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The Skift Wellness newsletter is our weekly dispatch focused on what’s happening in wellness from a global business standpoint. Skift Wellness lives where wellness meets commerce, mindfulness meets technology, the yoga studio meets the boardroom, and health meets business.
If you heard news of an employer offering jaw-dropping wellness perks to its workers a few years ago, chances are it was a technology company such as Google, Netflix, Facebook, or the like. Fast forward to 2019, and a range of companies now see the value in providing employees with wellness benefits that go beyond healthy snacks.
Take the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY). It now offers its Australian staffers six to 12 weeks of annual “life leave.” Employees can use the time to travel, relax to prevent burnout, or even pursue a passion project. While it may seem counterproductive to have employees absent from the office for that amount of time, EY has actually found it adds value. According to the company, the flexibility increases workforce engagement by 11 percent.
The reason behind the offering isn’t just benevolence. EY hopes to appeal to top-talent millennials in the workforce who want more flexibility and fewer by-the-book work experiences. And it knows change is coming: “By next year, 80 percent of EY’s workforce across the globe will be millennials, so this is a particularly significant consideration for us,” said Kate Hillman, EY director.
Startups are also looking to address the wellness-seeking worker. The New York City co-working-meets-spa space 3den charges $6 per half hour for people to come in and work (at sitting or standing desks) and take advantage of its spa-like offerings and complimentary clean beauty products. In addition to walk-ins, the founder is offering corporate memberships in which companies can pay for employees to work and meet outside the traditional office space.
It’s a creative concept, and if all goes well, the company hopes to open three or four more locations in Manhattan in 2019. We’ll see if more corporate-leaning companies and startups get on board with workplace wellness this year.
— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor
Ernst & Young Lets Australian Employees Take 12 Weeks of ‘Life Leave’ Every Year: More and more companies are trying to one-up each other with employee wellness perks, and it’s no longer just tech startups that are getting in on the action. In Australia, Ernst & Young is now offering staffers six to 12 weeks of extra self-funded “life leave” each year, which can be taken in one or two blocks of time. The goal: To appeal to flexibility-seeking millennials and help the company compete for talent. With a perk like that, we don’t think it will have any trouble. Read more here.
New York City Now Has Its First-Ever Co-Working Spa: Customers can come for the meditation room and nap pods and stay for the free coffee and Wi-Fi at 3den, a new kind of wellness co-working space that charges $6 per 30-minutes on a walk-in basis. When workers want to take a break, they can try out free skincare and health products — some brands even pay to display their goods inside the space. And after recently receiving $2 million in seed funding, we will probably see more 3den locations to come. Read more here.
Lululemon Announces Big Fourth Quarter Earnings: The holidays were good to Lululemon. The athleisure brand announced yesterday that its fourth quarter earnings outpaced analysts’ estimates, which bumped the company’s shares up 10 percent. One of the reasons for the sales surge? Men’s apparel. “We really believe that Lululemon can be a duel gender brand and that our men’s business can ultimately be as big as our women’s,” said Lululemon’s chief operating officer Stuart Haselden. As more men get into wellness, that will likely be the case. Read more here.
Dyson Wants to Position Itself as a Well-Being Brand: Known for its Supersonic hair dryer and Airwrap curling iron, not to mention its vacuums and humidifiers, Dyson is looking to take a bigger stake in the wellness industry. That’s thanks to its recent launch of its Lightcycle light, which adapts its brightness and color based on the time of day, owner’s routine, and even age, for presumably better sleep and health. The brand already makes widely popular air purifiers, so this seems like a logical expansion of its wellness lineup. Read more here.
CBD Creams and Ointments, Now Stocked at CVS: CVS customers can now add CBD products to their shopping lists. The pharmacy chain is partnering with Medterra, a Laguna Hills, California-based CBD company, to bring its pain-relief ointments to shelves in seven states, including Colorado and California. Other CBD brands, like Curaleaf, will be entering the pharmacy soon as well. The move shows just how mainstream the CBD industry has become. Read more here.
Need to Visit a Gynecologist? There’s a Startup for That: In this startup-happy climate, it was only a matter of time before a membership-based women’s wellness clinic entered the scene. The Tia Clinic in New York City fills that role, charging women $150 a year for services like easy appointment-booking, expansive care plans (rather than just a prescription and push out the door), and access to the company’s health-tracking app. Whether it can really change women’s healthcare is up for debate. Read more here.
Digital Wellness Marketing Strategies Create New Controversies: Advertising prescription medications on TV has long come with a set of FDA guidelines. For example, companies have to balance the description of the product with the risks posed (which is why brands speed through all those drug side effects). Digital-first health companies, however, have been able to get away with more on social media, as regulations haven’t caught up to changing technology. Consumers have begun flagging ads (like a controversial one for Hers). But is this really enough oversight? The discussion is growing. Read more here.
Food & Drink
What Does Our Changing View of the Calorie Mean for Brands? We now know that all calories aren’t created equal, and the tedious system of counting calories is flawed and likely does little to help people actually lose weight. But grocery shelves are still stocked with “low-calorie” packaged goods that appeal to the calorie-confused customer. Researchers want overhauls in what products get deemed “healthy,” but companies and governments worldwide argue that doing so would be too expensive. Like it or not, in an era of personalized nutrition, change may be coming. Read more here.
Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.