These Hot Wellness Trends Are Popping Up at Workplaces Around the Country
Not too long ago, "wellness" was only used in fringe circles to describe activities in which one actively pursues a better state of being, whether it's physically, mentally, or both. Very rapidly, this grew from a very small group of people to a giant worldwide industry. Of course, this industry was bound the intersect with the workplace. With newer generations demanding that basic necessities be met by employers, employers took heed and began experimenting with contracting wellness companies.
These companies don't just show PowerPoint slides on how to reduce stress. Instead of traditional meetings many workers would characterize as "boring", these companies are taking an entirely different approach: actually going through wellness exercises with their employees. Here's what activities they're doing and how they're working out.
Meditation and Yoga
These are the two most common forms of classes given in workplaces on wellness. Often, certified instructors first focus on the art of meditation. They explain how it works, and they help people who have trouble "getting in the zone" with it. This is complementary to Yoga, which uses light physical activity to help workers relax.
The ultimate hope with both of these is to transfer knowledge to workers that they can later use on their own time to reduce stress. These classes sometimes even come with free memberships to phone apps that help users to do both of these activities.
This trend can directly help the company and the employee at the same time. Again, typically someone other than management at the company is brought in to train people on this topic. This is because people are more apt to pay attention to a new speaker. However, the process is quite simple.
Everyone gets a backboard and then brainstorms what they want to have in their lives. Of course, part of the endgame is that companies want employees to set career goals at their organizations. However, employees may also add mantras they like, a savings fund goal, a vacation destination they wish to see, and an infinite amount of other things. Importantly, this is all physically done, sometimes with the assistance of pre-printed materials.
This serves as a break from staring at a computer screen and a morale booster for all involved.
Though an interesting concept, this wellness trend doesn't have too much science behind it. The intent is to get coworkers all relaxed in a communal environment while listening to certain soothing sounds that are played at different frequencies. It can take place anywhere, although it's usually not done in the actual work area. Many companies are unwilling to invest in this trend since it's largely unproven. However, there are still plenty of small and large companies that provide this wellness service to their employees.
Do These Work?
Of course it's a good sign that companies are looking at how to improve the wellness of their own employees. However, do all of these wellness trends do anything for the unprecedented stress today's workers are facing? Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford professor, set out to do research on this topic.
He concluded that they are essentially a stopgap measure to stop an all-out revolt by employees for poor working conditions. Many offices expect workers to be available around the clock, which adds a significant amount of stress. They also tend to skimp on hiring more employees unless absolutely necessary, which adds to everyone's workload. These huge workloads can lead to major burnout for employees of all ages. Another major issue he identified was the fact that many employees' schedules are unpredictable. Historically, employees have had a set shift of hours to work, knowing they would be done at a certain time. However, many modern jobs will randomly demand that employees stay for longer periods of time on certain days. This can be devastating for mental health.
In short, Pfeffer's investigation showed that, in no uncertain terms, these "wellness" trends are nothing short of covering up what is causing employees to deteriorate so rapidly. He stated that companies know exactly why their employees are more miserable, but since it's earning them money, they have no incentive to lessen workloads, give guaranteed work schedules, and kill toxic office cultures.
While Pfeffer's investigation yielded saddening results, there is hope. He noted that these wellness trends tend to have a positive impact on employees. He simply emphasized that more needs to be done than just these trends.
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