by Keith Kitani | February 04, 2014
The benefits of having a positive work culture are well known: Increased employee satisfaction and engagement, decreased absenteeism, and higher productivity are just a few of the benefits. As we embark on 2014, employers must revisit how they augment new benefits plans with wellness programs and how they effectively communicate those plans to employees. Here’s a closer look at trends affecting the workplace in 2014.

The Aftermath of Healthcare Reform
With employees still likely confused about how healthcare reform impacts them personally, companies have an opportunity to engage with them, educate them on changes, and encourage enrollment in positive, healthy activities. 

A Variety of Wellness Programs Will Emerge
Wellness programs will be increasingly sought after when new grads look for jobs. Organizations with robust offerings will likely be more successful when recruiting, especially in industries where talent retention is critical. One Fortune 500 company recently rolled out an employee competition that monitored healthy eating choices and exercise, rewarding the winners with both recognition from the employer and a big bonus check. 

Digital Communications and the Millennials
Millennials will continue to grow as a percentage of the workforce in 2014, and not just in entry-level positions. As this generation moves up, they will continue to push employers to meet them on the devices they use every day. Easy-to-access, engaging, and branded digital employee communication will be key. For example, a digital guide to the best running routes around the office, delivered in the unique voice of the company, is an effective way to promote wellness and build on company culture. 

Personal Safety Will Be Paramount
Companies need to tackle the delicate but vital topic of personal safety and corporate security policies. Wellness offerings will increasingly include programs on how to handle stress after traumatic events and mental health assistance. 

Back to the Office
“Working from home” will continue to be scrutinized in 2014, with large organizations re-examining their policies to ensure that employees have necessary in-office interaction. This will push employers to offer perk 
programs that give employees incentives to stay at the office. 

Implementing wellness plans that take into account recent reform, new generations in the workforce, and personal safety can lead to improved employee retention and have a positive impact on the bottom line. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, time, and energy. Small and simple programs can be just as effective as larger ones, as long as you execute well and employ effective employee communications to ensure workforce engagement and participation at all ages and levels. 

Keith Kitani is the CEO of GuideSpark, an online provider of human resources and employee communications tools and solutions. Kitani is a successful entrepreneur and software executive with more than 20 years of experience building technology companies.