• Sarah-Jane Kavanagh

2018 Trends for Workplace Wellbeing

Workplace wellbeing and staff wellness programs are growing rapidly. The past decade has shown a boom in workplace wellness programs globally, as organisations try to keep up with the expectations of their employees.

A recent study of global employers by Buck Consultants, a XEROX company, indicates that supporting employees’ total wellbeing has become a “business imperative”. The study, Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies also points out areas where wellbeing programs have had the most impact and wellness offerings with the most potential.

No longer restricted to physical health and fitness, these programs have expanded dramatically to address additional determinants of wellbeing including sleep, stress, finance, social relationships and even spirituality.

2018 also brings the promise of plentiful innovation. To hire and retain candidates who are more demanding than ever before, it is vital for organisations to be aware of what these individuals are looking for in the workplace.

Here we have assembled the top predictions for workplace wellbeing in 2018:

  • Emotional Wellbeing

The Buck Consultants’ report cites stress reduction as one of the top three issues driving wellness program designs. Plus, it is also becoming well documented that employee happiness is a crucial factor in productivity, loyalty, and effectiveness.

In 2017 the trend to take emotional wellbeing soared and this year will see this trend reach new heights. Perhaps for the first time, businesses will focus on emotional well-being as much as physical wellbeing, offering meditation rooms, positive psychology, resilience and stress management workshops.

  • Mindfulness

According to a survey by Harvard psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, people spend close to 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing at the moment. This is where a tool like mindfulness comes in handy, allowing people to increase their present moment awareness. The same can also help reduce overall stress levels in the workplace and improve the quality of interactions that employees have with each other.

Mindfulness training courses are becoming the norm in larger corporations where companies find that mindfulness reduces stress and absenteeism, increases productivity and develops better leaders. This trend is going to keep growing this year and will feature highly at the senior level with mindful leaders who champion mindfulness.

  • Work-Life Integration

As the line between personal and work-life blurs, employees often feel overwhelmed, depleted and disengaged. With the help of workplace well-being programs, managing both office and personal lives can become easier.

With Australian companies creating innovative work-life integration programs, employees will be empowered to work on personal tasks in the work setting and vice versa. They will be able to work in a non-traditional location, outside the norm of 9-5.

Millennials, for instance, are eager to find purpose in their professions and are not hesitant to engage in personal tasks while working, but are happy to work during the day, night or weekends. This setting also provides for more flexible, avant-garde work environments and increased amenities. This trend is likely to continue as more employers provide tools to make sure that employees can integrate work and personal life effectively.

  • Sleep Awareness Programs

Australia is in the midst of a sleep deprivation epidemic that is costing the workforce about $26.2 billion in financial costs. The report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation also allotted another $40.1 billion in the loss of wellbeing. Between 33 and 45 percent of Australians have poor sleep patterns leading to fatigue and irritability at work.

With this in mind, workplace wellbeing will focus more on developing sleep awareness and education programs.

Healthy employees are productive employees, and the importance of nutritious eating for employee wellbeing is now well-recognised. Since most employees have at least one meal at work, nutrition education programs can help support reduced sick leave and increased productivity.

Forward-thinking companies have already implemented such programs into their corporate wellness plans, and the prediction stands that more will follow suit. Along with conducting information sessions and workshops onsite, another trend that will take off is that of health-food vending machines.

  • Moving from ME to WE culture

This is an interesting prediction with a shift in focus from an internal competitive mindset to a collaborative approach. While it is natural that individuals work from a single vantage point- their own, companies are now looking to develop better and stronger teams that are built on trust.

The idea is to cultivate a workplace of diverse ideas and personalities where all employees are valued for who they are, as well as what they contribute. With corporate success dependant on team performance, this trend will continue to grow.

Another prediction for corporate wellness in 2018 is that focus will include leadership skills. Thisis important for as much as 70% of organisational culture comes from its leaders. Though statistics vary regionally, many employees with a ‘bad boss’ report feeling de-motivated at work. Bad management is also often pointed out as one of the top reasons for employees becoming stressed at work, or worse, leaving organisations altogether.

An engaged employee is 44% more productive than a satisfied worker, but an employee who feels inspired at work is nearly 125% more productive than a satisfied one. The companies that inspiremore employees perform better than the rest.

Wellness programs devised for senior leaders will help ensure that they model positive wellbeing practices in the workplace. HSG’s new strategic consulting plan, ‘Creating a Culture of Wellness’, ensures that an organisation’s wellbeing program is in alignment with the company’s mission, vision and values.


Wellbeing initiatives are vital to high performance. With a focus on lowering cognitive overload and practising healthy lifestyle habits, wellbeing initiatives serve as a compelling talent attraction and retention tool, thus improving productivity. Leading Australian companies indicate that workplace wellness is a core of company culture, rather than just an add-on through their benefits program.

First published in Holistic Services Group

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