4 Corporate wellness trends in 2019:Changing approaches to employee well-being

| 19 Dec 2018

Derek Goldberg, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Aetna International, shares with Asia Advisers Network in this article what changes we can expect in corporate wellness next year.

We’re seeing more companies investing in wellness programmes paired with incentives to help keep their employees engaged. Come 2024, the APAC region can expect a corporate wellness market worth US$7.4 billion.

Separately, studies have shown that companies neglecting corporate wellness across the territories of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and The Philippines, had productivity losses totaling US$44.6 billion within a fiscal year.

Corporate well-being is increasingly entrenched in workplace cultures and strategies. A happier and healthier workforce enables higher productivity and job satisfaction. Healthier workplaces can also help to attract desirable talent into the stable and encourage employees to stay for the longer term.

These programmes not only directly benefit the workforce on your payroll, they also make corporations appealing to shareholders. The opposite is just as true – companies that neglect their employees are likely to bear the consequences publicly, with prominent examples facing immense pressure from shareholders and having to restructure C-level management.

Firms today should no longer wonder if corporate wellness is necessary, but instead ask how they can do better.


1) Increasing demand for and investment in well-being support

With the increased uptake of corporate well-being programmes, both employers and staff are less cynical or skeptical about broader wellness concepts beyond physical health concerns, such as mental health issues resulting from work, and balancing job security with personal commitments. This trend has led to a growing demand for both health and wellness support from employers.

Corporations with well-being initiatives are also moving their budgets towards personalising these benefits. To budget effectively, studying the results of current programmes would point out the best health outcomes for staff. It’s no longer unusual to see unique coverage for employees working in specific departments to boost productivity and profitability.

2) Diversification of corporate wellness support

We’re also transitioning from the conventional understanding of wellness - eating right, exercising more - towards integrating these components into a broader umbrella of holistic health. More employers regard emotional and mental health as a necessary part of corporate well-being. Health insurance companies are also increasingly providing programme add-ons that support holistic health from a mental, physical, and spiritual perspective. We are receiving more requests from HR professionals for initiatives that better cater to specific roles of employees.

3) More holistic measures of effectiveness

From an organisational perspective, employers want to lower employee turnover and improve performance. Two key data points help to gauge the effectiveness of corporate wellness programmes. Are we collecting the right data to show whether people are happier, healthier and more productive? And, are we getting the right people on to the right programmes?

The first component requires an analysis of an individual’s needs, and involves defining personalised care at the right time. The second element measures their achievements against overall health goals, observing levels of productivity and absenteeism.

Considered in totality, these measures can help employees feel more secure about their personal wellness even as they throw themselves into their work.

4) Personalisation of wellness in workplaces

Currently, corporate wellness programmes are mostly personalised to the level of specific groups rather than individuals. This means individuals are enrolled in wellness programmes with like-minded others and those with similar well-being issues.  

However, with more data from existing programmes, we can move towards building solutions with increasingly bespoke aspects.

We recognise that some of these improvements can be forged through technology, collectively known as “wellness tech”. There are many digital wellness tools on the market, but for them to work effectively, they need to be entertaining, interactive and engaging – most importantly, meaningful to the individual.

Both companies and their service providers have a key role as educators and guides to ensure employers and employees are getting the very best from their healthcare provider.

Potential challenges as corporate wellness evolves

As an evolving concept, one new challenge would be proving the success of every personalised programme.

The outcomes from these tools are long-term or life-long, making it difficult to quantify specific successes from a health and health care standpoint. Companies want to know: ‘Is this wellness programme actually reducing my costs?’

While we can measure engagement, satisfaction, even stress and blood pressure reduction, companies are seeking to find new methods to directly tie bespoke corporate well-being to claim cost avoidance.

As we continue to explore these solutions to corporate wellness, we should be able to see a more defined measurement in the next five years.

Aetna International is one of the largest providers of international health benefits and services.  


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