2014 Trends & Thoughts for Approaching Health in the Workplace

Credit: Canva.com

Credit: Canva.com

We recently attended SVLG’s Annual Workplace Wellness Summit in Mountain View, joining a mix of about 300 other Silicon Valley folks to discuss Health at Work. Attendees were from all different industries and professions: HR and benefits managers, health and wellness program directors, digital health vendors, and health practitioners, from nutritionists and registered dietitians, to acupuncturists and insurers.

The half day’s schedule was packed with relevant sessions geared toward the employer looking to either begin or elevate their current workplace wellness program.

Panelists and speakers represented companies – from small business to Fortune 500 – that shared their success and learning lessons on the road to making health and wellness an organizational objective at the bottom and top line. Among the mix were some of the most innovative (and imaginative) in implementing workplace wellness, such as Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, and Google.

The agenda featured the trends that were the most top-of-mind in the first half, to kick everyone off – other pressing #HealthAtWork topics were presented throughout the rest of the general sessions. What was top of mind? We threw in a few of the takeaways and observations that came from the sessions and panelists, below.

Health in the Workplace: Trends and Thoughts

Culture of Health

  • It’s not about creating a culture of health, so much as it is about sustaining a culture of health
  • In order to build a culture of health, you must have leadership from the top down supporting that culture
  • “If you don’t believe in primary prevention, you won’t go far.” – Dr. Fik Isaac, Chief Medical Officer, Wellness  & Prevention, Johnson & Johnson
  • Intrinsic motivation is regarded as working better than cash
  • Stakeholders choosing/evaluating wellness programs need to look beyond the healthcare costs – if you only focus on outcomes, you won’t be as successful.
  • Health and wellness investments must be folded into corporate sustainability
  • Have the right data – what are you getting back? Employee surveys are valuable
  • Good health is not only of great value to individuals and populations, but also to industry and society

Employee Engagement

  • “A program is only as good as its adoption rate,” – Marianne Jackson, Founder & President 3g Human Capital Consulting; Blue Shield California
  • A holistic approach should focus on eating well, moving more, being tobacco free, and emotional wellbeing
  • Behavior change is where program adoption lies, not in mandates.
  • Employees want to know that their privacy is protected when it comes to all of the different platforms, HRAs, and programs being thrown at them
  • Achieving new health outcomes is dependent on participation over time


  • The top 5 drivers of illness-related business costs: Obesity, Physical inactivity, depression, tobacco use, high blood glucose
  • If just starting out, compile a short list of population health, productivity, and financial metrics
  • “Business costs attributable to illness is not just medical spend”– Brian Gifford, Director, IBI
  • An attitude of “Why invest if it doesn’t yield?” is behind in the times – HR managers and benefits folks + C-Suite must look at it through a different lens when it comes to ROI – productivity, employee satisfaction, employee retention

Healthier food and drink options at work

  • It is much harder to get an employee to go from Nothing to Something, than it is to go from Something to More
  • You have to make healthy choices available. Make it easy. Make it fun. Low barrier to entry
  • Many companies have eliminated sugary beverages from on-site
  • Some companies are instituting policies about bringing food to share in common areas – for some, it’s no junk food
  • “When people are given a choice between healthy and unhealthy, they will choose healthy 50% of the time – so give them that choice,” – Stephanie Chenevert, Global Food Program Marketing Manager, Google
  • There is a need to socialize the population on the act of standing at work,” – Jay Rosenthal, Public Inc.

Mental health

  • The impact of stress and depression in the workplace is not as focused on as diet and exercise are – this needs to change
  • Did you know that depression & anxiety is 3x the amount of diabetes when it comes to the % of under treated diseases in the workplace?
  • 43 million Americans are struggling with caregiving for an aging parent
  • There is a rising need to provide support for workers with caregiving issues. “66% experienced distraction related to caregiving while at work” – Andy Cohen, Co-Founder & CEO of Caring.com

Overall, it was an insightful event to attend, especially as the health tech market keeps advancing, wearables forge forward, and sensors race to create advancements in areas like glucose monitoring. It’s inspiring to see so many people gathered together, focused on and passionate about getting the population healthy

As for us, when it comes to health and employers, we’ve touched on a few of these issues:

We’re always open to more conversations around health in the workplace. If you want to know more about how WellnessFX is helping companies get their employees healthy, learn more here (or pass it along to the person in your org.)

Learn More about WellnessFX for your work

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.