State of the Industry: Employee Engagement & Wellness in 2015 (Priorities, Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts exploring the current state of the employee engagement and wellness industry.

It’s an exciting time for the employee engagement and well-being industry. Gone are the days when companies viewed these programs as ‘nice to do’ or ones that yielded ‘soft’ benefits.

Research shows that companies with high engagement scores perform better in key operational areas like productivity, absenteeism, turnover, safety and quality incidents, shrinkage, customer metrics, and profitability, according to Gallup. That’s not all. Research on employee engagement and productivity continues to show the basic health and well-being of employees indicates how engaged they’ll be on the job.

Business leaders care about and are measured against these metrics, so it’s no wonder they’re launching initiatives to boost employee engagement and well-being. They get it. A healthy, engaged workforce is good for business.

But what are companies actually doing to create that type of workforce, you ask?

We were curious, too. That’s why we recently teamed up with Human Capital Media, the research arm of Workforce magazine. Together, we surveyed 1,395 HR management professionals across a broad range of industries and organization sizes.

The goal? Gain a deep look at the state of the employee engagement and well-being industry, and discover how and why organizations are budgeting, implementing, measuring and improving employee engagement and wellness programs.

The result? A new report featuring rich data and insights about the state of the industry, and how organizations are using employee engagement and well-being programs to improve their employees’ lives and boost their businesses.

Over the next few weeks we’ll dig into the report’s top findings here on The Uprising. Up first – a look at what’s on executives’ and HR managers’ priority lists for 2015.

2015 Plans & Priorities

In the year ahead, companies say they’ll continue to invest in employee engagement, talent recruiting and retention, and employee well-being. Most executives and HR managers agree on these priorities, yet differ slightly on what they view as most important.


Unsurprisingly, executives’ priorities tend to align with overall organizational goals while managers’ priorities tend to align with functional objectives. That’s why executives’ are more concerned with employee engagement as a whole vs. talent retention specifically.

Companies will also continue to look for ways to resolve industry-specific challenges in the coming year. For example, we asked respondents to share their top challenges for 2015. Seventy-two percent said they needed to find an executive sponsor for their wellness program. That number rose significantly for respondents in the food industry – nearly all said that this was their top challenge.

Here’s a look at industry-specific priorities for 2015:

Finally, while most companies agree on top priorities for 2015, they also concur about what’s not a priority. And moving to a private health exchange is the least of their concerns.

Nearly 80 percent of companies say they’re not considering a switch to a private health exchange. What’s more, close to 70 percent of all organizations, executives, and HR Managers agreed that considering such a switch was at the bottom of their 2015 priority lists.

It seems companies simply aren’t convinced that such a switch would truly yield beneficial outcomes and long-term savings. This year, many employers will take a wait and see approach before considering a shift.

For more on what tops executives’ and managers’ priority lists for 2015, get a copy of the full report and its findings. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at what’s happening with budgets for employee engagement and well-being programs in 2015. Meantime, tell us what’s top priority for you and your organization in 2015 when it comes to employee engagement and well-being. Post a comment or tweet us @virginpulse.

Katie Tierney is Director of Marketing at Virgin Pulse where she leads marketing communications and public relations. One of Virgin Pulse’s original employees, Katie led efforts to create National Employee Wellness Month, a campaign that helps business leaders learn how companies are successfully engaging employees in healthy lifestyles. A pop culture champ and dance buff, Katie can usually be found busting a move in a Zumba class (or anywhere, really). Follow Katie on twitter: @k_tierney.

5 Books to Help Enhance Well-being

People Doing Yoga 77736542 (1)Cold, snowy winters may not necessarily make for ideal conditions outdoors, but that’s no excuse to leave your health in the dust. Instead, bring your well-being focus inward – spend some quality time with family members, use tax season as an excuse to organize finances, or catch-up on a forgotten reading list.

To give you a head start on the latter, we’ve pulled together a list of top titles on health, well-being, employee engagement, and more.

  1. Foodist – To anyone who wants to learn how to eat healthily and mindfully without dieting or spending hours in the kitchen, this is the book for you. Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D., digs into the molecular science of food and explains how and why it positively or negatively affects your body. (This is my personal fav of the bunch!) And if you want a sneak peak before you buy, download the first chapter for free or check out her blog for other thoughts, recipes, and tips on developing your own individual “health-style.”
  1. Thrive – Arianna Huffington makes the case for well-being and productivity, explaining why and how she set boundaries between her job and her home life. Not only did this major change positively her health, but it boosted her work efficiency and focus. Hear excerpts from book in her own voice in her podcast, “The Vacation Mistake We’re All Making.”
  1. Strengths Finder 2.0 – Written and published by Gallup this book has reliably stayed at the top of the charts for over seven years now. Helping individuals assess their own strengths and providing information to managers to help them utilize their workforce in the most ideal way, Strengths Finder 2.0 helps ID employees’ top skills. Bottom line: it’s a bonus for you, and will be a great value-add for them.
  1. Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing – Time crunch and fire drills the name of the game at work this season? Use this book to help encourage employees to find new, interesting, and challenges ways to get active, blow off some steam, and stay sharp.
  1. Q&A a Day: 5 Year Journal. Mindfulness. It’s the 2015 buzzword, but can also be a tough concept to grasp. It’s clearly something we should practice and helps us tune into important life events—but how? This five-year Q&A daily journal will help you and your workforce stay grounded and helps them compare thoughts, experiences, and goals year-over-year. Life is short, amigos – don’t miss out on yours!

For more ways to stay healthy this winter, see our blog post on how you can beat the winter blues.

Margaux Novak, Product Marketing Communications Manager, Virgin Pulse. Merging her knack for reading everything in sight with her slight risk-taker tendencies, Margaux’s always up for trying out newly researched marketing campaigns. Apart from this, she’s an avid traveler, photographer, and publishing poet. Follow her on Twitter: @margauxnovak

Battling the Winter Blues

465319039Recently in Boston, we’ve found ourselves buried under a record amount of the wet, white stuff. Multiple blizzards have repeatedly shut most of the state down these past few weeks – which is saying a lot in Massachusetts, where many of us New England natives consider five inches of snow a mere “dusting.” Moreover, seemingly endless “snow days” have been giving everyone the perfect excuse to forego the gym for a few days. (The hefty fine for driving during the government-mandated travel ban the other week may have helped there, too.)

Whether you live in the Northeast or not, dangerous winter weather can easily put a damper on your healthy habits. Even when there’s no blizzard or travel ban, it’s all too easy to find yourself pushing off a workout in favor of relaxing under a cozy blanket, and sipping hot cocoa. But after a while neglecting your workouts and indulging in comfort foods, combined with the cold conditions, will leave you feeling depleted at best.

Although it may not be swimsuit season anytime soon, maintaining healthy habits is key when it comes to battling the winter blues – not to mention employees’ performance at work. In fact, mid-day exercise drives 23 percent more productivity, while unhealthy eating habits motivates a 66 percent increased loss of productivity.

Wondering how you can help employees keep their healthy habits in check as we make our way through the rest of winter? Keep reading for two ways you can get started with today.

  1. Move it, move it
    Unless you’re a personal trainer, it may seem like you have little influence on your employees’ workout. While that’s true to a point, you can encourage your workforce to get and stay moving all year long by educating them on the benefits of exercise. Once they know that physical activity goes way beyond just a lean physique, you can support them in getting enough daily activity. Encourage employees to make time for mid-day workouts, help organize company-wide daily walking groups, or consider offering a gym reimbursement to make working out on their own time a little easier for employees.
  1. Put a little (meal) prep in their step
    Unhealthy meal choices often come down to convenience. If employees are rushing from one obligation to the next, it’s going to be a whole lot easier to snag a quick snack at the convenience store, rather than whipping up a healthy meal at home. But even the busiest of schedules can fit in nutritious options – it’s all about strategy. Start a collection of healthy recipes for employees to pull from, keep fresh produce around the workplace, or make brown bag lunches cool by encouraging employees to prep meals in advance.

Wondering what else you can do to help employees get a grip on their healthy habits? Download our new ebook, “Amping Up Employees’ Energy: What Health Habits Matter Most & Ways You Can Help” to learn more.


Kaite Bonneville is Marketing Communications Manager at Virgin Pulse, where she leverages her personal passion for health and happiness to create compelling content about employee well-being and engagement. Outside of the office, Kaite spends her time mentoring a high school student, and recently trained for and completed her first half marathon. 

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!