Commentators are quick to point out that the online age has transformed our working lives beyond recognition, and that digital transformation is the key to success.
This is all well and good – anyone can see the impact that the technological revolution has had on our lives, both at home and at work. However, in the brave new world of the 21st century, it is easy to forget that the human factor remains of crucial importance. A company’s biggest asset is still its people; this is as true today as it has ever been.
In fact, you could argue that it is more important in the modern paradigm than ever before – the digital age has expanded the marketplace and reduced barriers to entry, leading to unprecedented levels of competition in every industry.
Businesses need to be on top of their game and to leverage every available resource in order to succeed – and in many cases, getting the most out of that most valuable asset can make all the difference.
While this should not come as news to a successful business, there is a growing recognition that the typical working routine of sitting hunched up and staring at a small screen for hours on end is not wholly beneficial. Welcome to the world of corporate wellness, in which businesses promote employee health, and in so doing are enhancing their most prized assets.
Wellness is defined as more than just the absence of illness. Wellness programs seek to maintain the body in the best possible condition, meaning that individuals are functioning at their best so that they feel healthier, more motivated, and are able to sustain better productivity.
At the broadest level, this is achieved through encouraging healthy activities to counter the adverse effects of the sedentary office work that is central to the modern business environment.
Companies championing wellness programs
Today, there are more companies than ever offering corporate wellness programs. The latest Aflac report indicated that almost 50 percent of the businesses that it sampled offer some such program to their employees, compared with just 30 percent in 2012.
The list of employers that are embracing corporate wellness reads like a who’s who of the most successful players in the digital era, which really tells its own story.
Google is often presented as a benchmark in the area of employee benefits, and its wellness program is no exception.
Programs are quite literally supported by the availability of copper fit clothing, which can be purchased at a discounted rate through an online store, to help employees get the most out of these wellness initiatives.
Other high-profile companies with well-established employee wellness programs include the likes of American Express, Dell, and Hewlett Packard. The indication that employee health and wellness directly affects the overall health of the employing company is hard to ignore.
Types of wellness program
The variety of activities on offer is as broad as the companies providing them. Wellness is not all about gym sessions and charity runs. Simple measures such as providing natural light, ergonomic workspaces, and even adding some plants and greenery to the office can make a difference.
Other examples include initiatives that encourage employees to stop smoking, lose weight, or participate in preventative health screenings. Given the ever-increasing cost of medical care in corporate America, it is easy to see how such projects present a win-win situation for employers and employees alike.
However, it is certainly the more proactive and fitness-related aspects of wellness that are more likely to attract attention. A growing number of companies offer heavily subsidized gym subscriptions, and many of today’s more forward-thinking employers even have gym facilities on-site for a little lunchtime workout.
More and more of the traditional team-building away trips that companies offer have a fitness theme, covering everything from impromptu dance contests to “iron man”-style obstacle races and athletic challenges. Like it or not, the days when corporate events were all about a few presentations followed by free-flowing drinks and food are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Corporate wellness is also an ideal route into fulfilling other aspects of a business’s corporate social responsibility commitments. For example, “cycle to work” schemes serve to reduce environmental impact, and charity runs can help businesses contribute to local community causes.
A healthy workforce means a healthy business
Ultimately, corporate wellness programs make sense on every level for employers, employees, and the wider community. Little wonder, then, that they are here to stay and form an increasingly important component of every successful business’s strategy in the 21st century.