4 Wellness Topics of Note for 2022

“2022 Employee Wellbeing Predictions” spotlight new and ongoing wellness opportunities.

By Kacey Larsen      
4 Wellness Topics of Note for 2022

The Pantone Color Institute announced its 2022 Color of the Year to be PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri. Marking the first time in the Color of the Year’s history a new color was created, the color features qualities of blues with a violet-red undertone. The announcement reveals Very Peri is representative of the “transition we are going through. As we emerge from an intense period of isolation, our notions and standards are changing, and our physical and digital lives have merged in new ways.” 

Now you might be wondering, what does the Pantone Color of the Year announcement have to do with wellness? Well, the very trends that Pantone declared as the inspiration for the creation of Very Peri came up during Virgin Pulse’s recent “2022 Employee Wellbeing Predictions” webinar.

The webinar shared 15 predictions for 2022 from members of the Virgin Pulse Leadership Team, its Science Advisory Board, VP+ partners (companies who are part of the integrated well-being solution) and THRIVEx 2021 keynote speakers. From those predictions, four key wellness topics emerged when looking ahead to 2022.

1. Normalizing mental health care.

Anxiety, stress and burnout all are reported at high levels these days, making it imperative for mental health support to be commonplace. Part of this normalization is to destigmatize it and reiterate services, tools, etc. are accessible — and even encouraged — for all employees to use. Men especially may need tailored messaging or encouragement around this.

Richard Branson, founder, Virgin, says, “Supporting the mental health of employees, customers and the wider community should already be a major priority for companies around the world. In the year ahead, as working from home becomes more common and our lives grow more interconnected than ever, there will be even greater focus upon mental health alongside physical health and well-being. This should have a positive impact on individuals, businesses and communities.”

2. Holistic employee wellness plans.

Employees who believe management is connected to them as a whole person are most invested and productive at their jobs. This ties into offering comprehensive wellness programs that acknowledge the tie between mental and physical health as well as are suitable for a diverse workforce. Plus, recognizing that employees also may be caring for themselves, for children, for parents, etc. and may need individualized support, not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Zubin Damania, M.D., host of the ZDOGGMD Show, internist and entrepreneur says, “I predict in 2022, we will finally start to wake up to the fact that our health and well-being depends on the mind as much as the physical body, on our social connections, on our communities. We will be less likely to reduce everything to pills and procedures, and more willing to treat health as the complex, holistic, connected endeavor that it is.”

3. Abundance of digital solutions and tools.

Many touted this as a revolutionization of healthcare, with doctors being available at the press of a button now with virtual visits that further accessibility as well as better management of chronic conditions. Another benefit to digital offerings is that employees often can go at their own pace and keep an eye on their progress, status, etc. without it being a chore to do so. The plethora of options available makes it crucial for an employer to vet and narrow a list of offerings to those best suited and with proven results.

Amanda Graham, Ph.D., chief of innovations, EX Program by Truth Initiative says, “Employers and health plans that want to get the greatest impact from their health and wellness offerings will simplify the process for their people to tackle thorny health issues. This means owning the process of selecting high-quality vendors rather than making employees sift through multiple options; actively promoting programs on an ongoing basis in ways that are accessible and appealing to employees; pivoting away from promotion strategies that are ineffective; and relying on data to inform these efforts.”

4. Weaving DE&I into well-being strategies.

Several of those tapped for 2022 predictions mentioned the social determinants of health (SDOH), defined by the CDC as “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes.” The importance of SDOH when it comes to workplace well-being is that health typically starts at home, and someone who might live in a neighborhood where, for example, gym access is not available yet that’s the basis of a workplace physical fitness plan will feel that disparity. It falls upon employers to wake up to inequities in hiring, benefits and pay, and have more awareness about the communities where offices are located.

Marlette Jackson, Ph.D., director of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Virgin Pulse, says, “We know that BIPOC employees, employees with disabilities and employees born outside the U.S. are the most likely to perceive bias at work. Given the intricate tie between bias, inclusion, retention and well-being, it’s imperative we ensure our minoritized employees do not feel excluded. Why? Because employees who feel included are 28% more engaged at work, have 19% greater well-being and typically intend to stay with their company 3-times longer.”  

Virgin Pulse released an e-book, “2022 Wellbeing Predictions from Health and Wellbeing Experts,” that features the 15 predictions shared during the recent webinar plus more.