Chris Gibson, Vice President, Marketing & Product Management, Humanscale

In the United States in 2014, corporate employers spent an average of $594 per employee on wellness-based incentives. Spending was expected to increase to $693 per employee in 2015. It’s no surprise that corporate wellness has grown into an $8 billion industry, but organizations still have work ahead in order to build long-lasting, successful programs.

A 2014 Gallop study showed that of companies with 1,000 employees or more, only 40% participate in company wellness activities. Another report said 50% of employees take part in health-risk appraisals, but only 10% to 20% engage in lifestyle change and disease management activities.

Why aren’t more workers jumping at the chance to get healthy when their companies are paying for it? One issue may be one-size-fits-all health and wellness approaches, like nutritional programs that may not address everyone’s personal needs, and fitness events that require extra time at the office.

Workforces are diverse and decision makers need to present health and wellness options that both appeal to a broader audience and allow employees to decide when and if they’d like to engage. Gensler found that choice is a huge factor in terms of employee satisfaction.

Active design, such as through the inclusion of sit/stand desks, can be a less intimidating and an easy-to-implement wellness initiative that gives users autonomy over when and how they get active. Recent research shows that standing desks can improve health and potentially contribute to psychological benefits. In addition to providing tools like this—so employees have the option to move more at work—organizations also need to bridge “the wellness gap.”

Mobile devices and wellness tracking have become popular among millions of consumers, and millennials, who will make up nearly 50% of the workforce in 2020, are the most voracious users of technology to date. Digital applications, like Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, and Nexercise, have 8.7 million, 3.3 million, and 3 million users respectively. The biggest feature on the apps, besides tracking fitness, is the social aspect.

A Nielsen survey found that 49% of consumers said their family and friends were the most helpful for staying motivated. For many, being able to share daily updates to social media or via text is almost as important as the tracking itself. But what happens when these wearble users have a desk job? This is the “wellness gap,” the period of time—on average, eight hours per day—that wearable fitness users are not active and not tracking wellness data.

Americans spend nearly 55% of their waking hours at work. Why aren’t we doing more to address health and wellness during that time? Technology—that gives people in sedentary work environments the opportunity to be more active, track that activity, and then merge the data with their personal health and wellness data—is here, now. This technology is catapulting the transformation of the traditional office into the intelligent workplace. Organizations that act now will be able to get the most engagement and return on their corporate health and wellness initiatives, as well as data insights that will change the way office spaces are designed, forever.

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