Employee health and wellness is an increasingly important consideration for employees and employers alike. Physical fitness crazes have had wide appeal in recent decades, reflecting a general increase in health and fitness awareness among the U.S. population. The COVID-19 pandemic also reminded people around the globe of how vulnerable our health can be and served as a tragic reminder of the health risks of certain underlying conditions linked to unhealthy lifestyles, such as obesity and smoking.
The Downfalls of Workplace Wellness
Even in workplaces that do not require a great deal of physical labor, health and wellness issues can be extremely disruptive. Employees who work on-site with coworkers can spread communicable diseases like COVID, the flu, and the common cold to an entire office in short order. Even remote workers can be forced to take time away from work for illnesses that aren’t just transmissible but also personally debilitating.
An unhealthy workforce can also contribute to higher insurance costs for employers that sponsor employee health insurance programs.
Trends on the Horizon
With this dynamic backdrop in mind, Laura Putnam, a workplace well-being expert, a public speaker, and author of Workplace Wellness That Works, discusses several workplace wellness trends to watch for in 2023.
- Hybrid work is here to stay. After experiencing the new freedom and flexibility remote and hybrid work offered during the pandemic, many employees are loathe to give it up. Amid a tight labor market, employers are finding they need to provide this flexibility if they wish to attract and retain top talent.
- The rise of the 4-day workweek. It’s not only flexibility in where they work but also flexibility in when and how long they work that today’s employees are demanding. Therefore, the 4-day workweek is likely to become more commonplace in 2023 as companies vie to be competitive in a tight labor market.
- Mental well-being has taken center stage. Burnout, depression, and anxiety are at record levels, and employers are stepping up to address this trend, recognizing they may hold the key to helping employees improve their mental health. This is therefore likely to be a priority in 2023.
- The labor movement will grow. With employees still in the driver’s seat, they will continue to use their leverage to create stronger unions across many different sectors.
- Well-being is a shared responsibility. As recently shared by Francis deSouza, CEO of Illumina, at a recent CEO roundtable hosted by Fortune and Salesforce, “Employee wellness is an imperative. It is one of the criteria that people use to choose a job and whether or not to stay at a job or not.”
Employees continue to be in high demand in the current labor market, and their demands go beyond salary and benefits. Employees want to work for employers they believe have their overall health and well-being in mind, as well.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.