As an entrepreneur, a question I keep asking myself is, ‘What do people need? What could make them happier and more fulfilled?’ The most obvious way to answer that question is, of course, to ask them, but it is also interesting and useful to look at trends and see how we can proactively make things better before people ask. A trend that is seen across many demographics is the trend towards preventive healthcare and wellness. People no longer wait to get sick before seeking wellness and are constantly looking for ways to stay well and get healthier.
The global wellness market is currently valued at $1.5 trillion, according to a recent McKinsey report, with an annual growth rate of 5-10 percent. For most people, wellness includes several parameters:
Better appearance and
Better overall health (including mental health)
How are these trends unfolding, and how can we as employers take steps to help our people reach their own personal goals?
Mindfulness, simply put, is the act of being fully present in the moment or while performing an activity. Anything done mindfully, whether it is mindful eating or mindful working, is said to be more impactful or meaningful for the person doing it. In the therapeutic space, mindfulness involves acknowledging one’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions without being overwhelmed. Meditation and mindfulness are often linked. Music helps build mindfulness by creating an atmosphere where one can focus and block out external distractions. Creating a work atmosphere that is conducive to mindfulness using music and scheduled uninterrupted work time can be very beneficial
We are, to quote sleep expert Mathew Walker, people continuously building sleep debt. Most of us are sleep poor, both in terms of quantity and quality. In addition to setting aside enough time to sleep, Walker prescribes sleep hygiene or sleep routines, which include eating light at night, setting aside devices, listening to soft music and creating an environment conducive to sleeping in your bedroom. These are ways to train your brain and body to relax, unwind and prepare for a restful night of sleep. Discourage the use of email and messaging after hours unless it’s essential.
Better fitness is at the centre of health and well-being. Whether it is exercising at home, training for a 10K, going to the gym, joining a group fitness class or taking up a team sport, more working professionals are making time to exercise. Not only does this burn calories and increase metabolism, but it has the added benefit of improving mood and mental health and is often a good way to socialize. Wherever possible, offering group fitness plans to employees, or starting clubs could be helpful. Studies have shown that listening to music can make workouts more effective in multiple ways.
Dieting has often been seen as an important part of good health, but people are moving away from the concept of ‘dieting’ towards ‘mindful eating’ and ‘fueling’. Rather than promoting deprivation, new trends are towards more healthy, unprocessed food and eating well. In addition to tracking calories, people also track macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fibre). In offices, if there are canteens, consider making healthy food available, and food that caters to specific diets, such as gluten free, keto, or vegan.
Most of us are concerned about our appearance, and often, in workplaces, there is an emphasis placed on being well turned out. This includes not only dressing well, but makeup, supplements, special clothing and cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic procedures are on the rise, especially among young people. This is often attributed to social media, or two years of zoom calls during the pandemic. Lasik, Liposuction, botox and plastic surgery all have more and more takers. As employers, we should do our best to promote health while supporting the individuality of our team. Some ways to do this could be to offer counselling, advice against clinics that may not be well qualified and offering medical leave to team members recovering from procedures.
BETTER OVERALL HEALTH
All of these parameters lead to better overall health, or holistic health, which includes mental health. A record number of individuals are reporting mental health struggles, and therapy is becoming more mainstream than it was previously. Music has been known to influence mood and is a tool that can be used. There is an increased use of technology, whether in the case of fitness trackers, digital wearables or with complete health platforms and remote monitoring and telemedicine. Companies like Ultrahuman and Cult are at the forefront of this in India, where the emphasis is on using technology to become the best version of yourself. As organisations, we should see how these fit into our value system, and what facilities, including therapy and counselling, can be made available to our teams, online and offline.
When working out of the office, consider events that could create and sustain engagement. Host workshops and concerts. Have music playing in work and recreational areas. Connect with your teams and see what they value.
As we move forward in the time of the great resignation, we must acknowledge that we need to adapt and be sensitive to the needs of our team. Many of us identify as purpose-driven companies, and it’s not difficult to understand that individual employees also have their own sense of purpose and there needs to be alignment between their careers and the rest of their lives. Most people value autonomy, flexibility, and remote working, but as organizations, we must still try to build a connected culture.
Bindu Subramanian is the CEO and Co-founder of Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts.