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Why Employee Experience is Devouring Wellness

By Scott Dinwiddie


A quiet revolution is stirring in the world of work that promises to reconfigure the wellness landscape. Leading organizations are making outsized investments in Employee Experience (EX) design to align their business models around outcomes that serve the interest of all stakeholders. They’re placing large bets on the idea that when work is designed to promote employee growth and fulfillment, the benefits will carry directly into the customer experience and onto the bottom line.


The question is not if this blossoming EX movement will swallow wellness as we have known it for decades, but simply how long it will take. Wellness at work is influenced by a wide array of factors spread throughout the hundreds of touchpoints, stages, and transitions that comprise the employee’s entire journey at work. By accounting for this complete spectrum of experiences, EX provides a framework for managing wellbeing that is logically more effective than the narrow, fragmented approach that has characterized most traditional wellness programs.  


Under the EX model, wellness becomes a bigger priority than ever before. It serves as one of several key indicators needed to measure the quality of the overall experience, positioned alongside employee engagement, recruitment/retention, measures of productivity, business performance, and customer success. When deploying a wellness solution inside of an EX strategy, each of these related outcomes must be considered and balanced against the others. Attempts to curtail health risk and cost using methods that compromise other aspects of the employee experience is simply bad for business and won’t be tolerated as the EX mindset is adopted. If it’s not good enough for your customers, it’s not good enough for your employees.


This transition to EX will be slow and challenging, perhaps requiring the next decade to fully transform how wellness is viewed and managed in American workplaces. However, some of our biggest and most successful companies have been operating on a similar model now for years. In many cases, they were sufficiently sheltered from the health cost crisis, affording them the luxury of not needing to reach for wellness as a cost containment solution. From day one, it was about attracting, retaining, and unleashing human potential by creating an environment optimized for employee thriving.


I suspect this may be why we've all heard about the various things Google does to create an engaging and energizing workplace, but we’ve never seen a study analyzing the ROI of their “wellness program.” At the most desirable companies, wellness is baked into the entire experience which has been thoughtfully designed from the first recruitment message and extends even into the space beyond the employee's eventual departure when they join a celebrated network of “alumni” who willingly serve as brand ambassadors for their former employer.


Consider Google’s amazing learning and development programs or how they take care of their people at their most vulnerable moments, and we can behold the power of an EX designed to nurture wellbeing in a truly holistic way. The future of worksite wellness won’t leave behind health screenings or familiar solutions targeting physical, mental, or financial wellbeing. The best parts today’s programs will be retained, improved upon, and more thoughtfully integrated into the EX model where they can add more value than ever before.

In other words, EX provides wellness with the space and structure that was always necessary for it to fully permeate the culture of an organization. Inside of EX, wellness is growing up.

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