Well-being, People and Productivity – Get on this Trend Mill

Perhaps you had a little organization envy recently when a friend told you about his free weekly yoga classes, part of a company-wide focus on health and well-being?

This and other similar health initiatives are part of an ongoing workplace trend gaining traction as more and more savvy organizations start to consider how to optimize employees’ well-being through a variety of health-based programs.

Initiatives for well-being and health cover a broad spectrum. From flexible working hours that cater to working mothers and fathers, comfortable seating and desk arrangements,  healthy food options available in the office or canteen, all the way to scheduled mindfulness, yoga or massage sessions, volunteerism opportunities alongside sleep pods for power naps and financial training to help employees organize life beyond work.

From Safety to Satisfaction – the Evolution of Well-Being

This trend around personal health and well-being isn’t a recent phenomenon.  It has been steadily evolving over decades.  Where once companies might have focused on health and safety programs exclusively, today a variety of wellness programs aimed at preventing illness in the workplace have become popular.  Programs like stress management, combined with the promotion of physical activities are common.  In more recent years, wellness has become ‘well-being’.  Well-being typically includes topics beyond mere safety and prevention of illness and disease. It covers mental, financial, spiritual and self-care aspects for employees.

This holistic focus on worker well-being seems to be part of the zeitgeist. And organizations are interested – investment in the sector by companies is significant. According to some experts, the corporate wellness market including healthcare programs is expected to reach $11.3 billion by 2021.[1]  And the forecast is healthy, with corporate wellness services revenue forecast to continue growing until 2023.  Given the current market place where competition for top talent is high, benefits in this category are one way of attracting and retaining the people you need for your business to succeed.

Why Well-being Wins

A focus on the employee as an individual, understanding what’s good and bad for them at a human and personal level of well-being, and delivering to that need in the workplace may be a cultural shift that will yield significant organizational benefits.   ‘People and companies have to move away from the idea that productivity is at odds with personal well-being’, said Arianna Huffington who launched Thrive Global in 2016, an organization that works with companies to help employees reduce stress and avoid burnout.[2]

Previous mindsets like the ‘always-on’ work martyr, who worked every hour in the workday, checking emails into the evening and weekend, and as a side order surviving on low levels of sleep, has lost ground. Some studies suggest the ‘always-on’ work culture has not delivered for companies from an engagement, productivity, creativity or commitment[3] point of view.

Employees who are overtired, burnt out and sleep deprived will not be the most effective, efficient or creative people in your organization.

And an exhausted workforce may make major mistakes and ultimately impact an organization’s bottom line.  The problem is not trivial. According to the National Safety Council [NSC], fatigued workers cost employers about $1,200 to $3,100 per employee in declining job performance each year, while sleepy workers are estimated to cost employers $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity[4].

People are an organization’s most critical resource.  If employees are happier and healthier, benefits will be substantial; greater employee engagement and motivation will mean employee turnover, absenteeism and general efficiency may be positively affected.

Bersin Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends Report[5] describes what they call the rapid rise of the social enterprise. They see this as a fundamental business change where organizations are no longer judged only on the basis of traditional metrics like financial performance but increasingly on their relationships with workers, their customers and their communities. The business enterprise has become the social enterprise and companies must do a better job of delivering on wellness to employees by meeting their expectations. This will boost a company’s social capital and project an attractive employment brand.

Getting Wellness Right

Many organizations are getting it right whether implementing programs that prevent illness and disease, or providing resources for workers’ physical, mental and spiritual health.

Implementation advice abounds.  Recommendations on how organizations can take low or no cost actions that will  ensure program success typically include figuring out what employees really want – collaborating closely with employees and managers to advise and consult on the final program and enlisting real leadership commitment to it.

Harvard Business Review highlights the folly of once-off, one-time events masquerading as health promotion programs. Their advice: activities that are not integrated into a comprehensive workplace health promotion strategy are likely to fail.  Forget that once-off yoga class you’re planning[6].

We believe

There is an ineluctable march towards a new type of workplace organization. This organization is flat with minimal hierarchy, and might be characterized as caring, collaborative and supportive of employee health and wellbeing. It is operating in a rapidly moving, digitally transforming, challenging marketplace where demand for talent may exceed supply.

The new employee population in this organization will be millennial[7], diverse and flexible. Employees may be gig workers, service providers, or short term contractors having a multiplicity of careers in one long working-lifetime. The shelf life of skills and knowledge – already less than five years – will decrease further. The modern worker will be overwhelmed with work and life, trying to survive in this complex, digital, automated workplace in an increasingly disrupted and transforming business world, while all the time having less and less time to keep professional skills up to date.

In such an environment, wellness and well-being will only increase in importance. Getting corporate well-being right in a holistic way that meets employee needs and expectations and keeping well-being at the top of the organizational agenda will deliver for everyone.

If you would like to discuss any of the insights in this piece with our consultants, email info@intuition.com.

Part 1: Preview

Part 2: Microlearning

Part 3: Video

Part 4: Personalization

Part 5: Content


[1] https://static.politico.com/3e/68/b29a1ff04e7d8bc7c8231352ffc5/ibis-study-on-corporate-wellness-programs.pdf

[2] https://www.clomedia.com/2017/04/26/exclusive-arianna-huffington-importance-wellness-training/

[3] Lack of sleep costs U.S. companies a staggering $63 billion in lost productivity, according to a September 2011 study from the Journal of Sleep.

[4] https://www.metro-magazine.com/management-operations/news/729084/sleep-deprivation-impacts-workplace-safety-productivity-and-individual-health

[5] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/de/Documents/human-capital/2018-Global-Human-Capital-Trends-New-%20rewards.pdf

[6] https://hbr.org/2016/03/how-to-design-a-corporate-wellness-plan-that-actually-works

[7] By 2025, Millennials Will Comprise Three-Quarters of the Global Workforce  https://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/generations-demographic-trends-population-and-workforce[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]