Exploring the theme

To truly achieve a holistic employee wellness program, employers must take into account all aspects of well-being: physical, financial, social, mental, and emotional health.  This evolution is consistent with the work of Sir Mason Durie who developed the Te Whare Tapa Whā model for health and wellbeing. This model includes taha wairua [spiritual], taha hinengaro [mental and emotional], taha tinana [physical], taha whānau [family and social] and whenua [land, roots].

Mental health is at the top of everyone’s mind this year. Many employers plan to invest more in this area so that they are well-equipped to address this part of well-being for their employees. Even before the pandemic struck, the vast majority of especially Gen Z and Millennial employees said that employers should have a mental health work policy in place. Unsurprisingly, the interest in employees’ mental health increased even further this year. The pandemic has had a big impact on people’s working conditions, often creating a lot of additional stress and/or anxiety. 

Safe workplaces. While safety used to encompass avoiding workplace accidents and injury, workplace safety in 2021 has taken on a whole new meaning. In 2021, it’s all about ensuring your workplace has a COVID-safe plan and a clear protocol for scenarios like a worker becoming infected with COVID. The vaccine on the horizon also poses difficult questions for employers about safety.

Social Connection. While many employees have reported loving the flexibility of remote work, there’s no doubt many miss the connection of the workplace. It’s the small things like the daily quiz and having someone to vent to about the little things. These things are tricky to replicate virtually.

Personalised wellness. With an increasingly diverse workforce we see an increased focus on personalization of employee wellbeing approaches. Examples include health coaching, on-demand fitness classes, and self-care subscription services. Personalization already made sense before Covid-19 hit but now, with many employees working remotely, it has become even more of a no-brainer. 

Employee financial wellness has been on the agenda of employers for a while now. Financial wellness refers to a person’s overall financial health and the absence of money-related stress. Research suggests that employees who worry about their finances also miss almost twice as many days per year compared to their colleagues who are money-worry-free. The Covid pandemic hasn’t helped people’s financial wellness either. Some of us may have a partner who’s lost their job, or perhaps the company we work for is struggling financially and unable to increase pay or make bonus payments.  

Family wellness programs is a trend that isn’t necessarily on the workplace wellness trends radar of many companies yet, but it may very well get there this year. Family wellness is especially relevant now with a lot of parents working from home.  Apart from Covid-related challenges, a person’s family tends to have a big impact on their health and wellness. If an employee’s home life is healthy, happy, supportive, etc. this will positively affect their work-life (and vice versa).

Stress management/resilience  Sadly, workplace stress has been something many employees were already familiar with before the pandemic. With the arrival of Covid-19, stress levels have reached unprecedented levels which is probably why so many companies are planning to invest more in stress management and resilience this year.  The prospect of wide-scale employee burnout is a major concern for many employers.