Issue #208: Work-Life Wellness

The mental health crisis is redefining wellbeing in the workplace.

top of mind

According to US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, mental health is the country’s top concern and employers should play a key role in providing a solution:

“Leaders must prioritize mental health in the workplace by addressing structural barriers to seeking help and reducing stigma…”

In releasing a report on the matter, Vivek’s office said that stress and burnout rates among the country’s workforce have reached an all-time high.

  • 76% of workers in the US reported at least one symptom of mental illness.
  • 84% of employees reported that work-related factors negatively impacted their mental health.
  • Poor mental health among workers costs the US economy $48 billion annually in lost productivity.

In addition to improving public health, the report cites company performance as a motivating factor – with happier and more engaged employees leading to 23% higher profits.

Work Life Wellness. According to a new study by the company’s platform Gympass, employees are not willing to sacrifice their health for work.

  • 83% of employees believe their well-being is just as important as their salary.
  • 77% say they would consider leaving a company that isn’t focused on wellbeing.
  • 85% of employees are more likely to stay with a company when their employer promotes well-being.

A survey commissioned by Indeed suggests more change is on the way, and found that 50% of people believe their company isn’t doing enough to improve employee well-being and happiness.

New Strategies. While most employers offer wellness services, many programs focus on smoking cessation, weight management, and lifestyle coaching.

But now, says consultancy NFP, companies are making changes:

  • 55% of employers have launched virtual mental health resources in the past year.
  • About a third provide health coaching (35%) or internal mental health resources (29%), and 22% invest in peer support groups.

Currently, companies spend $200 to $600 per employee on welfare benefits. But over the next year, half of employers plan to increase investment by 5-25%.

bottom-up growth

A number of mental health platforms targeting employers, such as Lyra Health, Modern Health, and SonderMind, have garnered billions of dollars in reviews.

Consumer-focused health and fitness brands are increasingly selling themselves as enterprise solutions. Remarkably, companies originally focused on athletic performance, fitness and weight loss are expanding into mental wellbeing.

  • After launching a mental wellbeing program, diet app Noom recently launched a B2B service.
  • Exos introduced The Game Changer, a workplace wellness program designed to prevent employee burnout.
  • After acquiring mindfulness company Core, Hyperice launched a corporate wellness offering.
  • WHOOP debuted Unite, using the company’s wearable to help employers manage mental and physical stress.

Meanwhile, mindfulness companies Calm and Headspace are pivoting from DTC content to health and corporate sales.

B2B2C. As Andreessen Horowitz points out, healthcare companies are running the bottom-up playbook perfected by SaaS startups.

But now, in search of new, more sustainable growth channels, wellness-focused companies are using consumer appeal to woo employers and insurers.

As consumers and businesses embrace holistic wellness, brands are looking to employer contracts as a path to better margins, lower initial costs, and more predictable revenue.

Looking ahead: As the definition of wellness evolves and a healthier workplace becomes imperative to wellbeing, you can expect more DTC brands to enter into B2B partnerships. But first, they need to reach a critical mass of loyal consumers who can get HR to pick up the tab.


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