Workplace well-being programs have really grown up in recent years thanks to significant changes and upgrades in technology and a renewed cultural interest in health and well-being.

As I look at the corporate well-being landscape, I see a number of exciting trends on the horizon that I believe will help companies take their well-being programs to the next level, or help those just starting out to expand the focus of their well-being initiatives beyond physical fitness.

Here’s a look at five key workplace well-being trends I’m keeping an eye on in 2018.

The corporate vending machine comeback

Mark it down: 2018 is the year we’ll see the comeback of the corporate vending machine! I like to call it “vending machines 2.0”! These vending machines will include healthy options like granola bars, popcorn, pretzels and trail mix. In fact, you’re already seeing this in the consumer world as CVS is experimenting with vending machines filled with vitamins and healthy snacks.

Standing desks officially take off

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has called the standing desk the fastest growing employee benefit in the United States. And for good reason. Consider the lifestyle of the average office worker. Sitting all day with minimal breaks, right? In many ways, that lifestyle is worse than smoking! So, standing desks are poised to solve that problem by allowing employees to get just a little movement in their busy days.

An added bonus for employers? Standing desks are often fairly easy to implement, and it’s the type of perk that younger, health-minded workers are looking for when they walk through an office during the interview process. 

Let’s get personal

It’s no secret: employees want more personalization from their corporate well-being programs. And for an increasing number of companies that means getting smarter about using digital platforms, apps and wearable devices to meet employees’ preferences to have personalized experiences for their well-being—whether that’s in the office, working remotely or on-the-go.

In the year ahead, you’ll see more companies using “big (well-being) data” to customize well-being experiences for employees that sync up with their preferences and needs. Translation: More tailor-made content and specific content offerings based on employee interests.

Not only should these personalized programs drive adoption rates, but they should also increase awareness for well-being programs—an issue that research has told us is prevalent among employee audiences (the fact that many employees simply don’t know corporate well-being programs exist!).

2018 won’t see technology replacing live, human support when it comes to corporate well-being programs. But, we will see technology enabling more of those personal connections—especially at a more global level.

Tackling stress differently

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently called stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. In fact, one recent study found that work-related stress costs U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays (some estimate it at $300 billion).

That’s a serious business issue, folks.

It’s not like companies don’t know this is an issue among employees. They understand that. But, in 2018, I think you’ll see companies take a little different approach.

For example, I believe you’ll see more companies turn to meditation and mindfulness for help. Mindfulness, in particular, has been said to boost creativity and sharpen focus—two things that employers are eager to retain in the “always-on” age. For example, one of our manufacturing clients offers its employees a release and relax class—a simple 15-minute meditation class where employees are not required to change their clothes.

Finally looking closely at sleep

Sleep deprivation is another issue employers are painfully aware of—and one they also understand is plaguing today’s workforce. A recent RAND study estimates sleep deprivation costs U.S. employers roughly $411 billion annually. And we thought stress was a big issue!

Expect to see more employers tackling sleep deprivation head-on through formal sleep awareness and education programs, as well as incentive programs that track an employee’s sleep and provide points towards rewards for achieving set sleep goals. I believe we’ll also see more employers make room for on-site nap rooms (believe it or not!) and sleep pods as a way to give employees a break and boost productivity. 

What about you? What well-being trends do you see for the upcoming year?

Photo Credit: cfdtfep Flickr via Compfight cc

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