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Make Way For Wellbeing: As Traditional Programs Fade, New Tech Emerges

June 30, 2016 / Uncategorized

Last week, SHRM released a study suggesting that workplace wellness programs are declining. According to the data, on-site flu shots, health and lifestyle coaching, and weight loss programs are losing steam.

While certain traditional programs may be fading, workplace wellness programs aren’t being phased out. They’re evolving and becoming more sophisticated, in order to meet the specific needs of employee populations. In place of traditional, outdated programs – the ones SHRM says are losing ground – employees are being offered mobile apps, personalized technology, relevant rewards, and social feedback loops. Instead of an analog weight-loss program, workers are encouraged to use wearables to track and learn from their behavior. Rather than merely providing an EAP hotline, employers are offering tools and technology to help employees build resilience. In addition to an annual 401(k) briefing, robust workplace wellness programs include online courses and coaching around financial goal-setting.

It’s time for older programs to cede to emerging technologies that have been designed specifically to enable positive, healthy behavior change. The rise and fall of traditional workplace wellness speaks to an exciting evolution in the industry, one that’s being widely discussed: the move from wellness to wellbeing. This is reflected in the programmatic changes I’ve outlined above, but is also inherent in the business drivers for wellness and the motivators for implementing holistic, high-tech programming.

Consider the era of the flu shot, HRA, coaching, and analog weight loss program: this was a time when programs and investments were driven by dollars and data points. A couple of decades ago, wellness programs were an attempt to lower health care claims and engender cost savings.  But in recent years, as wellness has evolved and outcomes have advanced, businesses have realized that the impact of wellbeing goes far beyond claims data. In fact, many other important business drivers are linked to strong wellbeing programs: employee engagement, productivity, employee recruitment and retention, and even stock prices.

What we’re seeing is not a retraction of wellness. Instead, we’re witnessing a time of robust expansion, evolution and redefinition. In times of growth, outdated models must fall by the wayside to make room for better solutions. We bid a fond farewell to flu shots and telephonic coaching – they’re where wellness began, after all – but we’re excited about the current outlook of wellbeing. We see a future that leverages technology, behavioral economics and social psychology to create programs that help people and businesses alike.

Start reaping the benefits of a healthier, more productive workforce and profitable organization. Download our white paper and begin building your business case for wellbeing.


Elise Meyer is the Director of Corporate Communications at Virgin Pulse. She has over five years of experience in workplace wellbeing, and is passionate about helping businesses create engaging solutions that change lives. Elise has over ten years of experience in marketing, communications, and content creation. Outside the office, she’s a devoted caretaker to her vegetable garden and an enthusiastic but pitiful surfer.

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