The 2020 Trendsetters Guide to Employee Health & Wellness

January 30, 2020

In an effort to enable us be more culturally relevant, Twitter has released valuable data showing the fastest growing topics for 2020. Here is what they said:

“Today, we’re releasing hundreds of cultural insights from the conversation on Twitter, to inspire and empower brands to develop campaigns on the leading edge of shifts in consumer behavior and beliefs.”

To gather this data, Twitter analyzed billions of tweets over the past three years and have grouped into 6 overall themes. Machine learning was used to filter out common topics and fads and uncover a total of 18 specific trends that are rapidly evolving. The company says these reflect a fundamental shift in US culture and offer a glance into what matters to consumers as a new decade approaches.

One of the 6 themes described, is Well-Being. Conversations around body image, diet, and physical appearance are shifting to discussions around a healthy mind and whole-body wellness. Mind and mental health conversations are up 125%, while conversations around body and physical fitness are down 75%.

Trending topics in this area include:

1. Data-Driven Bodies
2. Holistic Health
3. Being Well Together

Diet and body image talk is no longer a topic of conversation. Instead, conversations have shifted to topics relating to mental health and wellness. This is a focus more on what your body does rather than how your body appears. The discussions around the mental well-being come at a time when depression is getting worse for young adults and remaining stagnant for adults. There are 10.3 million adults in the United States that have serious thoughts of suicide. Further, over 10 million adults state their mental health needs are not being met. Mental and overall health are linked together, and it is vital that both mental and overall health needs are satisfied.

This change in discussion away from physical appearance to well-being should not be ignored by companies and employers. Having employees that are holistically well leads to a plethora of benefits including employees that are more productive, have higher morale, have less stress, and get sick and injured less often. More productive employees with higher morale and higher retention rates increase revenue. Employees that are sick and injured less often will miss fewer days of work, and healthier employees can reduce health insurance costs. Additionally, companies can build a reputation for having an enjoyable work environment and prioritizing employees’ health. Having a robust wellness program helps recruit top, competitive candidates. Overall, addressing mental, emotional, and physical well being leads to employees that are happier and healthier and have plenty of benefits for the company.

How to Promote Mental Well-Being

Join the Discussion
Discussions around mental well-being are becoming more accepted in today’s society, but are often not accepted in the workplace. A big part of changing the culture in the workplace involves joining this shift in focus to mental well-being. Often times, this requires participation by company leadership. Creating a safe, open environment for employees to discuss mental illness with relevant people in the company is important. HR can play a vital role in engaging with these new topics of discussion by hosting a seminar or creating a company-wide memo on mental well-being or offering training in mental topics to managers and employees.

Offer an Employee Assistance Program
Companies can take advantage of this value and conversation shift to mental and overall well-being by offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a voluntary program offered by companies for employees to have access to counseling, confidential assessments, short-term assistance, and referrals for individuals with personal and work related issues. Employees are able to utilize this resource for health problems like anxiety, stress, depression, and substance abuse. Counselors can also work with managers and supervisors to create an environment that addresses the needs of employees and the company. The services offered with EAP will help employees manage and cope with personal and/or work situations that could influence their mental well-being.

Extend Health Insurance
Another route that companies can take is to extend health insurance to cover or better cover mental treatments. This includes offering insurance that covers visits to psychiatrists, clinical psychiatrists, and clinical social workers as well as prescriptions for medicine that is taken for mental illnesses. This provides employees with the option to proactively manage their mental well-being. Offering mental health days is another way for employees to ensure that they are prioritizing mental well-being.

Meditation and Mindfulness
Companies can offer employees resources for meditation and mindfulness classes and instruction. One option is to allow employees to take time out of the day to meditate or to offer a meditation room. Meditation can help reduce employees’ stress, anxiety, and depression and improve their mental state.


How to Promote Overall Well-Being

Social Activities
Offering social activities for employees to spend time with other colleagues outside of the formal work environment can greatly help with employees’ well-being. There are many types of activities that a company could organize, and the activities depend on employee preferences and company resources, but some examples of activities could include a book club, wine and cheese tasting, cookie decorating contest, and volunteer events. Organizing social gatherings allows for employees to bond and spend a part of their day smiling and laughing, which is crucial for overall well-being.

Workplace Environment
Employees spend most of their day in the office. An easy way to improve employees’ well-being is to ensure that the workplace is conducive for a healthy lifestyle. Adding plants in the office is a way to bring nature into the office, which will help with clean office air and productivity.

Movement and Exercise Options
While the shift in focus has gone away from physical fitness, movement and exercise are still a crucial component of well-being. Offering reimbursement to gyms or fitness activities is an easy way to incentivize employees to get some movement in their days. Additionally, companies can have office sponsored exercise activities such as yoga classes, jogging club, and Zumba classes. If employees tend to spend their days sitting at desks, companies can offer standing desk and treadmill desk options for employees to stand and move while still doing their work.

Collective Effort

HR can host seminars from industry experts to talk about mental and overall well-being to bring the entire company into the discussion. Stocking the kitchen with healthy, nutrient dense food is a way for everyone to partake in improving their overall well-being. Wellness retreats or healthy days can bring well-being into focus for the company and all employees and provide a space for ongoing conversation and collaboration among employees.

Overall, a company that addresses this shift in conversation away from physical appearance and diets to more holistic mental and physical well-being is sure to create an environment for happy and healthy employees. The benefits to taking steps towards improving employees’ mental state and well-being are immense including increased productivity, improved morale, and improved company reputation. Companies that take some of the steps outlined above will show their employees that the company cares and that it is paying attention to this change in conversation.