Workplace wellness

Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. Known as 'corporate wellbeing' outside the US, workplace wellness often comprises activities such as health education, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs or facilities.

Workplace wellness programs can be categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention efforts, or an employer can implement programs that have elements of multiple types of prevention.[1] Primary prevention programs usually target a fairly healthy employee population, and encourage them to more frequently engage in health behaviors that will encourage ongoing good health (such as stress management, exercise and healthy eating). Secondary prevention programs are targeted at reducing behavior that is considered a risk factor for poor health (such as smoking cessation programs and screenings for high blood pressure). Tertiary health programs address existing health problems (for example, by encouraging employees to better adhere to specific medication or self-managed care guidelines).

Companies often subsidize these programs in the hope that they will save companies money in the long run by improving health, morale and productivity, although the existing research is mixed on whether the programs provide net savings.[2]

Non-controversial examples of workplace wellness organizational policies include allowing flex-time for exercise, providing on-site kitchen and eating areas, offering healthy food options in vending machines, holding "walk and talk" meetings, and offering financial and other incentives for participation.[3] In recent years, workplace wellness has been expanded from single health promotion interventions to create a more overall healthy environment including, for example standards of building and interior design to promote physical activity.

Many employers offer wellness or health promotion programs to help employees improve their health and avoid unhealthy behaviors. Both small and large firms offer a program in at least one of these areas: smoking cessation; weight management; behavioral or lifestyle coaching. 46% of small firms and 83% of large firms offer these. 3% percent of small firms and 16% of large firms reported collecting health information from employees through wearable devices like  a Fitbit or Apple Watch. 42% of large firms with one of these health and wellness programs offered employees a financial incentive to participate in or complete the program. Among most large  firms with an incentive for completing wellness programs, incentives include: lower premium contributions or cost sharing (34% of firms); cash, contributions to health-related savings accounts, or merchandise (76% of firms); some other type of incentive (14% of firms). Some firms separate financial incentives for different programs and some others have incentives that require participation in more than one type of program (e.g., completing an assessment and participating in a health promotion activity).

There are various types of Wellness Programs offered in firms. Biometric screening programs can help identify cardiovascular risk factors in clients. Larger firms or businesses tend to facilitate more incidences of biometric screening programs. This can be in part to the amount of leadership support that is encouraged by company leaders and then received by employees.[4] Also, putting more of an emphasis on building a more personalized experience is a major workplace wellness trend for 2018.[5]