Insight from Conference Keynote – Wellness Opportunities in a Constantly Connected Environment
We were thrilled to have David Donnan, Partner Emeritus at A.T. Kearney and a Board Member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, keynote our 6th Annual Emerging Trends in Wellness Conference. David’s session “Constantly Connected – Smartphones, Wearables and Our New Relationship with Food” highlighted trends in wellness and wearable devices and offered a view into what the future will bring.
With global healthcare costs on the rise and our national economy struggling to promote well-being, we are seeing a shift toward consumer-centric health care. In fact, many employers have shifted healthcare costs to employees (through higher deductibles and premium costs) and are encouraging employees to be educated consumers and fiscally conscious about the medical choices they make. Employers, however, are not expecting employees to do this all on their own. Many companies have implemented wellness programs to encourage employees to make healthy lifestyle changes and to provide personalized support by offering onsite health coaching and programs about nutrition, fitness, mental and emotional health, and financial wellness.
Influencers and Fad Diets Employees are constantly connected – at work, at home and on the go. David discussed how being connected has led to the development of influencer relationships that are taking over the consumer world and shaping the way employees approach their choices around health and nutrition. He noted that the new food consumer is concerned about well-being and actively seeks information, however, many people are influenced by fad diets and YouTube videos. Rather than letting employees be influenced by the latest trend or fad found on the World Wide Web, employers should take advantage of this opportunity to educate employees through well-developed nutrition programs taught by registered dietitians at their workplaces. The amount of information available about proper nutrition can be overwhelming and confusing to most. Bringing in trained professionals can help employees sort through the information in a meaningful and more effective manner.
Wearable Devices and the Future More than fifty-six percent of Americans use a wearable device to track their activity and health daily. By 2022, this number is expected to increase to 67 percent. These devices provide instant feedback and often positively influence employees’ choices to increase their steps/activity. Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many employers use wearables as a tool in their wellness programs. But where is this trend headed? David discussed some of the new frontiers for wearables, including using artificial intelligence to collect and analyze data and provide feedback and recommendations to employees. In the future, devices will have the ability to measure blood sugar and other metrics through an imbedded sensory.
There’s no doubt that employees’ constantly connected environment can shape their health and well-being choices, but employers can leverage this opportunity to become an influencer by offering complimentary and robust programs in nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep hygiene and other wellness topics. Using both online and onsite programming and offering wearable devices is a great way to use technology to keep your employees connected and on the path to good health while developing and fostering a human connection around wellness. As we often recite at Wellness Workdays, behavior change is personal and wellness starts with each individual employee.
If you could not attend the conference this year, stay tuned to our newsletter and blog. We’ll be bringing you articles on topics from the conference so you can stay on top of what’s best and what’s next in wellness. Be sure to save the date for our 7th Annual Conference on April 1-2, 2020 for the latest research, trends , developments and best practices in corporate wellness. Call or email us anytime if you want to learn more!