• Elizabeth Harris

Adapting Corporate Wellness Programs For The Challenges Of Covid-19

Covid-19 has thrown the issue of employee wellness into sharp relief. For employers, new emphasis has been placed on the health and wellness of their workforce. As well as the immediate need to prevent the spread of the virus, employers have also faced new challenges relating to mental and physical health as a result of remote work.

Wellness while working from home

With gyms and health centres closed and more employees working from home full-time, corporate wellness programs have had to adapt to provide new offerings for their clients. The majority of these changes have involved digitising existing programs. Corporate wellness firms have begun including remote wellness opportunities such as online fitness events, cooking demos, and even video call consultations with dieticians, therapists and health coaches into their portfolios.

The challenges posed by remote work are also changing the needs of employees as their lifestyles adapt. More emphasis has been placed on movement and stretching with some firms recommending specific exercises for coping with the effects of unsuitable home office set-ups. This is partly aimed at avoiding common insurance claims for lower back pain and other widespread issues associated with desk-based work.

Fostering a remote community

Corporate wellness programs have also identified the challenge of employee sociability in the new remote working world. Working from home has been linked to increased feelings of social isolation.

As a result, community involvement has become a key issue for many corporate wellness programs. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of online social wellness events aimed at bringing people together and increasing the sense of connection and engagement. In conjunction, managers are being urged to take a more active approach in the wellbeing of their employees.

Managing chronic conditions

Further, businesses are addressing the management and prevention of chronic conditions among their workforce as access to healthcare services is disrupted. Wellness programs are addressing this through greater encouragement in interactive programs that encourage movement and dietary management.

As well as these more generalist approaches, employers are also looking to offer condition-specific management programs. These more personalised offerings are aimed at a select group of employees who are in need of these services, adding another tier to corporate wellness during the pandemic.

Exploring new technologies

The methods corporate wellness firms use to reach out to workforces has also expanded. As part of their ‘Covid-19 employee wellness toolkit’, Wellable now offers text message updates, Covid-19 focussed newsletters and webinars.

As employers come to terms with remote working, all aspects of employee management are under review. As well as maintaining productivity and efficient contact with employees, there is also renewed emphasis on mental health and wellbeing. In the face of these challenges, corporate wellness programs are pivoting to expand their offerings and provide new avenues for wellness.

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