Employee well-being remains top of mind for many companies, and 2017 promises plenty of innovation as employers work to engage and empower their employees. Trends in nutrition, technology and science will be key going forward.

So what should you and your clients be watching? 

Workplace well-being and engagement programs are evolving rapidly, and the past year has been one of tremendous innovation. Around the globe, organizations are adopting new and advanced employee well-being programs in greater numbers.

A recent study of global employers by Buck Consultants found that 74 percent of companies consider well-being to be a key element of their employee value proposition.

As with any advancing industry, it's important for us to look ahead to the future of workplace well-being. This will ensure we're ready to embrace change and adopt the best practices on behalf of employees.

We may not have a crystal ball, but we can rely on the next best thing: The Virgin Pulse Science Advisory Board, a group of international scholars and researchers in the fields of behavior change and workplace health.

With expertise in topics including occupational health, social psychology, global well-being, and behavioral economics, these scientists are at the forefront of the industry, and have keen insight into the future of workplace well-being.

Read on for their well-being predictions for 2017 and beyond.

Eric Finkelstein, PhD

Executive center director, Lien Centre of Palliative Care; Professor at Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical Center

“In 2017, there will be an increased emphasis on personal responsibility, such that employers and insurers will incentivize individuals for meeting healthy behaviors, partly through the increasing use of wearables and other measurement devices.”

Dr. Finkelstein's prediction speaks to a growing body of research that is evaluating the effect of wearable devices on long-term behavior change. While the results so far are mixed — and the need for continued inquiry is clear — it is evident that wearables are no passing fad in the workplace.

Devices that help employees track their behavior are helping them stay mindful of their decisions, their challenges, and their progress toward their goals. As Dr. Finkelstein suggests, this technology appears to have a lot of value to employers, as it's a validated source of data. With devices, employers gain a tool not only for inspiring healthier choices among employees, but also for measuring improvement and organizational outcomes. Plus, financial incentives become more meaningful when they are tied to validated results — for the employee and the employer alike.

Ron Goetzel, PhD

Senior scientist and director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

“In the months and years ahead, employees will have a greater say in the design, implementation, and fine-tuning of programs.”

In the past decade, workplace well-being has experienced a boom. No longer solely focused on physical health and fitness, employee well-being programs have dramatically expanded in an attempt to address additional determinants of well-being: stress, sleep, nutrition, finances, social relationships, mindfulness, and even spirituality.

Dr. Goetzel's prediction is aligned with this evolution. Employers now understand that the journey to well-being is a deeply personal one, defined uniquely by the needs and desires of each individual employee. As employers seek to create and provide relevant and engaging tools, they have begun to turn to their employees for feedback and insight into the programs that will have the most impact and benefit. Dr. Goetzel's prediction speaks to the natural maturation of these programs as employers and employees together gain more experience with them.

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