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COVID-19 Has Changed the Future of Corporate Wellness Programs

5 min read
Last Updated on 03 June, 2024

Over the past months,COVID-19 has slowed down the fast-paced hustle culture.

As part of their safety precautions, and keeping in line with the new normal of social distancing, companies have initiated remote work.

Apart from the daily 9 to 5 grind, conversations about the employees’ health and wellness are now in focus. Over 90% of employers acknowledge the positive impacts of good health on employees’ productivity.

However, coronavirus has impacted the overall wellness of employees for the worst. The pandemic has disrupted their normal and left them feeling lost and unmotivated.

According to Ginger’s survey, seven in ten employees feel that COVID-19 has been the most stressful time in their careers. The same study also reports that 62% of workers claim losing an hour of productivity every day because of coronavirus-related stress.

Thus, it is time for you, as an employer, to think about what the future of corporate wellness programs holds post the COVID-19 era.

Health insurance in the US has always been costly. Moreover, due to the ongoing health pandemic, healthcare costs might rise by 7% in the US.

Significant changes are required to minimize these costs. It will require time, resources, and money to ensure the success of such wellness programs. Make sure that the plans meet the changing needs and requirements in a post-COVID-19 world.

The Future of Corporate Wellness Programs Post COVID-19

The pandemic is changing the approach to corporate wellness programs. The current workforce, now working remotely, will have new expectations about what these programs entail. Let us discuss the most crucial aspects of these changes:

1. Onsite to Online Fitness Resources

The COVID-19 global pandemic has established the need for virtual programs. Corporate Wellness Programs will now have to look beyond traditional gym memberships and onsite healthcare solutions.

Chances are, even after the pandemic recedes, employees will be mostly working remotely. As such, they will expect on-demand access to online resources like fitness videos, live streaming sessions of workouts by fitness experts, webinars, etc.

Including these options in your wellness program will do wonders for your employees’ health and motivation as they continue remote work.

2. Access to Nutritious Food Options

Nutrition is the only remedy that can bring full recovery and can be used with any treatment.
Bernard Jensen, American Physician

Boosting immunity has become the talk of the town. People have become increasingly self-conscious about what they consume. When they resume work from the office, you can ensure that they have access to healthy and nutritious food onsite.

For instance, switch fizzy drinks for a healthy alternative like coconut water. Include fresh fruits in the office menu. You can also offer a newsletter subscription containing healthy meal recipes, or get a nutritionist to address your employees' concerns.

If you are clueless about where to start, introduce your employees to these delicious yet healthy lunch options.

A healthy diet will help your employees to:

  • Remain energized and active throughout the day
  • Avoid unhealthy cravings
  • Boost immunity and productivity
  • Reduce sick days and absenteeism

3. The Need for an Online Community

It is crucial that employees feel a sense of community in these trying times of self-isolation, lockdowns, and remote work. Workplace loneliness is a major issue plaguing the modern workforce. In the long term, loneliness hurts both the physical and mental health of employees. Poor health, in turn, hampers their work-life and productivity.

Workplace wellness programs will thus need to offer employees the option of forming online communities via wellness apps and challenges and social media use. Wellness challenges can include activities like:

  • Drinking more water
  • Trying different Yoga asanas
  • Walking 3000-4000 steps every day
  • Participating in weight loss challenges

Gamification of challenges and tasks in wellness apps can be a fun and effective way to increase engagement among remote employees. Gamification inculcates the spirit of healthy competition among peers and colleagues. Creating engaging contests, allotting customizable badges and redeemable fitness points, etc. are a few ways to ensure active employee participation.

Participating in these challenges will keep your employees engaged, motivated, and enable team bonding. Make these programs more inviting through the use of rewards and incentives.

4. The Use of Telemedicine

Telemedicine has been around since the 1950s. It refers to the process of using telecommunication technologies or electronic information to distribute healthcare services virtually. Telemedicine can overcome the barriers of distance between patients and specialists, counselors, and healthcare providers.

Regardless of how social distancing pans out in the future, telemedicine or telehealth is here to stay. It is a convenient option for employees seeking mostly non-emergency care.

Visiting health care clinics might be a valid inconvenience to your employees while also exposing them to serious health risks. As such, your corporate wellness program can give them the chance to connect to a trusted and listed health care provider, from the comforts of their homes.

5. Mental Health at Center Stage

Poor mental health in working professionals has become a burning issue in recent times. Studies show that as high as 83% of professionals in the US suffer from work-related stress. The coronavirus has only increased stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression among the workforce.

Workplace wellness programs can no longer limit their focus to physical health alone. What you will need is a holistic approach to wellness that targets both the mind and body. During and post COVID-19, your corporate wellness programs must look into employees’ mental health.

As employers and HR managers, you can facilitate better mental health among your remote employees in a few ways:

  • Pay attention to behavioral changes, if any.
  • Communicate extensively.
  • Lend an empathetic listening ear.
  • Try to gain their trust.
  • Encourage a clean diet and physical fitness.
  • Offer flexible working hours.
  • Connect them to an in-house counselor

6. The Surge of Health Watch/Bands

Wearables are one of the most significant technological innovations when it comes to health and wellness. These wearables, like Fitbit and Apple Watch help people monitor several key indicators of health, such as heart rate and calorie count.
In the next five years or so, every employee will own one of these health bands to keep track of their key health vitals.

These health watches will be an indispensable part of the future of corporate wellness programs. Corporate employers need to keep an eye on and include these futuristic technologies in their employee health benefits programs.

This is why it is a great idea to offer fitness bands to your employees:

  • Increases employee motivation and health awareness.
  • Optimized health increases productivity.
  • The investment will ultimately reduce healthcare costs.

7. In-Office and Home Health Screenings

Health screening assessments are medical tests that detect any symptoms or diseases in people so they can be treated early on.

In-Office health screenings can be an integral part of the future of corporate wellness programs. Employers can focus on streamlining preventive measures that are covered by the employees’ health insurance. These In-Office health screenings will help you to not only identify the health risks of your employees but also to adopt necessary wellness strategies.

In the case of remote employees, at-home health screenings can be encouraged. These screenings can be done through home test biometric screening kits that you can send over to your employees’ addresses. After they administer the test with detailed instructions, they can send the tests back via mail.

Health screenings can help employees to:

  • Be aware of their health conditions.
  • Take preventive measures to reduce healthcare costs.
  • Derive a great sense of job satisfaction
  • Stay more focused and productive.

The Bottom Line

Studies say that the global Corporate Wellness Market will reach a staggering worth of $97.4 Billion by 2027. This figure reflects the growing importance of corporate wellness programs in today’s day and age.

In the pre-covid era, corporate wellness might have been a luxury for most corporate sectors. But, COVID-19 will mold the future of these wellness programs towards being an absolute necessity.

Keep up with the workplace wellness trends and ensure optimal employee performance.

This article is written by Priyakshi Sharma who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. In her free time, she is found writing about cinema, life, and everything in between. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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