Everyone has felt the effects of the pandemic – especially workers across the globe, whose livelihoods as well as employee perks and benefits have been significantly impacted.
Among the work areas impacted by the pandemic is workplace wellness.
As a result, the last two years have presented new challenges for employers in all fields related to work.
Many organizations have found themselves in a position where they had no choice but to shift and rethink their plans and investment areas for employee wellness.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to shape employee wellness offerings for the new year.
Here’s a closer look at how workplace wellness programs will evolve in 2022 as companies work to enhance the employee experience, retain workers, and improve their health.
The pandemic has exacerbated long-standing challenges pertaining to mental health and emotional well-being – including access, stigma, quality, and resources.
Overall mental health worsened under the pandemic, and that’s expected to be an area of continued focus for employers, according to a report from Business Group on Health.
COVID-19 has resulted in prolonged periods of anxiety and stress, burnout, and the substance use disorder (SUD) crisis.
Employers are investing in online resources and digital health solutions to ensure more workers can access behavioral healthcare.
However, emerging mental health challenges are set to be an incoming hurdle.
Health disparities became far more scrutinized during the pandemic, which will be a key consideration for employers.
Health inequities can prevent people from accessing the care they need, impacting their ability to manage chronic conditions and severe acute needs.
To address health inequities in 2022, employers will offer inclusive and affordable health benefits and well-being programs, as well as seek representative provider networks.
Employers are analyzing health disparities globally by addressing implicit bias and systemic racism to mitigate differences in health status, emotional well-being, health outcomes, and mortality across the entirety of the workforce, including those in under-resourced or marginalized groups.
Leading employers will continue to drive the evolution of the workforce, including how and where employees work.
Well-being/wellness resources will need to shift accordingly. In the new year, employers will ideally remain focused on programs that support psychological and workplace safety, remote or hybrid work, and leave-related impacts.
According to the report, employers will continue to take into consideration their employees’ interests and focus purposefully on health equity, go beyond behavior change and alter the circumstances that shape physical and mental health, and increase the trust employees have in their employers in terms of safety, health, and well-being,
The pandemic brought about many changes and new ways of thinking, and companies are starting to realize that workplace wellness needs to go beyond physical and mental health.
There are 7 dimensions of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and physical
Organizations need to ensure that they are providing a robust wellness program that addresses all of these dimensions.
Programs that help individuals manage and cope with stress and depression will become more commonplace, as will programs that help employees with financial wellness and reskilling efforts.
Providing holistic programs and benefits shows employees that a company cares not just about their work performance, but also about their overall life satisfaction.
As work and life become increasingly intertwined with one another, these types of programs will help companies attract and retain talent.
An emerging trend in workplace wellness is a focus on financial wellness.
Many people were impacted financially by the pandemic and are still trying to recover, and financial worries are becoming a major driver of employee stress.
A survey found that 37% of employees live paycheck to paycheck and of those, 57% say they are struggling financially and have suffered in the last two years.
Even more, one in four employees say their finances have worsened over just the last six months.
Research shows that providing the financial wellness support employees are looking for can positively impact employee engagement and loyalty, so it’s a win-win for both employees and employers.
Providing tools and resources around financial well-being is something many employers may want to consider coming into the new year.
Emma Ascott is a contributing writer for Allwork.Space based in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from Walter Cronkite at Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication in 2021. Emma has written about a multitude of topics, such as the future of work, politics, social justice, money, tech, government meetings, breaking news and healthcare.
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