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What’s Next in Wellness?

Ah, the start of a new year. It’s that time of year when we all collectively emerge from weeks of indulgence vowing to turn over a new leaf and become the best versions of ourselves. Wellness is the buzzword of our times — and not just in our personal lives, but in the workplace as well. 

In the context of employee wellbeing programmes, it isn’t just about companies offering their employees fruit subscription boxes. It’s about making both mental and physical health a higher priority, viewed within a broader ecosystem of productivity.

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In fact, employee wellbeing is poised to be a key part of the next generation of management tools. What’s more, 87% of employees prioritise health and wellbeing offerings when choosing an employer.  Fortunately, there are a number of technology-driven health trends on the rise that will make this year our most productive and positive.

Thanks to technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), HR professionals are now able to deliver better wellbeing experiences for their employees than ever before. Healthier employees lead to greater workplace productivity, which can have a tangible impact on a company’s ROI.

In 2020, technology will continue to revolutionise the way that HR departments approach workplace wellbeing. So if employee mental and physical health isn’t a priority for your team yet, it absolutely should be. With that in mind, here are the trends we believe will dominate workplace wellbeing programmes in the coming year.

Personalisation

Many companies already invest in employee wellbeing initiatives by offering benefits such as stress management workshops, lunchtime yoga sessions and healthy snacks. In 2020, workplace wellbeing will go even further and deliver more value by becoming personalised to the individual employee.

Imagine, a workplace wellbeing plan tailored to the individual: one-to-one therapy sessions, stress management programmes based on individual biofeedback, and DNA testing. These initiatives once sounded like science fiction but today are tangible, personalised solutions that organisations are able to offer employees to show up as their healthiest, most engaged selves.

While wearables are not new (think Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch), increasingly sophisticated technology such as digital therapeutics, breathing exercises based on biofeedback and AI-driven health insights will allow for even smarter monitoring of health and wellbeing. New wearable technology can collect valuable data from individuals, such as heart rate variability, sleep, mood, and activity. This means that employers are able to provide a solution that’s customised to each employee while maintaining their privacy, which is paramount. Such technologies can predict, prevent and offer personalised solutions to achieve a tailored health plan.

As an example, BioBeats recently partnered with WPP Health Practice, providing employees with a wearable and app that provides real-time access to wellbeing data, as well as clinically-proven coaching courses based around their own data.

Scalable tech

Right, so we’ve identified personalisation as the name of the game for employee wellbeing in 2020. But how do we deploy it at scale? Large organisations need personalised solutions that will also be suitable to deploy amongst hundreds, or even thousands, of employees. In the past, this wasn’t always doable. Thankfully, technologies such as AI have made it possible for organisations to provide tailored solutions at scale.

With AI-powered solutions, organisations now have the ability to provide wellbeing schemes that are tailored across multiple functions, offices and teams. And with technological systems that analyse the data, there’s no need for human intervention, as larger numbers don’t pose a barrier to data analysis.

By ensuring that wellbeing schemes address individual needs, HR departments will enable more employees to reach their health potential, meaning that workers will feel better physically and mentally.

The increasing availability of such AI-driven technology means that in 2020, we’re going to see more organisations turning to technology to implement wellbeing solutions that can be rolled out widely yet customised thoughtfully.

Measurement

In the past, measuring the impact of workplace wellbeing initiatives hasn’t always been straightforward. Companies have had to rely on occasional staff surveys, which provide a qualitative snapshot in that given moment. While this kind of qualitative feedback is important, we’re increasingly seeing companies looking for more data to assess the impact and justify the cost of workplace wellbeing programmes.

Through wearable technologies, employers will be able to see aggregated data on the wellbeing of their organisation. Employers will be able to track the impact of wellbeing initiatives in real-time. Technology will never replace HR teams, but it can empower them by enabling them to make efficient and informed decisions when it comes to wellbeing initiatives.

This is just the beginning of what new technologies can do when it comes to wellness in the workplace. We’re entering an era of exciting, technology-driven possibilities. By embracing these new trends, employers can put themselves ahead of the curve in all facets of building and maintaining healthy, productive workplace teams. Workplace wellbeing is vital for attracting and retaining talent, as well as increasing overall productivity. Happy, healthy employees can truly be the difference between a thriving company and a failing one.

About the author: Constanza Di Gennaro, is Chief Operating Officer, BioBeats.

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