5 Workplace Wellness Trends to Act on in 2022

The workplace wellness trends emerging so far in 2022 send a clear message about what employees are expecting from their employers. Staying abreast of the most current workplace wellness trends can prove impactful for organizations seeking to retain current employees, boost employee engagement and retention, and attract new talent. Here are a few we believe deserve extra attention right now:

 

Support for Mental Health & Wellbeing

This first trend has received a lot of buzz to date. In a 2021 American Psychological Association (APA) study, 79% of employees said they had experienced some degree of work-related stress in the last month, with roughly 6 in 10 saying they experienced negative impacts from that stress.

While supports like employee assistance plans and telehealth therapy are integral parts to a well-rounded benefits package and should be prioritized, companies should look to other stress-reduction methods to supplement, such as livestream yoga or t’ai chi classes, or on-demand mindfulness meditation practices. In our experience working on-site and virtually with employees over the past decade, these supplemental yet impactful practices help employees to feel more resilient in the face of stress and give them something to look forward to each week.

Another possible avenue for mental health support is through wellness webinars. A great strategy is to offer a bundle of monthly or quarterly webinars on topics related to self-care and stress management.

Diversity in Well-Being Offerings

When it comes to workplace wellbeing offerings, one of the common challenges is that employees all need a little something different – because some of the variables of being human include gender, race, sexual orientation, family structure, religious background and lifestyle, to name just a few – we are all different. It is important for leaders to recognize this and offer a diverse array of wellness offerings to connect with as many employees as possible. Doing so can help them to feel seen and heard, which can boost feelings of psychological safety at work.

We expect this trend will take the corporate wellness landscape further into a focus on holistic programming, which recognizes and prioritizes the whole person and all dimensions of wellbeing.

Employee Benefits will Become a Key Employee Retention Tool

In 2021, “The Great Resignation” took center stage, as many employees vacated their positions in search of greener pastures. This has prompted a wake-up call for employers and led to a re-imagining of the workplace. Employees want to be heard by their employers. Employers can encourage healthy feedback loops by survey employees and taking action on the data they receive.

Community Connection & Engagement

Employee engagement continues to be a challenge in our hybrid world. How can you bring employees together? One option we advocate for is offering livestream workplace wellness classes, which give employees the opportunity to come together for something other than a meeting – in a space for self-care and connection.  Try scheduling classes in for your employees as meetings to increase the likelihood that they’ll attend. Make it fun and don’t hesitate to incentivize them!

Increased Interest in Financial Wellness Offerings

Financial stress impacts employees’ emotional wellbeing. According to a 2019 report by Metlife, 1 in 3 employees admits their financial stress makes them less productive at work. Some of today’s top stressors include lack of emergency savings, keeping up with monthly expenses and being laid off. For companies, this can mean lost revenue, absenteeism, and high turnover.

Research shows that providing financial wellness support can increase employee engagement and even loyalty to their company. Per this PWC study and analysis, more than 80% of employers report having a financial wellness program in place, however many of these are traditional programs focused on retirement education and other planning programs that aren’t addressing the current, real causes of employees’ financial stress.

 

 

How to Deliver Workplace Wellness Programs that Work

The first step to delivering impactful employee wellness programming is to start by gathering data. Survey employees to find out what they need and deliver based on those responses. Remove as many barriers to participation as possible. Make wellness offerings creative, interesting, and easily accessible no matter where employees are working from. Finally, be sure to measure the impact the offerings had, through participation tracking and surveys.

 

In Conclusion

To position your company for success in the face of a competitive job market, hybrid work environment and ongoing global uncertainty, improving employee wellbeing must be top-of-mind. Employee wellbeing is the key to a profitable, sustainable business. Corporate HR and employee benefits teams should find ways to meet the needs expressed by these trends and most importantly, deliver in a way that is authentic and in alignment with the overall culture your unique company is looking to promote.

 

Find out how Urban Balance’s Workplace Wellness services can enhance your employee benefits program when you contact us for a complimentary consultation.

 

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon Metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide.

We deliver livestream and on-demand yoga, Pilates, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

Ways to Boost Mental Fitness in the Workplace

Ways to Increase Mental Fitness in the Workplace

Have you heard the term “mental fitness” and wondered if it involved lifting tiny weights with your brain? Thankfully it doesn’t, but mental fitness training can enhance our ability to move through many of the challenges we encounter at work and at home – an area where many employees are needing support right now.


What is mental fitness?

Critical to our ability to thrive and reach our full potential, mental fitness can be defined as a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which we are in touch with how we think, feel and act. Just like physical fitness, mental fitness is something we can all strengthen and improve over the course of our lives. There is an array of skills, lifestyle habits, and practices that can help boost our mental fitness and increase resiliency so we can manage stress and cope with challenges.


What does being mentally fit look and feel like?

A few common indicators include:

  • A positive sense of how we think, feel, and behave
  • Living in the present moment more of the time
  • Resiliency in dealing with stressors as they arise
  • Experiencing flow states more of the time
  • Laser-focused attention and a clearer mind
  • Clarity about who you are and how you want to be
  • Eagerness to take on new challenges and show up in your life
  • Ability to creatively problem-solve

What are some ways to increase mental fitness?

Meditate or otherwise practice mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness practices encourage relaxation as you engage in contemplation. Regular meditation may increase your ability to focus, decrease anxiety, and help you approach life with greater intention.

Look at your “information diet”
Pay attention to what types of media you’re consuming on a regular basis. What is the overall quality of your “diet”? Notice the quality of thoughts that are flowing through your consciousness each day. Kinder, more compassionate thoughts help to develop a more optimistic mindset which in turn supports positive action.

Focus on Nutrition
It’s hard to focus or feel mentally engaged when our bodies aren’t getting enough nutrients. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet to follow as each body has different needs, concentrate on eating a wide array of nutritious foods and eat for brain health whenever possible.

Maintain physical fitness
A healthy body supports a healthy mind. There have been many studies done that show the positive impact of exercise on mental health, including this one. If your mind is feeling dull or on the other side of the spectrum, chaotic, getting out and moving can work wonders, often in a short amount of time.

Improve Sleep Hygiene
Consider your sleep habits. What is your caffeine and water intake like throughout the day? Do you have a routine in place like reading or meditating to help you wind down before bed? These can all impact the quality of our sleep.

Mental Fitness Training Programs
Mental fitness programming is one of the many ways companies can demonstrate care for their employees’ mental well-being. In fact, formal brain training/mental fitness programs have become quite a trend in the last few years and with the widespread increase in demand for mental well-being programming in the corporate wellness landscape, these programs definitely have their place.

Urban Balance offers one such program called Positive Intelligence. In this 8-week course, employees learn to identify, recognize and intercept thoughts, habits, and patterns that no longer serve them. The practices offered within the program simultaneously activate and strengthen the region of the brain that supports highly effective stress-free performance and optimal response.

To enroll yourself or a group of employees in the next session of this widely-acclaimed professional development course starting in January, please contact us for full details.

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

3-Ways-to-Get-Creative-with-your-Employee-Wellness-Programming

4 Ways to Get Creative with your Employee Wellness Programming

At this point in the pandemic, when it comes to your virtual wellness offerings, maybe it feels like you’ve tried it all (and then some!) and aren’t quite sure how to pique your team’s interest. Need a little inspiration? If you’re looking for ways to keep your programming fresh and share gratitude with your employees as we head into 2022, here’s a list of fun event ideas to consider.

Virtual Wellness Retreats

Design a virtual wellness retreat experience tailored to your employees’ needs. This fully customizable option invites employees to enjoy all the relaxation, bliss, and centering of a wellness retreat within the safety of their own home or office. Companies that work with us can choose from any of the live or pre-recorded or classes in our catalog including movement, meditation, nutrition, wellness webinars, and more.

During these events, employees are encouraged to make their space a sanctuary and be as present as possible by disconnecting from work for the span of a few hours. Having some scheduled time away from their daily responsibilities could be just what your employees need to help feel nourished and re-charged for the new year.

Host a Virtual Wellness Week

If you’re looking to offer more of a multi-day experience with a diverse array of offerings spread out across several days, consider hosting a virtual wellness week.

With this type of event, we can help you customize a creative, informative, fun and interactive weeks’ worth of webinars. One possible way to structure the event is to focus on a different dimension of well-being each day for 5 days. Consider having 2-3 webinars live-streamed per day, and opt-in for recordings to send to employees who could not attend live. We will collaborate with you and with our skilled and experienced team of corporate wellness professionals to present a rich blend of webinars that will speak to mental, financial, physical, environmental and nutritional/social well-being.

This format has a high likelihood of sparking good conversation in the office (or virtual workspace), because it allows employees to steep in each topic for a little longer than usual. This extra time spent with the material can help guide employees toward meaningful change in their lives.

Virtual Health Fairs

Is your company planning a virtual health or benefits fair? These events are a great way to help employees take initiative over their well-being by showing up to interact with a variety of wellness experts as they learn about the benefits and services that are available to them.
Consider tying in benefits providers you haven’t worked with before to help keep things fresh. Offer a meditation session or movement class, or even a nutrition demo as part of the event. Providing opportunities for experiential learning through classes and webinars can help keep the event fun and informative while building community.

Substitute Your In-Person Holiday Gathering with Virtual Wellness Experiences

If your organization is unable to hold an in-person holiday gathering again this year, consider other ways you could bring employees together to appreciate their efforts and have a little fun. One of our favorite strategies is to offer a holiday-themed interactive cooking class where employees can cook with the instructor. You could also consider a virtual yoga class or a high-energy movement class like Zumba, HIIT, etc.

Whichever path you choose here are some general guidelines to help you design an experience that runs smoothly and ends up being meaningful for employees:

  • Meet employees where they are – make it relevant. Cater to your team’s wants and needs. Survey them. Give them two or 3 options to choose from. Find out what employees want and deliver! For instance, if you have a team that loves food, offer an interactive cooking class. If you’ve heard a lot of people say they’re burnt out or need a break, consider some gentle or restorative yoga, or group meditation session.
  • Make it interactive. have presenters ask engaging questions, offer fun prizes or other incentives for those who attend, and be sure to follow up with participants to see what their experience was like when all is said and done.
  • Give employees paid time to participate. This is one of the best ways to boost engagement and show employees that you are prioritizing their well-being.
  • Get the word out early and often. What is your department is doing to inform and remind employees of what is available to them? Employees may need to hear about wellness offerings several times before they really notice them and decide to participate.
  • Offer multiple ways to participate. Livestream classes are great for bringing people together in real-time and building community. Consider offering a recording for those who could not make it to the live session.
  • Build excitement around the offerings. To ensure employees show up to reap the benefits, really make it an event that employees won’t want to miss – make it “cool” to participate! Offer a drawing or other incentive or find other ways to create a little friendly competition.

In these times, there is no doubt that companies will need to be creative when it comes to supporting employee well-being. Think outside the box and let us know how we can support your remote or hybrid employees. We’d love to brainstorm with you to create an event that makes a difference in their lives!

 

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

 

How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety,

Returning to Work: How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety

Mental health, and employee well-being in general, have been prominent topics of conversation throughout the pandemic.

At first, quarantine had an overwhelming impact on everyone’s mental well-being. A sense of isolation paired with never really being able to “shut off” work was an issue at the forefront for so many. Fast forward 18 months to now, when many employers have announced their return-to-work plans and the transition is well underway. It turns out going back to the office has been just as challenging, if not more so, than the sudden switch to remote work.

In June 2021, global management consulting firm McKinsey conducted a survey of 1,602 employed people, in which 1 in 3 employees reported that returning to the office negatively impacted their mental health.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety at work is marked by the presence of feelings of interpersonal trust and an overall culture of respect and inclusivity that invites members to show up as their whole selves, take risks, and innovate. Ensuring employees feel psychologically safe in the workplace is part of supporting their mental well-being through this new round of changes.

What are the current employee concerns; how can employers help?

Perhaps the most obvious include physical concerns related to contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to loved ones, including immuno-compromised family members and children who may not yet be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Another top-ranking concern is flexibility, which 62% of survey respondents reported could decrease the stress of transitioning back on-site. Many employees are seeking hybrid work arrangements and more time off. In our increasingly busy world, one where employees are often leaving for greener pastures, employers are needing to find ways to accommodate people in this regard.

What role can your workplace wellness program play in supporting psychological safety at work?

Holistic corporate wellness programs can go beyond providing employees with stand-alone movement, meditation, or cooking classes. When executed well, engagement with these offerings helps to create a culture of well-being at work – a culture where qualities like openness, inclusivity, and caring about co-worker’s joys and challenges, becomes normalized — all of which can help to reduce mental health stigma and help employees find a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Livestream and on-site classes — activities done together in real time — serve to bring employees together to cultivate a shared experience, and even a sense of community and purpose, around something other than work. Through interacting with co-workers during a wellness webinar on reducing stress through meditation, for example, employees may come to realize that they have the same anxieties and stressors as some of their peers and feel less alone as a result.

Providing options can help to reduce stress and give employees flexibility in how they engage with your wellness offerings. Each employee population is a little different. Try mixing up your offerings and how they are delivered. If your employee report feeling “Zoomed out” by the end of the day, it may be difficult to get everyone on board to take part in a single virtual class. Instead, try offering a mix of virtual and on-site services, or perhaps some on-demand classes they can take part in when it feels right for them.

For example, try offering 2-3 weekly yoga classes paired with an on-site massage session once per month. If on-site programming does not yet feel accessible in your area yet due to state or local restrictions, it’s something to consider for the future.

Finally, with ‘The Great Resignation’ underway, your employee wellness program has to do double duty — that is, support existing employees while also signaling to prospective team members the type of workplace culture you are looking to prioritize. If you’re in a leadership role, model positive engagement with existing wellness offerings. Stay connected with current employees’ needs, both by surveying and talking with them regularly, while staying abreast of the trends. A quality well-being program is a singular, yet potentially very impactful piece of the puzzle of supporting your team’s mental health.

In Closing

Psychological safety is a huge part of your employee’s overall well-being and prioritizing it in your company’s return-to-work strategy will be of the utmost importance. If your company is seeking a partner to help tailor and execute a corporate wellness program for these times — look no further! We have a deep commitment to understanding the nuances of employee wellness and will be here with you every step of the way.

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

The Great Resignation and Your Employee Wellness Strategy

The Great Resignation and Your Employee Wellness Strategy

by Kasey Stewart

Many employees are on the move in search of greener pastures. There is a record 9.2 million job openings in the US and not enough employees to fill them. The power dynamic has shifted; employees are using this time to ask for the working conditions and benefits that support the lifestyle they aspire to – and employers would be wise to pay attention.

With the ‘Great Resignation’ underway, there is no better time to assess and re-vamp your corporate wellness program to best meet current employees’ needs, while piquing the interest of prospective team members.

The Great Resignation is a term coined by Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, to describe the mass exodus of employees leaving their jobs post-pandemic in search of more fulfilling options.

The pandemic has led people to contemplate the meaning of life and assess what they truly want out of it, bringing into question the value in being chained to an office cubicle from 9-5 (or in some cases, much longer) when more flexible opportunities exist aligned with their larger goals exist.

 

Employees are expecting more than just money.

By now, many companies know the value of supporting employees in all dimensions of wellbeing.

According to WorldatWork’s “Workplace Well-Being Trends” survey, 61% of HR leaders said demand for well-being programs has increased in their organization in recent months, as has employee utilization (up 63%).

The survey highlights that a culture of care focused on the whole person is the factor that ultimately leads to a more engaged, resilient, and therefore successful workforce.

Here at Urban Balance, we believe that building a culture of care extends beyond supporting individuals, and into creating an environment where the collective is valued and employees are encouraged to build community with one another as they move through their days.

 

Use your employee wellness strategy to build community and create meaningful connection.

In a recent report from Business Group on Health, 64% of large companies surveyed said their employee wellness plan included programming that emphasized social connectedness and 21% said they were considering adding more of this in the future.

In a world where many employees will continue to work from home at least part-time, and where app-based wellness programs focused more on individual progress have become a common corporate wellness solution, factoring in opportunities for employees to connect with one another via livestream classes and webinars creates a refreshing opportunity for them to take a break from work and come together.

On-demand, app-based programming is a fantastic solution for companies looking for convenience and the ability to offer a piece of content for a certain period of time. The only downside is the lack of personal connection between presenter or teacher and employees, as well as a missed opportunity for employees to build connections with one another.

This is a gap that we aim to fill with our livestream programming. Employees meet at a certain time each week for a group yoga experience, or maybe a few times per month for special webinars to help keep them on track with their nutrition, finances, or mental well-being.

Livestream wellness offerings are a great way to connect existing employees and welcome new ones to the team. There is a sense of connection and camaraderie that forms within these groups. It’s something we’ve seen first-hand throughout the pandemic and that we look forward to continuing as we all settle into the next phase of pandemic life together.


In Conclusion

The coming months will present an opportunity for companies to do right by their employees so they can live better and work better. This period of turnover may feel daunting for those working in HR/talent acquisition. Many uncertainties still exist, and finding the right culture balance through the turmoil and turnover will be challenging.

However, once everything shakes out, the most positive outcome we can imagine is that employees will find themselves in a job/workplace where they feel engaged, supported, and satisfied – the ultimate win-win for all.

Employees are uprooting their lives in search of greater meaning, inspiration, and connection. How will your company address this need?

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

Navigating-Employee-Wellbeing-in-the-Hybrid-Workplace

Navigating Employee Wellbeing in the Hybrid Workplace

by Kasey Stewart

In the latest phase of pandemic recovery, companies across the country are embracing a formal shift toward a hybrid work environment. Many are in the process of welcoming employees back into corporate offices this summer, while others are in the planning stages for a larger-scale return in the fall.

This shift in work environments, along with a changing labor market, is prompting companies to invest in their physical workspaces and their team – everything from office renovations to beefed up benefits packages – in an attempt to retain employees and enhance their experience.

A recent report from Microsoft paints a detailed picture of the current state of affairs. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index Annual Report, a notable 66% of leaders said their company is considering re-designing its office space for hybrid work. On the employee side, 73% of workers surveyed want flexible remote work options to continue, while 67% are ready for more in-person time with their teammates.

These statistics paint a clear picture – permanent changes are coming to the way we work, and both companies and employees are on board. The report even goes so far as to frame hybrid work as “the next great disruption”.

Is your workplace ready – and is your company as prepared as it can be to prioritize employee wellbeing through the transition? Read more

Why your company should curate classes for employees instead of offering flex dollars

Why your company should curate classes for employees instead of offering flex dollars

By Phoebe Schiff

 

If your company offers a Wellness Spending Account or any type of flexible wellness dollars for employees, it may be time to consider adding live classes that bring employees together in community, promote accountability, and offer a source of stability.

 

Employee turnover, new talent acquisition, relocation to physical offices, changing policies, and a general feeling of disarray are just a few of the experiences companies are undergoing.

 

With all of this in the background, Wellness Spending Accounts and flexible wellness dollars are important resources for employees to feel like they have support.

 

However, offering people flexible spending for wellness services in stressful moments like this doesn’t compare to the shared experience of curated, community-oriented wellness services like live yoga classes, meditation, nutrition classes, and wellness webinars Read more

Pandemic Reflections: Co-Creating The World We Want to Live In

Pandemic Reflections: Co-Creating The World We Want to Live In

The pandemic has revealed how deeply interconnected we are with everyone and everything on the planet. We have seen first-hand how a virus with a single point of origin could come to affect us collectively in one way or another.

Whether that impact has looked like losing your sense of day-to-day normalcy, or at worst, contracting the virus or losing loved ones, we have all felt the toll and witnessed the great suffering and iniquity it has revealed. But now that the regulations are starting to lift and our movements are becoming less restricted, where do we go from here? Read more

Stress: The Good, The Bad, and How to Navigate it at Work

Stress is a given in our modern lives. We can’t escape it fully – nor would that necessarily be a good thing. Though it gets a pretty bad rap, some stress can actually be beneficial in helping us to move forward and grow in life.

Regardless of how it’s classified, stress is our body’s way of responding to a demand or threat. In the presence of the stressor, the body kicks into what’s known as “fight or flight” mode, or the “stress response”.

The Types of Stress

We’ll start with Distress — the “bad stress”. Perhaps the most widely-recognized type of stress, it’s the kind that, especially when chronic, can lead to major health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also exacerbate mental health conditions including anxiety and depression. Distress may be triggered by a variety of factors including the death of a loved one, relationship issues/divorce, isolation, financial issues, sleep problems, or simply working too much.

Then, we have Eustress – the “good stress”. It’s the type that inspires, motivates, and ultimately, it’s what helps us feel alive. Read more

On Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

On Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: How Companies Can Demonstrate Care

It is no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health to some degree throughout the past year.

According to a survey by the CDC, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a marked increase in substance abuse.

As a corporate wellness company focused on holistic programming, we recognize that mental health and wellbeing are inextricably linked from the overall picture of employee wellness. So, what is the relationship between the two, and what can support look like in the workplace? Read on. Read more