Benefits & Compensation News

Expert cites 4 wellness trends that will catch on

At this point, you’d be hard-pressed to find many companies that don’t have some type of wellness program in place. But what employers want to know now is this: What’s the future of employer-sponsored wellness programs?

And that’s just what Stephanie Pronk, the vice president of Aon Hewitt, set out to answer in a recent post on BenefitsPro.

Here are four wellness trends Pronk expects to see catch on among employers in the near future.

1. Sustainable wellness options

Most wellness programs include some type of incentive to employees for participating. The problem with this: Many employees sign up for their the program, get their reward and then stop focusing on the health issues the program was meant to address.

Wellness programs must be set up to spur real, long-term change on the part of the participants. And to do that they need to be embraced as a part of the entire workplace culture.

So Pronk believes employers must (and will) look to safety programs to help with sustainable wellness and says, “When you think about why safety programs are so successful in organizations, it’s because they’re engrained in the culture. It’s part of the way they do their work every day.”

Some examples of sustainable wellness Pronk cites: walking meetings and standing work stations.

2. Greater family focus

Employers are starting to realize that it’s critical to communicate with employees’ spouses and dependents. As Pronk puts it, “We’re finding that the (family) unit is really important in terms of changing behavior and sustaining that behavior.”

That means more firms will be specifically targeting family members moving forward. Some tactics Pronk mentioned: Home mailings with things like games, healthy recipes and shopping lists.

3. More individual, company-wide transparency

With more employers stressing the importance of personal accountability in health care, you can expect more transparency in firms’ wellness efforts.

Obviously, legal restrictions bar employers from seeing or sharing confidential health info. But Pronk expects more employers to call attention to — and celebrate — employee milestones (e.g., quitting smoking, hitting weight-loss targets, etc.). And more employers are likely to put together and distribute quarterly health reports on company-wide health care trends, according to Pronk.

4. Community help

Employers have been nudging employees in the direction of healthier living for some time now. But companies do realize the real work has to be done outside of work — on employees’ own time.

So Pronk believes more companies will start wielding their power and influence in their local communities to help give employees more outlets for healthier living.

Example: Lobbying for more (and better) walking and running paths.

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