In 2024, we are witnessing a remarkable transformation in workplace wellbeing programmes. These initiatives are no longer peripheral benefits but core elements of organisational strategy, deeply integrated into the fabric of corporate culture. This evolution reflects a broader understanding of what it means to be 'at work' and how this impacts an individual's overall quality of life. As we delve into the key workplace wellbeing trends for this year, it's important to recognize that these are not just fleeting responses to temporary challenges. Instead, they are indicative of a deeper, more fundamental change in the relationship between employers and employees – a shift towards a more empathetic, human-centred approach to work.
The trends we're seeing – from the rethinking of mental health to the adoption of preventative wellbeing models, from consolidation of wellbeing tools to a focus on financial wellbeing – are all facets of this broader transformation. Each trend further demonstrates the need for a holistic approach to employee wellbeing; one that recognizes the diverse and dynamic needs of the modern workforce. As we explore these trends further, it's essential to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to create work environments where individuals can thrive, not just as professionals but as people with complex, multifaceted lives.
1. Focus on Social Connections
Social connections are vital for employee wellbeing, especially in remote and hybrid work environments. To foster these connections, companies are investing in team-building activities and creating opportunities for in-person interactions. This includes regular team retreats, social events, and collaborative workspace designs that encourage spontaneous interactions.
Recent Gallup data shows that "having a "best friend" at work has become more important since the start of the pandemic, even considering the dramatic increase in remote and hybrid work."
In addition to formal events, there's an emphasis on creating a culture where informal, day-to-day interactions are encouraged. This might involve virtual coffee breaks, mentorship programmes, and online social groups. By nurturing a sense of community and belonging, organisations can enhance employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
"Having a "best friend" at work has become more important
since the start of the pandemic" - Gallup
Engaging employees in community service and social responsibility projects is also seen as a way to enhance their sense of purpose and fulfilment. A Cone Communications study revealed that 75% of employees feel more engaged when their company supports social and environmental issues. By creating opportunities for employees to participate in community initiatives, companies are fostering a culture of social responsibility and employee engagement.
2. Consolidation of Wellbeing Tools
Workplace wellbeing has become an umbrella term for a wide array of areas such as team culture, physical wellbeing, financial support, mental health, workplace design and more. This has produced an ever-increasing range of tools that organisations can provide their teams. However, an outcome, perhaps unforeseen, has been data silos. For example, organisations haven’t been able to see how mental health programmes perhaps drive energy levels or how ergonomic set up drives water intake throughout the day. At Healthbox, we are building Healthbox Live to solve this very problem. Currently in beta with our existing clients, our mission is to break down those data silos whilst integrating the New Zealand health system. From HealthChecks to SkinChecks, Audiometry and Spirometry, ergonomics assessments, seminars & workshops, and even employee feedback - it will all be in one consolidated platform.
3. A Rethink About How We Approach Mental Health: Back to Basics
The growing focus on mental health in the workplace is a natural response to increasing awareness of its impact on employee performance and overall wellbeing. While it was brought to the forefront by Covid-19 outcomes, in our opinion, this was a long overdue shake up and is slowly producing a much needed change to business environments.
In a bid to promote mental wellness, companies are expanding their mental health resources, recognizing that a mentally healthy workforce is more productive and engaged. However, perhaps more simple aspects are being overlooked, such as the working environment and leadership model. According to the Mind Share 2023 Mental Health at Work Report, “Healthy and sustainable cultures of work and a safe and supportive culture for metal health were rated as more helpful than therapy and self-care resources”. 78% of respondents rated a healthy and sustainable culture of work as their number 1 most helpful mental health support driver.
4. Financial Wellness Programmes
With the complexities of personal finance management and economic uncertainties, financial wellness has become a key focus. A recent Nudge financial wellbeing study found that when employers offered a strong financial wellness offering as part of their wellbeing program 63% of team members were more likely to feel committed to their employer. In response, employers are offering resources and tools to assist with financial planning, saving, and investing. These programmes often include access to financial advisors, educational workshops, and tools for budgeting and financial management. These initiatives not only help employees manage their current financial situation but also plan for their future, including retirement planning, debt management, and savings strategies. By supporting financial wellness, companies are acknowledging the direct impact of financial stress on overall employee wellbeing and productivity.
5. Preventive Health Measures
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of preventive health measures in the workplace. As a result, companies continue to implement measures such as enhanced sanitation practices, health screenings, audiometry and spirometry testing plus vaccination drives. These efforts are aimed at creating a safe and healthy work environment, reducing the spread of illnesses, and promoting general health awareness.
Beyond immediate health concerns, providing education and preventative tools for wellbeing also demonstrate an organisation's commitment to empowering team members to become the healthiest version of themselves, which can positively impact morale and culture. HealthChecks and SkinChecks are the perfect example of tools for wellbeing that organisations can use as preventative measures as they offer the team members insights into their own health data that may otherwise only be discovered at a much later date.
Bonus Trend: Workplace Design for Wellbeing
The design of the physical workplace plays a crucial role in employee wellbeing. A 2017 report by the World Green Building Council found that occupants of green-certified buildings had a 26.4% higher cognitive function score than those working in non-green-certified buildings. Another study found that office plants could increase productivity by 15%, reduce sick days by 1.6% per year per team member, all whilst improving mental wellbeing. Companies are therefore rethinking their office spaces to include ergonomic workstations, relaxation areas, and spaces that encourage social connection. The inclusion of natural elements like plants, natural lighting, and outdoor spaces is also a growing trend, known for enhancing mood and reducing stress.
Additionally, workplace design is increasingly focusing on flexibility, allowing team members to choose where and how they work best. This might include a variety of workspaces such as quiet zones, collaborative areas, and standing desks. By creating a work environment that prioritises employee comfort and health, organisations can boost productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. Keep in mind, every organisation’s culture fits on to a spectrum, which you need to find. There are cases of going too far up the scale and organisations having to revert!
Overall, 2024 is going to be an extremely important year for wellbeing in the workplace and how organisations approach it. Reverting back to basics will be the main driver of workplace wellbeing programmes, whilst discovering that the system of wellbeing is in fact just as important as the individual parts. Just like a country needs a well run healthcare system, an organisation needs a well run preventative workplace wellbeing programme.
To explore how Healthbox can transform your approach to employee wellbeing and drive meaningful change in your workplace, you can reach out to us by enquiring or emailing email@example.com. At Healthbox, we specialise in turning these insights into actionable strategies that resonate with your company's culture and goals.