Workplace Wellness Trends for 2021 and Beyond

Lynn Zimmerman, Vice President of Marketing, WellRightLynn Zimmerman, Vice President of Marketing, WellRight
Workplace wellness has never been more important.

The personal challenges and stressors people typically face are bad enough on their own. Add in the pandemic and politics, and it’s no surprise employee well-being is suffering.

Workplace wellness programs need to address these issues in a way that caters to an increasingly younger and more diverse employee population. Here’s our analysis of what companies need to be aware of for 2021.

The Demand for Employee Wellness Coaching Will Increase

Wellness coaching has become more prevalent in the workplace. Wellness coaches offer advice, help employees create plans, and provide on-going support that focuses on employees as individuals. This personal approach helps employees set and achieve health and wellness goals, which ultimately, contributes to workplace satisfaction, reduces absenteeism, and supports the company’s overall goals.

Given that remote working will continue into 2021 and beyond for many companies, wellness coaching may become a necessary company touchpoint. Some remote teams are highly connected and interactive, but many employees may only speak to their direct supervisor. A wellness coach can help employees feel more included.

Companies that adopted a wellness coaching model before the pandemic have benefitted from the support it provides employees as they struggle to balance their emotions, their conflicting responsibilities, and their workloads.

Customization is the key to successful implementation of a wellness coaching program.
By segmenting employees according to needs and preferences, companies can create wellness programs that offer the most value for their employees.

Wellness Solutions Will Need to Be Digital and Mobile

Millennial and Gen Z employees are already sold on the value of workplace wellness. They are more likely to recognize the connection between their mental and physical well-being and will expect these services as part of a standard benefits offering. At the same time, the stigma associated with mental health services continues. The National Council for Behavioral Health reports that 40% of millennials and 49% of Gen Z fear that they will be judged for seeking mental health services.

Despite their fears, millennials truly need these services due to a steady and disturbing decline in their physical and mental health. The BlueCross and BlueShield Association reported that major depression rates among millennials increased by 43% between 2014 and 2018.

And then there is the impact of 2020. Companies are finding themselves flush with employees who struggle to be productive amid the constant stresses of illness, loss, social and political unrest, and balancing home and work life.

Companies that want to provide better mental health support for millennials and Gen Z need to meet those employees where they spend most of their time—online. The trend toward digitization has already begun. Internal productivity and communication platforms have gone digital and workplace wellness solutions will need to follow suit in 2021 and beyond.

Companies should lean toward implementing workplace wellness solutions that are accessible on a mobile device. Two such examples are 1) digital behavioral health platforms that provide cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) modules and 2) mental health counseling with a certified coach via secure text messaging. Options like these offer stigma-free alternatives to traditional mental health services. Online resources like an Emotional Wellness Resources page are also extremely valuable and a great start for any company.

There is no doubt workforce wellness will continue to be a valued service companies can and should offer their employees, especially as younger generations take over the workforce. In 2021, however, companies will need to tailor their programming, making it more personal, more convenient, and ultimately, more meaningful.
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