Angel Chelik by Angel Chelik

More and more companies are participating in wellness programs. Whether a business is small or large, there are things that companies of any size can do to provide the healthiest workplace for their staff. In 2015, business owners and executives should look toward these new trends to keep their employees healthy and happy.

1. Wearable Devices and Apps

While questions have been raised regarding the accuracy of wearable tracking devices, these products are hugely successful because they are techy and keep people dialed in to their daily physical activity. This, in turn, keeps them accountable and more likely to continue healthy habits over the long term. In 2015, employers will have the chance to enhance their wellness programs with products such as the Apple Watch and the Microsoft Band. Challenges utilizing these tools include tracking physical activity, sleep and food intake.

2. Affordable Care Act Implementation

January 1, 2014, was the date that the new “proposed rules” for wellness programs should have been implemented. People in the corporate wellness world got excited for big change, but we were let down. While the outline of these programs exists, the individual segments are still being worked out. Proper documentation, fiduciary liability and incentives are all items that are currently being tweaked. Additionally, there was a purported $200 million in grants for small businesses to start wellness programs, but the kinks are still being worked out for that as well. I don’t want to sound like a “Negative Nancy” though—these glitches will be worked out in the next few months. Insurance brokers will be able to walk employers through these programs and help them determine what’s best for the business and their employees. The incentive of reducing the cost of coverage by 20 to 30 percent is a big deal and will greatly impact a business’s bottom line.

3. The Move More Movement

Americans sit way too much. Not only is the standard workday longer, American’s are now spending even more time at home working after hours. This sedentary behavior leads to “sitting disease,” a cluster of health issues ranging from an increased risk of diabetes to a lack of focus and attention on the job. Employers are recognizing how this affects their bottom line and will make great strides to improve the work environment for their employees. You can expect to see an increase in standing workstations like the Readydesk, and treadmill desks such as TrekDesk. Fitness instructors will be teaching classes onsite during lunch hours. Employers will recommend walk breaks or “recess,” where employees are encouraged to grab a friend, play ping-pong or throw a frisbee around. Gone are the days of smoke breaks and eating lunch at your desk as you work. The upcoming year will be all about getting employees up and active during the workday.

4. Company Culture Revamp

Ask an employee how their health is negativity impacted at work and they will likely mention the food in the office and/or break room. Sweets and savory goodies bought by employers or brought in by employees can easily sabotage a healthy diet. In an informal survey I did, I found that it’s not uncommon for midsize companies to spend hundreds of dollars a month on soda, candy, doughnuts, etc. As employers learn more about the dangers of excess sugar, they will begin to reevaluate their stance on junk food in the workplace. Some easy ways to implement change is to replace sodas with glass pitchers of lemon or cucumber water and replace the candy bowl with a fruit bowl. Put Friday morning bagel money toward buying a smoothie blender. Healthy changes initiated by top executives shows they value the health and well being of their employees.