Six Important 2020 Wellness Trends
As we head into the final weeks of winter and look forward to spring, we’d like to share six important wellness trends that we believe will impact the industry this year.
1. The Whole-Person Approach
As wellness programs have become a staple of the modern-day workplace, they have expanded in scope. We believe they will continue to do so. Employees have begun to count on their employers to provide resources that can help them improve their lives, and employers have increasingly recognized that true wellness is a concept that stretches across every facet of the human experience: physical, mental, emotional, social, work-life, and financial. A holistic wellness program is one that has the capacity to address each one of these issues, taking better care of any organization’s greatest asset—its people.
2. Financial Wellness
Most Americans struggle to save money; in fact, according to the Harris Poll’s CareerBuilder Online 2017 survey, 78% reported that they live paycheck to paycheck. Unemployment is at an all-time low, but a 2019 study by the Center for Financial Services Innovation reveals an American workforce that is in need of financial help:
- 44% said their expenses were more than their income in the previous year and they relied on credit cards
- 42% said they have no retirement savings
- Only 28% meet the requirements that define “financially healthy”
According to PWC’s latest Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 59% of employees rate financial challenges as their #1 stressor. More organizations are exploring financial wellness programs that deal with budgeting, saving, and spending wisely, and we expect this trend to strengthen in the upcoming years.
Technological advances have transformed—and will continue to transform—the experiences that employees have with the wellness programs offered to them. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can interpret data as a human would, only more efficiently. This gives employers greater insight into the particular needs and desires of their employees, allowing them to personalize their wellness programs accordingly. AI will continue to make it easier to implement the most important missing pieces into existing wellness programs while also identifying the pieces that are providing the most benefit.
We believe the personalization trend will also be fueled by the adoption of communication technologies that employ psychographic segmentation (or more simply, psychographics) in wellness. Psychographics, which has long been used in the marketing of consumer products, allows the delivery of messaging and content that is cultivated to engage various segments of a population differently based on their values, attitudes, and priorities. Psychographics can be used in health promotion to increase participant interest and boost motivation—and we’ve already begun doing some work in this area. Based on our initial findings, we will be surprised if psychographics does not become a more prominent element of wellness programs in the coming year and beyond.
4. Mental Health
According to Johns Hopkins, mental health disorders—including depression, in all its forms—affect 26% of US adults in a given year. In 2017, only about 42% of those who needed it received some sort of mental health treatment. Further, if time, energy, and resources are not properly managed in our fast-paced work and home lives, stress and mental malaise can take a heavy toll without necessarily creating a diagnosable condition. Employers have been responding in recent years, going outside their traditional EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to offer convenient online stress management and resiliency programs like LivingEasy and, in some cases, onsite and/or phone-based stress-management coaching. As we head into 2020, mental health is getting the attention it deserves in the workplace and we see this as a trend that will continue.
Platforms are related to the first entry in our list, the holistic approach, in that they allow companies to pull together disparate components of a personalized wellness program in one efficient, easy-to-manage solution. As the personalization trend continues, platforms are the answer to efficiently leveraging the constant technological advances and influx of new programming elements available. That is, platforms are designed to facilitate the addition of missing pieces as the need for them becomes evident—they are flexible, scalable, and aim for comprehensiveness. We believe that more companies will enhance operational efficiencies by incorporating platforms that seamlessly interweave all their various wellness program components.
6. Data Security and Privacy
Data security and privacy concerns are no longer limited to computers and servers—especially when it comes to health data. There are devices used to monitor almost every conceivable detail related to health and our daily routines—they are wearable, interactive, and even aesthetically attractive (sometimes). The questions for many users (and potential but hesitant users) are: What happens to all this data? Who sees it? What is done with it?
The concerns are justifiable (and not completely new—there has always been a subset of employees who were more guarded about their personal information). All the devices and the new technologies only make proper security and privacy even more essential, as it can alleviate the concerns that users may have about leaked data leading to a raise in premiums, job discrimination, etc.
So what’s the trend we’re seeing here? More companies will invest in data security measures and require their wellness vendors to do the same, going beyond what is legally required to ensure users have confidence that personal information is safe and secure.
So those are some of the more important trends we’ve been seeing in various stages of development throughout the last year, and we expect each of them to make their mark on the industry in the coming year. Stay tuned for more in the months ahead …