A Guest Post by Erol Maksud
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a dramatic shift in the employee wellness industry. Many employees dealt with isolation, loss, mental health decline, and changes in routine. Hence, most companies had to find a way to turn the tide around and make it easier for employees to deal with the effects of the pandemic.
Thus, the wellness companies have had a drastic change in their demand on the market. After two years of dealing with Covid-19 outcomes, the numbers show us which wellness trends are in demand and which aren’t.
Wellness Industries on Demand and in Decline for 2021
In 2021 the health and wellness industry became a central pillar in mainstream discussions. HR specialists to CEOs are promoting the use of wellness platforms as a productivity boost. Moreover, the public’s interest in wellbeing appears to be reaching a tipping point.
Demand for wellness solutions is driven by workplace stress, mental health awareness, and lifestyle-related diseases.
People are spending more money on their health and experiences. In fact, since millennials have become the largest generation in the US labor force; their preferences for experiences also play a role in this increased interest.
Based on these macro and micro trends, the health and wellness sector appears to be on track for continued growth in 2021 and beyond.
1. Behavioral Health
The pandemic had a staggering impact on the behavioral health services sector. The huge demand across the U.S. is because anxiety and eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse are also rising across the country.
In fact, according to Shortlister’s research, 82% of the vendors on the platform saw an increased demand for behavioral health services in 2020. And an additional increase of 67% in the following year. Moreover, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.6%, from $77.62 billion in 2021 to $99.40 billion in 2028.
2. Senior Care
For many, Covid-19 turned houses into offices and daycares. Parents were struggling with balancing work and online learning. At the same time, the elderly became the age group with the most significant health risk if exposed to the virus. Therefore, their families were the first in line to take care of them.
To have their employees’ undivided attention to work, companies showed increased interest in the care packages and programs offered on the market.
According to Harvard Business Review, 63% of the companies plan to extend a hand and increase their existing child care benefits, and 41% plan to increase senior care benefits.
Given that health problems are rising and visiting hospitals for checkups is frowned upon during a pandemic, none saw a more significant shift in market interest than telehealth.
As other areas of life moved, virtual — work, school, social — medicine followed suit, and employers adapted swiftly.
According to Shortlister’s wellness trends report for 2021, there was a 52% increase in demand for telehealth and a 39% increase for this wellness trend.
4. Financial Wellness
Employers have prioritized financial wellness for some time now. And the pandemic brought a new focus on financial health for many adults.
Financial stress, according to SHRM, causes a 34% increase in absenteeism and tardiness. Moreover, employees concerned about their finances miss nearly twice as many days per year as their colleagues, who have no reason to be worried about money.
Therefore, more and more companies are trying to adapt and provide the necessary means for their employees’ better financial wellbeing.
5. Tobacco Cessation
In the wellness industry, one wellness trend is on the decrease, and that’s tobacco cessation. During 2020 and 2021, interest in tobacco cessation programs remained largely unchanged, with a slight decline.
There were efforts to promote this wellness trend in 2021; however, the numbers remain unchanged.
The World Health Organization launched a year-long global campaign titled “Commit to Quit” in honor of World No Tobacco Day 2021. And the WHO Quit Challenge on WhatsApp and the publication “More than 100 Reasons to Quit Tobacco” were released to commemorate this campaign’s launch. Though, not much has changed since.
When done correctly, personal wellness care and disease prevention result in wellbeing in the broadest sense of the word. Physically, mentally, and even financially, people are healthier and, by extension, happier. Therefore, wellness care and prevention should be the starting point for managing employee wellbeing.
When it comes to wellness industry trends, these are the ones to look out for this year. And, while last year’s and this year’s events have certainly shaped these trends, it looks like they’re here to stay. They clearly demonstrate the interdependence of mental, physical, financial, and family wellness and thus the importance of a holistic approach to employee wellbeing.