Changing Wellness Landscape and Trends in the coming year 2022
As the world enters into the last throes of 2022 and a new year beckons, we still can’t help but deal with the impact left by this pandemic. Enough has been said about how the pandemic has made us think and re-evaluate to the point of “The Great Resignation” movement.
Across the world and in India – a range of factors, including restrictions on social contact, lockdowns, economic insecurity, and school and business closures, have contributed to a steep rise in cases of depression and anxiety. I happened to experience this tremendous anxiety as a single parent, where one was forced to make a choice of a job where I could be financially safe, and take care of my livelihood. And it was alright to feel this panic!
Human beings at work are both- head and heart. Both of these areas have so many variables which make them so real and unique. Before the pandemic, we were tiptoeing around boundaries concerning one’s professional life. But COVID compelled us to accept more of who we are beyond the professional image we carry and to accept that we have anxieties and insecurities, and the innate need to not feel- “well” or “okay”.
One of the biggest positive outcomes from this situation has been people talking about their well-being far more than ever. Conversations around this subject have skyrocketed on social media in the last few months, as everyone is becoming more health-conscious. Companies have started the balance in this equation:
Total Wellbeing= Happy Employees = Higher-Performance = Better Business Productivity
What is wellness?
It is different for different people. Wellness is a holistic conversation involving 8 dimensions- physical, financial, social, emotional, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual. Having experienced this in life, I believe financial wellness is a crucial pillar of this framework by the University of California.
Your physical wellness involves maintaining a healthy body using diet, an exercise routine, and hygiene rituals. Social wellness is an indication of how happy you feel while interacting with others. Emotional wellness is when you are satisfied with your feelings without any internal imbalance. Occupational wellness translates to your satisfaction with your occupation. Intellectual wellness is the satisfaction you have with different mental stimulations. Your spiritual wellness kind of gathers up, it refers to being at peace with oneself and the surroundings. Environmental wellness is about the balance with the surroundings around us, and how we honor our relationship with nature and community through the way we lead our life. Financial wellness is about ensuring financial planning for emergencies, medical and unforeseen circumstances are outlined well.
To put it in simple words, wellness is the pursuit of well-being in all areas of our lives. For instance, when we eat healthy every day, we try to establish physical wellness. Similar emotional, financial, social, physical, mental, professional, financial, and spiritual habits dictate how we pursue wellness.
More and more companies are planning around these 8 pillars to ensure that our employees have a feeling of well-being.
So What Will Impact Trends In 2022?
Focus on wellness as part of the overall benefits
As part of HR planning, a holistic look at balance to make an employee feel secure is imperative. Example- appropriate medical cover, protection cover, medical programs which include emotional wellness have become a hygiene factor.
Health, social, spiritual wellness integrated with employee engagement
Walkathons, stepper counts, Fitbit, diet, mindfulness, and more importantly, social wellness have taken and will take more centerstage. Meditative hours or breaks are welcome, and it is no longer seen as the “HR thing”. At Bharti AXA for example – under the CEO endorsed agenda we run the program “We Care”- a holistic program that caters to all 7 pillars and is built in as part of the engagement agenda.
Structured digital detox, focused breaks for meal mindfulness, and maintaining a healthy regime are all part of the culture. A recently launched program “FriYaY ensured social connect with employees in a fun way through live bands, music gigs, and improv sessions. It’s a good motivator for a hybrid workforce helping build relationships and productivity.
More acceptance of mental health
Mental health isn’t something that is fixed with a pill. This is a topic that needs more awareness. While there are conversations, I don’t see enough awareness about acceptance in a real sense. What if a potential candidate has a past history of depression or is going through it now. Should they be hired? Or as a manager, what should be the ideal response? What support can be provided? Is this treated as an illness?
The area around this is still grey. Speaking from personal experience, my son went through both anxiety and depression and I struggled with creating acceptance around this in schools. Through all these efforts, my son made a statement that stuck with me, “Why am I expected to switch off my anxiety or will a week’s break solve it?” He is being homeschooled this year and this has prompted explanations from friends and family and prospective schools. To which his statement was, “If this was a physical illness, would it have as much scrutiny?”
At the workplace too, acceptance of mental health calls for more genuine empathy and inclusion efforts. It’s crucial our education system addresses this if we sincerely want to take the “wellness bus” and operate with our whole being. We need to be able to create venting zones to allow one to feel psychologically safe to vent, reach out, and not be judged.
The need for wellness is here to stay
If anything, the pandemic has opened the doors to discuss one’s well-being and the instrumental role it plays in living holistically. The transition from wellness to well-being takes a great amount of honest effort. From a business perspective, it is investing in employees to enhance their lifestyle, giving them opportunities to strike a balance between the personal and professional, and then anticipating great ROI. Because only an empowered workforce can give their best!
*References: McKinsey, Hindustan times, Deloitte Benefits Survey 20-21, University of California.