The Chief Wellness Officer is Here to Stay

Employee Wellness

Is the future of health directly correlated to the future of work? 

Even before the events of the past 18 months, the idea of staff wellbeing on an executive level was taking hold within the business and medical communities. Now that the effects of a global health crisis have rippled into each of our daily lives, the idea that businesses should be prioritizing company-wide health has evolved from a theory to a practice.

To keep up with times, many organizations have employed chief wellness officers. The new positions–and the amount of companies that have begun to seek them– are indicative of just how imperative workplace wellness has become to companies, employees and potential hires.

Here’s why having a chief wellness officer is the best hire you can make right now–and why we think this trend is here to stay. 

What is a Chief Wellness Officer?

A chief wellness officer (also known as a chief wellbeing officer or a chief wellness executive) seeks to make employee health and happiness crucial elements of a company’s strategic plan. The position is typically a C-level role, a departure from past wellness initiatives that lived within HR departments and were more compliance-based. 

Wellness officers are charged with improving employee retention, curbing burnout, building and maintaining morale, and understanding the workplace complexities that contribute to poor company culture. They help to solidify company values around wellness, implementing policies that promote staff health on both a broad and individual level. In the medical field, these roles have also sought to look beyond the welfare of physicians and medical staff in order to better understand how professional well-being affects the personal well-being of patients. 

The Importance of Workplace Wellness

As words like “burnout” and “imposter syndrome” move more and more into the national lexicon, attitudes around work-life balance have similarly shifted. Paid vacation and company-wide social events are now considered the bare minimum as employees look to invest their time and talent with companies who value their wellbeing. It turns out that there is good reason to expect more from businesses–holistic corporate wellness programs not only benefit employees’ mental health, but, when done correctly, they can transform output and profit. 

A recent article in Entrepreneur discusses just how influential well-developed wellness programs can be. Reduced absenteeism, lower medical costs and higher productivity were just some of the benefits born from healthy workplaces. Perhaps most importantly, employee retention was found to be stronger among companies that prioritized health and wellbeing. Many companies are turning to gardening as an engaging activity that delivers physical, mental and social health. The relationship between gardening and wellness is happening in real time.

“Companies don’t just think of employee wellness as a benefit, they view it as a strategy.” Doug Platts COO Gardenuity. Job stress costs American companies about $300 billion annually in health care costs. Depression alone is estimated to account for 44 billion in losses to workplace productivity.

The bottom line? Good people want to work for (and stay with) good companies, ones that they perceive to care about aspects of their lives beyond their work product. 

The Future of Health

Chief Wellness Officer w/ Puppies & Gardens

Currently, many employees are spending the majority of their time at their jobs, either in a physical office building or working remotely. Because so much of life has become work, companies must take on a new responsibility as a health resource as well as a financial one. With such a large percentage of potential hires adamant about corporate wellness, it will be imperative for businesses to prove that health is not just a priority, but a deeply embedded corporate value.  

During a moment so defined by health, companies looking to be leaders in employee wellbeing need to begin their work now. Chief wellness officers will play a critical role in planning for long-term wellness initiatives, implementing health-centric policies, and ensuring the physical and psychological welfare of business’ most crucial assets: their teams. 

Is your business looking to bolster wellness initiatives but not ready for a CWO? Learn how to attract top talent, strengthen corporate culture and improve employee health through gardening.