It does not matter which name you use for it — corporate wellness, workplace wellness or employee wellness. The facts are clear that this is not only a rapidly growing business trend, but also an essential part of what companies offer their employees. And there are very clear reasons (and also financial incentives) behind this. The US employee wellness services industry is valued at almost 8 billion dollars and is expected to grow by nearly 8% annually through 2021. On a global scale, the industry is worth over 40 billion dollars. However, one must also note that less than 10% of the global workforce has access to any kind of workplace wellness programmes…

What is workplace wellness?

Help in defining workplace wellness is provided by the US CDC. Its definition is simple and accurate: “A workplace health program is a health promotion activity or organization-wide policy designed to support healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes while at work. These programs consist of activities such as health education and coaching, weight management programs, medical screenings, on-site fitness programs, and more”.

But the devil is in the details. Employee wellness means something different in each company. Every employer has their own approach towards it and different scopes of activities or services offered as part of such programmes. They might include free or subsidized gym memberships, yoga classes, cooking classes, health seminars, incentives to quit smoking, cash bonuses for people bicycling to work, exclusively healthy food in the office cafeteria and even friendly competitions held among employees.

As healthy as an Okimonian

Workplace wellness programmes also benefit from the development of modern technologies, especially wearables and connected apps that analyse user data. This information can later be used to set personal activity goals or develop office challenges for groups of employees. And this is exactly how it is done at Okimo Clinic. All Okimonians have fitness wristbands and challenges were set to motivate us to achieve certain wellness goals. These ranged from taking a certain number of steps (during the day or week as a whole) to exercising and getting enough sleep.

Okimonians are also testing special high-tech glasses that block blue light and are intended to help in getting good rest at night while offering other benefits like decreased eye strain. Our company refrigerator is also packed with fresh dairy products, which anyone can grab when they are hungry, and fresh fruit is available daily too. There is even a standing desk for those of us who are busy with work, but would like to stretch their legs. But don’t assume we have become completely health crazy. We do sneak in a coffee or a sweet if we feel the need for them.

Why is this important?

This is more of a rhetorical question — all of us should know the main benefits of being healthy. Proponents of workplace wellness argue that being part of a bigger group working towards a healthier lifestyle facilitates the achievement of goals. These range from weight loss and quitting smoking to better sleep habits and lower stress levels.

From a business perspective, research shows that workplace wellness programmes make employees happier about their jobs, thus elevating company morale. Simultaneously, absentee rates drop significantly and productivity rises. The numbers don’t lie — we are speaking about a 28% reduction in sick leave days and 26% reduction in medical costs for companies with employee wellness programmes. But, as internal surveys show, Okimonians are already quite satisfied with their jobs and the Okimo Clinic atmosphere. So, for us, this was more of a case of friendly, internal competition and motivating each other to stay fit and well rested. You do not have to take our word for this. In a followup blog post, we will show how we actually implement (and enjoy) our wellness initiatives.