The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted employer perspective of employee wellness and workplace culture, along with most people, especially employees making considerable lifestyle changes. Right from creative experiments of cooking healthy homemade foods, to having the sweatpants rule the wardrobe, employees are preferring self-comfort and making conscious efforts to improve their holistic health wellness and to have a better work-life balance.
Despite the social isolation and falling economy affecting employee mental wellness and financial health, employees are being more mindful about their holistic health and wellness.
A 2021 SurveyMonkey study conducted on 1,606 US adults proved that people are changing their ideas of health and wellness, and are making real efforts to achieve their wellness goals. Here are a few positive outcomes of the survey that shows the progress made by employees during the pandemic for their holistic health and wellness.
Positive Progress For Holistic Wellness
The pandemic brought a whole year of uncertainty, anxiety, and troubles through the lockdowns, social isolation, remote working, and economic fall. Many studies report a decline in employee mental health due to the pandemic. However, when the SurveyMonkey study respondents were asked about their health habits, the outcomes were more surprising than anticipated.
Almost 82% of the respondents said their lifestyle has somewhat become healthier. In fact, almost 33% said they are following a very healthy lifestyle lately. Of these, 46% who were confident of their healthy lifestyle belonged to the age group of under 24 years, and 43% were 75 years of age and above.
While 43% said the pandemic was a great reason for them to focus on their health and wellness and improve their habits, 12% said the pandemic was an excuse to overlook their wellbeing.
One-third of the respondents said they were exercising more and 34% were making healthier eating choices compared to the time during the peak pandemic.
Strong Intentions, Low Motivations
The year has raised the bar for employee health and wellness, and people are setting high goals to practice healthy lifestyle habits. Almost 57% of the respondents said they were looking to alter their diet and eating habits to lose weight in the next year. Despite the health plans, they were struggling to carry out their plans due to several reasons –
- 33% – Could not stick to the diet plans
- 25% – No time to prepare healthy food
- 22% – Cannot afford healthy food options
So, the intentions were there, but it lacked motivation.
Employers can motivate employees to adopt healthy habits through their corporate wellness programs. Right from offering wellness challenges with fun activities to rewarding incentives upon reaching milestones could be effective employee engagement strategies and also encourage them to keep up with healthy habits.
Fitness Goals Back On Track
The social distancing and lockdowns have restricted physical activity at the gyms, walks, hikes, and runs. Thanks to the video calls, hiding the effect of lack of physical activity was successful which otherwise would have been apparent in in-person meetings. Despite the easy excuse, many people got their fitness goals back on track by reinventing home fitness sessions.
- 32% – Used some kind of home fitness equipment
- 28% – Used workout or fitness apps
- 24% – Used fitness trackers or wearables
While many were planning on taking the needed vitamins and supplements, there has also been a rise in the number of fitness equipment and wearable purchases. Also, once the restrictions seemed to ease and normalcy resumed, the gym memberships also increased.
While 30% of men agreed they were exercising more during the pandemic lockdowns, only 25% of women said they exercised well at home. However, in 2021, 38% of women were planning on making healthier eating choices and 30% were going to reach their fitness goals, only 27% of men plan to eat healthily and 21% could hit their fitness goal.
Like the diet plans, many had the right intentions and resources to get fit, but lacked motivation. This is when employers need to leverage their corporate wellness programs to boost employee health and wellness. Conducting employee surveys can help in identifying workforce interests and focusing on aspects where they wish to spend their energies and time. Offering well-designed corporate wellness programs with the right wellness challenges, rewards and incentives, and other key employee benefits could go a long way in helping them set their right health and wellness goals, and also motivate to achieve them.