistic, multidimensional approach we know today.
In 2023, we saw how complex the web of workplace wellbeing can be, with various socioeconomic factors driving changes in employee engagement, mental health, and financial wellness. So what will 2024 have in store for employee wellness programs—and, perhaps more importantly, what makes a program resonate with employees today?
To find out, let’s take a closer look at how workplace wellness programs measured up in 2023, the elements that worked (and those that didn’t), and some of the key program features that will define employee wellbeing in the new year.
How Workplace Wellness Programs Measured Up in 2023
In recent years, wellness programs have gone from being an attractive job perk to a catalyst for employee retention and recruitment.
Today’s workers want to feel like their organizations value them and their wellbeing—and as a result, employee wellness programs have expanded from solely focusing on physical health to including more personalized wellness goals, prioritizing mental health, financial wellbeing, and even work-life balance. Some organizations have even been pioneering wellness initiatives like telemedicine and, most recently, four-day work weeks.
But how did these initiatives play out for both companies and employees?
Virtual Healthcare and Teletherapy
While telehealth services skyrocketed in popularity due to the pandemic, they’ve since become an invaluable resource, providing convenient, accessible, and affordable resources to support employee wellbeing.
Not only have telehealth options reduced healthcare costs for both employees and employers—an attractive draw for both—but they have also enabled companies to meet the health needs of their workforces more equitably.
It’s no surprise that implementation of virtual healthcare has jumped in use by 21% since 2022 alone, with more than three-quarters of employers planning on investing in virtual healthcare over the next three years.
But how are organizations actually doing when it comes to supporting their workers’ mental health?
While the American Psychological Association found that 77% of workers currently report experiencing work-related stress, it also found that the same amount were satisfied with the mental health support they’re receiving. Similarly, almost 60% say their organizations provide them with the information and resources they need to effectively address their mental health—a marked increase in access compared to years past.
While not traditionally thought of when it comes to employee wellbeing, finances play a crucial role in an individual’s health—especially when over half of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.
Organizations are just starting to recognize the importance of addressing financial stress by integrating focused wellness workshops, from budgeting classes and debt management resources to financial planning services.
In fact, 67% of organizations are claiming that empowering financial wellness is a significant priority for them in the next three years.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Whether these programs promoted flexible schedules or remote/hybrid models, they offered employees the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance. But did they follow through and stand the test of time?
The good news is that according to Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace 2023” report, flexible work arrangements did have a positive impact on productivity and performance in the past year. However, several organizations have slowly started scaling back their flexible work arrangements in favor of traditional, in-office schedules, prompting employees to experience elevated levels of stress.
4-Day Work Weeks
The four-day work week has long been a dream for employees, but it was no closer to becoming the norm in 2023.
That being said, the concept did garner significant attention after a trial program in the UK uncovered some significant benefits. Over 70% of participants in the program experienced significant decreases in stress and burnout, while 54% reported an overall positive impact on their mental health.
But the most surprising result from the trial? Organizations didn’t report seeing any drops in productivity during the trial period, with performance remaining solid as engagement and morale climbed.
While 2024 is unlikely to see the four-day work week become the norm, it’s clear that more and more organizations in the U.S. are showing interest in trying out this revolutionary initiative in the near future.
While 2021 had “The Great Resignation” and 2022 had “Quiet Quitting,” 2023 was the year of manifesting positive transformations with concepts like “Quiet Thriving.”
For employees, the goal of quiet thriving has been to flip burnout on its head by finding ways to advance from a career perspective. In response, employers have found novel ways for workforces to engage with their positions on a deeper level without overextending themselves.
How exactly? To help workforces thrive, fostering a culture of quiet thriving involves making a conscious effort to incorporate holistic wellness into everything employees do, from providing meaningful work to supporting professional and personal development.
6 Initiatives That Will Elevate Your Corporate Wellness Program in 2024
The past year has clearly seen a lot of ups and downs when it comes to corporate wellness, with many organizations launching new programs and initiatives to address socioeconomic conditions and better support employees.
To help you start the year off right, here are six different initiatives to consider that will revolutionize your employee wellness program in 2024.
1. Initiate a Leadership Advocacy Campaign
In 2023, we saw how prompting empathy in leadership plays a crucial role in developing a positive, supportive company culture.
This year, leadership advocacy will continue to be a vital part of corporate wellness programs. After all, the whole initiative relies on leaders being actively involved and promoting transparent communication. It will be critical to map out a detailed plan for leaders, including schedules, timelines, and key messaging points to drive employee engagement and participation.
2. Add Mental Health Days as a PTO Substitute
As leaders continue to recognize the importance of mental health in the workplace, organizations should consider offering dedicated mental health days, in addition to normal PTO and sick leave.
These days wouldn’t work the same as vacation days—instead, employees should use them to dedicate specific time to care for their mental wellbeing. Not only does this acknowledge the rising issue of mental health in the workplace, but it also takes away the stigma of taking time off to focus on oneself (especially if leaders model the initiative themselves).
3. Plan Financial Education Workshops
Unfortunately, financial stress is likely to continue into 2024, posing a major concern for many employees. While organizations have no control over larger financial circumstances, they can provide personalized resources to make employees’ lives easier.
Offering regular financial wellness workshops, classes, and seminars with financial advisors and coaches is a great way to arm employees with the knowledge and confidence they need to combat financial stress. These sessions could be held monthly or quarterly to improve financial literacy and wellbeing by providing the tools employees need to take charge of their personal finances without fear of judgment.
4. Incorporate Families into Wellness Activities
Wellness programs don’t have to be for employees only—why not extend them to family members, too?
Not only can this significantly boost employee engagement and participation, but it also creates a more inclusive environment. Whether it’s including kids in fun wellness activities or offering mental health resources to the whole family, this holistic approach demonstrates that an employee is valued and cared for as a person.
5. Create Monthly or Quarterly Themes to Support Healthy Habits
Designating each month or quarter in 2024 with a specific theme or focus on building a healthy habit can provide some much-needed structure to a wellness program.
For instance, many workplaces might already be participating in Dry January. In addition to Black History Month, February is also American Heart Month, which could be a great opportunity to raise awareness about health risks and promote routine checkups and preventive health screenings.
6. Personalize as Many Program Elements as Possible
Finally, personalization will be a key factor in driving employee engagement for corporate wellness programs in 2024.
Leveraging a wellness platform to collect unique health data and present personalized recommendations and activities can be a game-changer when it comes to participation. These tailored programs ensure that each person receives relevant and effective suggestions, increasing their engagement and the overall success of the program.
As health and wellness become increasingly prioritized in 2024, personalization will no doubt be an essential feature of any corporate wellness program.
Find the Right Wellness Program for Your Workplace
Developing a wellness program specifically tailored to your workplace will be crucial in 2024. Not only can a great employee wellness program act as an effective recruitment tool, but it can boost retention efforts and, of course, support employees on their wellness journeys.
WellRight offers a range of customizable wellness solutions designed to meet the unique needs of your organization. Contact us today to see how we can help transform your workplace in 2024.