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5 Trends for the Corporate Wellness Landscape

Wellness is no longer seen as a nice to have in many organizations; it is seen as a responsibility. Yet the workplace continues to be a determinant of health and wellbeing for the American employee. At WELCOA this is what drives our vision. What was once executed through activity-centered programs is now becoming a cultural movement that has the power to impact the social fabric of every organization. We are learning that the wellness of an individual or organization can’t be measured by traditional health markers alone, and our broadened focus has started to shift the wellness market. From my perspective, I see 5 fundamental;—and, in our minds at WELCOA, positive—trends that are evolving our industry.


It feels like not a day goes by without a press release highlighting a new merger or acquisition. The giants in the for-profit wellness space are getting bigger, and their focus appears to be getting broader. The expectation of the most innovative wellness platforms is that they support whole-person health and are capable of providing personalized guidance and support for all things human. For WELCOA Members, as you identify the need to broaden your approach through taking the Well Workplace Checklist, you could have access to more vendor partners who can support you in moving beyond a medicalized model and scaling some of the “softer” areas of programming such as mindfulness or community wellness.


The modern, western employee lives in a continuous state of information overload. Whether accurate or not, information is always at our fingertips, which can lead us to being more educated or, in some cases, just more confused. We seem to be overwhelmed with information, misinformation, diets, pills, fads, celebrity endorsements — the list goes on. A friend once told me the world will never go as slow as it is today. Read that again. How can it possibly go faster? I guess I’ll have to wait for tomorrow to see. What we do know is that it is more important now than ever to help those we serve cut through the noise and make sound decisions rooted in science and research, and that is not an easy task.

WELCOA continues to partner with researchers and experts across multiple disciplines to validate the Well Workplace Process and tell a compelling story about the true and total value of a well employee.


It’s no surprise that employee wellness is a complicated and sometimes frustrating field. We are, after all, working with humans, and humans are beautifully messy and complex. It seems like we have designed organizations that are not a good fit for meeting human needs. Work-life balance, family leave, and equity are top-of-mind for many. Yet most organizations seem to fall short at providing their employees with the most basic of resources while their wellness strategies still assert a narrow “eat more broccoli” agenda. Mental health is now one of the field’s most pressing issues – and for good reason. What’s the solution? The research on social connection is clear. We are social creatures, and the more social support we have, the better off we are. In an increasingly digital world, it may seem like it should be easier to connect with each other, but I am seeing the opposite. Using digital platforms to fulfill our need for connection often brings on unintended consequences like online bullying, feelings of inadequacy from cruising through profiles of seemingly perfect lives, or even social isolation. We need each other. As wellness professionals, we have a role to play in squelching this epidemic by providing opportunities for social connections at work to improve employee health. We are committed with providing you with more fresh ideas for how to do this, here’s an inspiring WELCOA Summit keynote from Employee Engagement author and expert Jason Lauritsen to get your wheels turning.


Words matter. Ever tried to explain the difference of wellness and wellbeing to someone? Better yet – is there a difference? Does one imply a whole-person approach and one imply a programmatic one? Or did we just pick a new word to mean something that many of us meant all along? That in itself is another blog post. My point here is that words matter. Some dear friends and colleagues of mine just did a piece on storytelling. I think it’s a powerful reminder that our words and our stories have a lot of power. In my own experience I have seen stories compel people to action, far more than a report with data. Don’t get me wrong, data matters too, but more often than not I’ve seen stories have much more power to ignite behavior change than charts and graphs ever could. Your words matter.

For a training course on persuasive communication for wellness, check out Communicating Your Wellness Strategy with Purpose and Power on the WELCOA Institute.


I had to include this one. We all want to know it or we have at least been asked countless times, “What’s the return on our investment?” While I won’t have the chance to fully get into this in a short blog post, I want to mention this. It should be no question in anyone’s mind that helping our employees live a healthy, happy life is the right thing to do. It should be fairly obvious that thriving employees are good for the bottom line. So, I challenge you — pick your most important business metric or value story of choice and let’s connect the dots:

  • Productivity
  • Turnover
  • Retention
  • Acquisition
  • Safety
  • Profitability

The list goes on… These are likely important factors to many organizations — including your own. So let’s work together as a field to connect the dots for business leaders so that wellness is not a nice to have – it is a responsibility.

We at WELCOA will continue to give you the tools and training you need to communicate the value of your wellness initiative.

We have come a long way, but still have a lot of ground to cover. We want to be your partner on this journey. The reality is we spend most of our waking hours working and/or in an office. It is every employer’s responsibility to protect and support their most precious asset – their people. I applaud each of you for your passion for the work you are doing every day. In my opinion, the gift of wellness is the most precious gift of all.

Ryan Picarella

About the Author:

Ryan Picarella, MS  //  CEO, WELCOA

As WELCOA’s President, Ryan brings immense knowledge and insight from his career that spans over a decade in the health and wellness industry. He is a national speaker, healthcare consultant, and has designed and executed award winning wellness programs. Ryan lives in Omaha with his wife Jina and two twin daughters, Elliott and Luca, who have redefined his definition of wellness.

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