Corporate wellness isn’t a new concept. Johnson & Johnson’s Live for Life program, often referenced as the prototype for corporate worksite wellness programs, was started in 1979 and was seen as groundbreaking; offering their employees on-site access to behavior modification tools and educating them on topics such as stress management, nutrition.
Since then corporate wellness programs have become the norm for many US-based companies (with more then 50 employees). A report sponsored by U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and produced by The RAND Corporation found that over 80% of companies in the US with over fifty employees offered some sort of corporate wellness benefit. In the UK, it is estimated that only 45% of companies currently offer workplace wellness schemes however this is on the rise with a recent report suggesting that the average number of annual working days per staff member lost to absenteeism or presenteeism has risen from 23 to 30 thus encouraging more companies to invest in wellness.
A report from Harvard Business School found that for American-based companies, their medical expenses fell by $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and that employee absenteeism expenses fell by $2.73. A recent report by German psychologist Sabine Sonnentag showed that wellness programs boost productivity, reduce stress, and increase employee engagement and communication.
An abundance of research suggests that when incorporated correctly, bringing fitness and mindfulness practices into the workweek provide a myriad of benefits for employers and employees alike. Zoe Eccleston, founder of TheWellbeingBusiness and corporate wellness industry veteran who has advised large corporates from British Gas, PepsiCo, Bloomberg and many more explains that herein lies the problem. Many corporate wellbeing programs are not thought through, they are not front and center and are reaching employees too late in their wellbeing cycle. She added that well-planned programs implemented after careful consideration with specific outcomes always return on any investment made.
With plenty of room for innovation and a general acceleration of the amenitization of the modern workplace, the industry has seen a major growth spurt over the past five years.
Now, in 2019, corporate wellness startups and more established players are pushing the market forward, offering increased efficiency and customization for forward-thinking companies looking to scale corporate wellness programming. So who are some of these key players, and what are their insights on the industry’s recent growth?
Here are some of the innovators approaching corporate wellbeing from different perspectives to watch out for:
Headquartered in New York, Exubrancy, an on-site wellness with more than 500 US and UK-based corporate clients, dispatches an extensive network of accredited wellness professionals to lead weekly on-site programming for employees. Exubrancy was founded in 2013 out of the Columbia University Startup Lab by Liz Wilkes, a serial entrepreneur, and was acquired by Tishman Speyer in 2017. Exubrancy works with corporate leaders to tailor wellness programs that fit the needs of their culture – there is no one size fits all corporate wellness Wilkes believes. These often include a blend of on-site fitness classes, meditation session, chair massage sessions, and special events like rescue puppy visits, pop-up smoothie bars, and Beyonce dance classes. In addition, Exubrancy works with clients to design, build, and staff wellness spaces like fitness centers and relaxation rooms for their offices.
BurnAlong, founded in 2016, offers a more technology-oriented approach, providing company-wide fitness challenges and workout tutorials through a mobile app. BurnAlong CEO Daniel Freedman notes that “corporate wellness is moving from being a nice perk to a must-have; from a fun, team-building wellness event here-and-there to a 24/7 opportunity.” Freedman, like many founders in the wellbeing sector got into the space after witnessing “Family members and close friends who have really struggled with major health challenges, and who often didn’t receive the right programming and motivation to overcome those.” He firmly believes that “A major responsibility to help lies with employers who are largely responsible for their health insurance and the programming they do or don’t receive.
UK based BetterSpace, founded in late 2017 has a mission is to help everyone to improve and protect their mental health. Currently running 100-day mental health sprints with different companies as they are pre-launch they are achieving incredibly high metrics of an 80% engagement rate where the average Employee Assistance Program (EAP) falls well below 40%. BetterSpace prides itself on finding the A-Z of things that you are good for your mental wellbeing and their huge variety. In their recent trial with 50 Linklaters employees, over 100 days, the participants used 114 different resources, which emphasizes that there is no silver bullet that works for everyone. In addition, 81% of participants found something that they said they would continue to use after. As their founder, Jim Woods says “it makes prevention a real prospect”.
Similarly, InsideOut25 is focused on mental health. Founded by Laura Stembridge in early 2018 after experiencing her own battles with poor mental health in the workplace. Stembridge identified the need for better access to support services and improved culture and attitudes towards mental health in the workplace. Currently being tested by Wazoku, Sanlam, Wilson Wright and other professional service firms, InsideOut is changing the way mental health care is provided in the workplace by providing on-demand tools and diagnostics that match employees with personalized content and therapists and coaches in an app that uses video calls to enable employees to access therapy anywhere, anytime, any place. In addition, what makes them so different to other mental health workplace providers is that they also provide workshops and training courses that teach employees and managers alike about mental health and equip them with the tools they need to support colleagues and combat mental health workplace stigma.
Source: Meet The Latest Innovators In The Space
By Serena Oppenheim, Contributor
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