Updated: Feb 20
Is the future of workplace wellness based in technology or human-based solutions?
Corporate Wellness is becoming one of the most-talked about topics in the U.S. workforce and therefore one of the fastest-growing investment areas by HR companies. The U.S. corporate wellness market is expected to reach about $15.5 billion by 2024. As companies face several pain points in creating, managing and achieving value from their wellness programs, there is an increase each year of corporate wellness companies entering the marketplace.
Wellness program managers seek partners and tools to address multi-faceted health challenges for their employees: fitness, nutrition, mental wellness, team-building and more. 83 percent of wellness budgets focus on preventative wellness in comparison to actual medical treatment. This covers the aforementioned challenges, with a less obvious goal to also create a positive work culture for employees. The two general approaches for wellness programs are based on one of two concepts: services or technology. Services refers to courses or classes instructed by real-time interaction with professionals, while technology allows for virtual access to wellness services.
To Tech or Not to Tech? Benefits and Drawbacks
The service-based approach offers many attractive benefits to employees:
Ability to bring employees to common sites and activities
Higher retention rates for participation due to activities that foster connection and accountability
As well as drawbacks...
Lack of flexibility in scheduling, experience levels
Lack of privacy- some employees prefer at-home activities vs. group yoga with coworkers
Lack of resources- companies may not have the space or supplies to host wellness programs in-house
Tech-based solutions also offer some good perks:
Wide variety of mobile solutions, such as personal training, nutrition and meditation applications, tracking devices
Truly mobile, offering flexibility and privacy for all employees
But they also fall short in important areas..
Lack of intimacy and/or community
Drop off in motivation- employees are often excited to start, but unlikely to stick with a program
Conclusion? The future of successful corporate wellness programs lies in a hybrid approach!
Combining the benefits of tech-based and services based approaches allows HR and wellness managers to utilize wellness as a tool for overall improvements in company culture and of course, wellness. Digital offerings that are supplemented by human guidance online and offline can triple participation and retention rates, resulting in real value for companies and their employees.
Interested in proving these assumptions, Reaction developed an experiment with their combined-approach platform. Groups were created within a wellness program based on interest-area (yoga, overall fitness and nutrition). Each group was supported by their coaches in onsite and offsite activities. Participants could attend onsite sessions, practice yoga or track wellness from the application’s offerings and more. The secret ingredient in the mix is the platform’s focus on engagement. Coaches can directly communicate with participants, while the employees are also encouraged to share their progress and challenge fellow employees within the platform; users are engaged and excited to share photos, comments and encouragements with one another. These community-driven aspects resulted in an average of 30% participation across organizations that used the platform, which is triple the industry average of less than 10%. Leadership on the platform can be driven by the coach or selected company management, allowing for flexibility and ownership of community.
The tech plus touch approach gives employees the freedom of choice in their wellness solutions while encouraging accountability. The convenience of the platform combined with the power of interpersonal relationships drives a positive company culture and a greater ROI when compared to the polarized offerings of most wellness programs.