Lately, I have been asked a lot about our focus on workplace wellness.

  • It is the subject of a major research project this year at the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). 
  • We have already had one roundtable in New York on the topic, with another scheduled for September in Miami. 
  • We are having one main stage panel, possibly two, on workplace wellness at our Global Wellness Summit in Mexico City this November. 
  • Various key speakers—including Deepak Chopra, MD, and Nerio Alessandri from Technogym—will incorporate the topic into their remarks. 
  • And you may have noticed that we are mentioning it regularly in our Global Wellness Brief.

I think when people ask me about this focus, they are really asking, “Have you gone crazy? There is more going on than just workplace wellness.” Perhaps they are too polite to put it quite so bluntly. Also, many people think this is mostly a U.S. trend, while others simply cannot see how this relates to them and what they do.

The answer to why we are focusing so much attention and so many resources on workplace wellness is simple: It touches us all. And that means opportunities for us all. 

Getting out in front of this developing trend seems like a smart thing to do, and in keeping with the DNA of the GWI, we are catalyzing the conversations on the topic, bringing together thought leaders to engage and explore the topic and its impact on the world.

You might remember that this is what we did with wellness tourism—we introduced it when it was just beginning to trend, and the Institute’s research report, the Global Wellness Tourism Economy, gave it great momentum. If you read this Brief’s article on the Wales roundtable, you will see a specific example of the progress being made by a country that is emphasizing wellness tourism.  And take a look at the title of the first article in this week's reading section. "Wellness tourism taking the vacation world by storm."  You can guess how much I enjoyed seeing that title!

Workplace wellness is a little different; I do not see it as a separate, industry vertical within a wider wellness world. I see it as the “context” for so much of what is happening globally in the wellness arena. I have seen firsthand how the conversation is shifting, radically, from ROI and a numbers game for benefits managers to a more holistic and profound examination of what makes us happy, engaged, respected and thriving. 

I have heard the best minds on the subject—from the Cleveland Clinic to Virgin Pulse to the Clinton Global Initiative—debate the value of workplace safety, fresh air, standing desks, access to medical services, including mental health options, yoga in the office, flexible schedules and so much more. And I have read many of the major studies as I endeavor to keep abreast of the very latest research.  

I am convinced that the discussions around the changing nature of work (with 37 percent of the workforce in the U.S. expected to be mobile by 2015) and the gaining momentum of wellness and wellbeing measurements, including the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and UK’s Happy Planet Index, are just the tip of the iceberg.        

A shout-out to my colleagues in the spa industry—you are really sitting in an ideal seat to ride this wave of interest in workplace wellness. Given your expertise, you can become an educational resource for companies looking to provide employees everything from yoga to massage to mindfulness. You can hold classes and conversations in your facilities; your gift cards can be the reward employers give their employees. Create events, create community and help lead this important shift in the wellness conversation.

It would be such a great thing if we all spent a bit of time discussing this topic with our colleagues to begin cross-pollinating ideas—and better yet, participating in creating a culture of wellbeing in the places in which we work. 

Workplace wellness could be another gold mine…but only if you know where to dig.

About Susie Ellis

Susie Ellis is chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute and leads its research and wellness initiatives. She also guides the Global Wellness Summit. Susie is a prominent industry analyst and speaker and is frequently quoted in news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Financial Times. Additionally, she is president of Spafinder Wellness, Inc. ®

AuthorSusie Ellis