Roundtable pinpoints areas of change for workplace wellness

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has pinpointed key areas in which workplace wellness needs to change. 

The conclusions were drawn at a roundtable debate in New York, attended by representatives of the Cleveland Clinic, Johnson & Johnson, the Citi group, Weight Watchers, Pegasus Capital and Goldman Sachs, among others.

The event was co-hosted by Susie Ellis, chairman and chief executive of the GWI, and Renee Moorefield, chief executive of Wisdom Works, which focuses on creating healthy workplace environments.

The attendees concluded that the workplace wellness debate needs to focus more on long-term return on investment, such as retention and increased productivity. It was also agreed that our 24/7 digital access to work and the detrimental impact this has on consumer health and lifestyles needs to be taken more seriously.

However, the roundtable also highlighted the importance of embracing the vast potential of the use of technology for wellness purposes, including wellness apps, online coaching and medical consultations over the phone.

Attendees also pointed to the need to tailor workplace wellness programmes to local cultures, needs and resources to make them successful. Regional wellness traditions and resources need to be taken into account, they stated.

Another roundtable takeaway was that businesses need to move a way from a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness programmes, creating solutions that suit the very different needs and priorities of the baby boomer generation and the millennial worker alike.

Workplace wellness currently remains focused on physical health. However, the panel predicted that as stress levels continue to rise, with all the health implications this has, the wellness programmes of the future will increasingly incorporate solutions that also address mental health concerns and stress.

A continued global move towards less hierarchical management structures and employees responsible for their own time and roles to a greater extend could, the roundtable concluded, have a positive impact on companies' wellness initiatives.

It was also predicted that we will in the next 10 years see a new focus on the design of healthy workplaces that are pleasant to be in. Alfredo Carvajal, president of the international and signature programs divisions at Delos, said: “ We will see the design and building of workplaces change in the next decade, with a much-needed new focus on natural light, healthy air, worker privacy and comfort, and flexible office design.”

While workplace wellness programmes are becoming more and more common, and receiving an increasing amount of media coverage, roundtable participants agreed that few companies have yet to succeed in making them part of the very core of the business.

To be truly successful, the roundtable concluded, corporate wellness must become part of a company’s brand identity.