Health and Wellbeing Apps in the Workplace

This is the first in a series on wellbeing apps that you may want to consider for the workplace. Research suggests that today’s workforce is less active and more stressed than ever before, yet the health, wellbeing and fitness app market continues to grow at a formidable pace.

A recent Forbes piece predicted that “worldwide wearables sales will grow by an average of 20% each year over the next five years, becoming a $29 billion market with 243 million-unit sales by 2022.” Health and wellbeing apps, and related technologies, are only becoming more prevalent, which could have a positive impact on how much employees move and maintain lower stress levels on a daily basis.

Forward-thinking organizations acknowledge the correlation between healthier, happier employees and increased productivity, engagement, and loyalty. Utilising the existing technology to enhance or refresh your wellbeing initiatives around physical, mental, financial, social health and more just makes sense. Many EAP (Employee Assistance Program)s offer an app as part of their service. They vary on content and accessibility but are worth downloading and accessing initially to see if useful as they are provided free of charge to employees when offered as part of the EAP provision.

With so many app options available, we thought it would be helpful to look at some of the apps that we are familiar with, from general health to topic specific (like movement, nutrition, mental health or sleep). This is the first in a series of articles on health and wellbeing apps in the workplace. We certainly haven’t tried them all, but we are familiar with some and so are you. Over this series we look at some of the apps that are available and give our thoughts (and in some cases, experience).

First up below, we take a look at one of the more popular Health and Wellbeing apps: Headspace at Work – Your Partner in Employee Mental Health – Headspace. Several workplaces I spoke with offer it to their staff. So, I decided to try it myself. Below is my reaction and a few others.

If the workplace signs up then there is the employer dashboard page that the Wellbeing Lead gets to see to Easily launch, manage, and see the impact of your program with your employer dashboard, engagement resources, and measurement tools. Headspace is a meditation, sleep and mindfulness app. Using it regularly (even just 10 minutes a day) helps to listen in and clear your mind, increase your attention span, alertness and gain an instant calm.

Functionality Headspace is very easy to use and offers a variety (1,000+) of short, easy to fit in and useful activities for any time of day (such as short meditations, mindful activities and sleepcasts) that really did help me to feel better, particularly to sleep better. It became quickly obvious why Headspace is so popular

Evidence base There are over 2,000 meditation apps out there, but Headspace is one of the only ones committed to advancing the field of mindfulness meditation through clinically validated research on their product.

That comes from their marketing but, on further look, it does seem that Headspace do an awful lot of research and the app collects data such that ongoing evaluation is easy to do and prove the effectiveness.

What we like As mentioned above, Headspace is easy to use any time of day (in work or outside) and offers a variety of short, useful activities and meditations to help you feel calmer, more centred and to sleep better. Activities tend to be anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes and the sleepcasts and playlists tend to be a little longer (40 minutes plus). It is convenient and offers enough variety to keep me interested and motivated to continue using. One of the more popular supports it provides with people I spoke with was the sleepcasts and helping to sleep better. My experience suggests that if you use Headspace fairly regularly even a few times during the day then you can feel calmer over time and this helps improve sleep but the sleepcasts are designed to provide soothing narrations to help you feel sleepy and ultimately sleep easier and hopefully better and longer.

I wasn’t impressed with having to give my credit details for a free trial as I had to remember to cancel the subscription to avoid being charged. Otherwise, I found the app useful and definitely worth trying.

Last but certainly not least, several workplaces locally in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are using headspace.

Quotes/testimonials/case study from local workplaces:

Sarah Atkins, Director of People and Culture, East Anglia Air Ambulance (EAAA), “We provide Headspace and 87% to our employees and contractors. Uptake has been pretty good for Headspace, as has feedback” “I would recommend Headspace to other workplaces considering apps as an addition to their staff wellbeing programme.”

Amy Herbertson (Assoc CIPD), People & Culture Business Partner, simPRO Software Ltd– “Employees are given 6 months free. If (they) want to, they can pay for additional. (the app is) Well used and received.” “I’ve downloaded the app myself and think it’s a great app!”

Lauretta Lamont, Employee Engagement Partner and MHFA with Wellcome Sanger, “We use it (Headspace). We bought 400 licences last year across our 1200 staff and they got used straight away so this year we negotiated 1200 via our procurement team. Staff love it for wake up and sleep in particular.”

Cost and how to get: There are a few options. If your workplace wants to provide it then they can arrange a workplace deal directly with Headspace for Work (Olha Kruchok, olha.kruchok@headspace.com) who will provide you with a personalised quote based on the size of your business.

For individuals, download a free 1- or 2-weeks trial of Headspace Plus subscription (there will be a requirement to enter the credit card details, just ask the team to cancel a subscription during a trial to not be charged) or download a free version of the app. Here is an overview of what’s included for free.

*If you opt to pay for a subscription following a free trail, you’ll need to choose to pay either £4.17 per month (billed yearly @ £49.99 year) or pay monthly @ £9.99 per month (119.88 year). This series will discuss several health and wellbeing apps on the market currently but, of course, creating a culture of wellbeing goes further than just encouraging the use of health, wellbeing and fitness apps. Creating a health & wellbeing strategy can help enhance not only a population’s health but overall workforce productivity and business performance. The Healthy Workplace service can help with that – Contact Us – Healthy Workplaces (healthyworkplacescp.co.uk)

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