Employees are burning out, losing sleep, becoming less healthy, and being compounded by stress. Furthermore, healthcare costs continue to increase as companies struggle to maximize the productivity of their employees while also retaining them. It’s ironic in many ways, but companies are turning to technology to help employees cope with too much technology. Here’s a summary note from our deeper research on this space after interviewing dozens of companies, startups, experts and attending events.
With 80% of today’s companies offering wellness programs, there is a massive market for services in this space. Apps and comprehensive platforms are filling the needs of employers to provide wellness and engage their employees with wellness offerings. From on-demand meditation to one-stop-shops for all that is wellness, we’ve rounded up a who’s who in today’s corporate wellness tech space.
Before we go on, we’ve found multiple companies that have deployed mindfulness programs or fitness programs that intentionally do NOT use technology, in particular Google’s spin-out of Search inside Yourself teaches individuals to be mentally resilient and mindful without tech aids. We also heard from HR wellness industry experts and authors like Joel Bennett and Laura Putnam (thanks Janet Fouts for the intros) that if the company’s culture is mis-aligned, no technology or mindfulness practice is going to solve the bigger issues. So take heed before deploying tech without having a broader strategy.
We’ve interviewed many of these companies, tried their products, or heard from their customers in research interviews, here’s an overview of commonly mentioned tech providers:
Thrive Globaloffers a behavior change product suite to improve the well-being and performance of employees based on behavior change science. After her own exhaustion-fueled collapse, Arianna Huffington founded Thrive Global to reduce stress and burnout and promote wellness. Its offerings focus on these pillars: Integration of Work & Life, Whole Human Approach, Steeped in Science, Actionable Microsteps, Personally Immersive, and Global Scale. In addition to their corporate product suite, Thrive Global has a large wellness content network.
Virgin Pulse equips employees with knowledge, tools and support to build healthy habits to last a lifetime. The core mission of Virgin Pulse is to help businesses reduce healthcare costs, improve business performance, build a great company culture, integrate and optimize benefits and HR investments. A major part of their program is the Global Challenge, a 12-month employee fitness challenge. Virgin Pulse is part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Life Dojo connects employees to their goals and transforms physical, mental and emotional health, one lifestyle change at a time. Life Dojo offers a behavior change platform to address employer’s issue of under-utilized benefits for disease management, behavioral health, well-being. The programs that they offer include healthy eating, exercise, stress, resilience, sleep, stop smoking, financial skills, and they provide coaches to help employees reach their goals. They boast a number of clients, many who are fast-growing technology companies.
FitBliss offers a well-being platform that maximizes work performance through better health. Employees can manage their well-being with personalized tools, social engagement, and recognition for achieving their goals. The FitBliss platform includes well-being gamification, health education, health apps & wearables (integrates with most of today’s activity apps – Fitbit, Apple Health, Garmin, MyFitnessPal, Strava, Google Fit, Apple Watch, Runkeeper, Misfit, & more), wellbeing collaboration, employer program insights, personalized health management with an AI feature, and FitProductivity on Salesforce. Their platform integrates with Slack and Salesforce.
Castlight Health helps employees better navigate their health options. The focus of Castlight is to reach employees before they make care decisions, and guide them to the highest quality, lowest cost options. They integrate the complete health journey, all in one app, where they can access resources for staying healthy, access their care options and manage their conditions. This is all through the Jiff app acquired by Castlight Health in 2017.
Whil is a digital well-being training solution that helps employees reduce stress, increase resilience and improve their wellbeing and performance for happier, healthier and more engaged workforces. Whil offers 250+ science-based digital programs for mindfulness, sleep, emotional intelligence skills and more for happier, healthier employees. Goal-based resilience training for high performing cultures. Employees improve their mental and emotional wellbeing in micro learning sessions focused on the 12 aspects of employee well-being.
TRIPP is virtual reality that provides mindful, productive breaks. It offers companies of any size a turnkey solution that improves emotional and mental well-being in the workplace through a fun, engaging and innovative experience. Employees can easily launch TRIPP during breaks to help reduce stress, improve overall team productivity and morale. You put on the headset and it takes you through a meditation experience without the work – on-demand meditation in the workplace. I’ve asked this group to present at client engagements, as the only way to really experience this is in-person.
Motiv8 combines research with machine learning and AI to determine the best behavior change approach. This is an up-and-comer, it’s key to watch new entrants – not just established players. By understanding what makes each person unique, Motiv8 uses data science to select the most effective research-validated approach to support employees on their health journey. Founded by long-term entrepreneur from the social business space, Eugene Lee, one to watch.
SAP SuccessFactors “Work-Life”Is an upcoming feature on the already successful SuccessFactors platform that will that helps employees “thrive” at work and home. This solution provides personalized well-being resources and provides employers with aggregate data to identify employee stressors in real-time. This helps companies to improve productivity and their bottom-line. SuccessFactors uses wellness content provided by Thrive Global.
Honorable mentions of consumer apps that are now selling to enterprises: Calm, Headspace and Muse. They offer a variety of syndicated offerings that can be available to large employee bases. In particular, Calm recently raised $88M in funding a few months ago, and is now valued at over $1B. Headspace has clients in the airline industry, NBA, Genentech and many large companies and finally Muse is offering their solution for companies to give active feedback to employees on their mental focus by using their headset device and app.
Personalized approach with aggregate data to identify employee stressors
With the rise of wellness, it’s no surprise that we see such robust and established players in the HR Corporate Wellness Technology space – as well as new, emerging technologies addressing employee wellness. There is technology to gather all benefits in one place, track activity, delivery therapy and coaching, video and written content, provide access to standard health benefits and more. The idea is to make it easier to be well and do your job better.
While many companies roll out technology to employees to help them deal with focus, productivity, and happiness, we want to be sure to remind companies and business leaders that the most important strategies aren’t just technology, but ensuring your company culture lives by these values, executives are practicing these wellness behaviors, and employees are given permission to use them.
A new market has emerged. Technology has intersected with our wellness – to aid in monitoring, promoting, augmenting and managing our well-being. These low-cost technologies are transforming the field, making tools for managing wellness accessible to anyone who wants to adopt them. This stands in stark contrast to the way the current, traditional health industry approaches health and wellness, by requiring traditional practitioners, insurance, and a wide range of costs.
Users are turning to technology to supplement their diet, to develop their mind, aid their fitness, their sleep, and their reproductive health, improve the design of their environment and much more. Using these new tools, they’re not approaching wellness in a vacuum – the offerings typically involve supportive digital communities that help people share information, access other online and real-world communities, and grow and share the experience as a collective.
Throughout my career as an industry analyst, I’ve identified power shifts resulting from technology and helped to explain what they’ve meant to the world. I did this with the social media industry over a decade ago and the sharing /collaborative economy 5 years ago. Now I see a similar pattern yet again. In each of these phases, consumer-grade technology empowered people to get what they needed for things that formerly would have required them to rely on traditional institutions.
Above Funding Chart based on research by Kaleido Insights.
The graphic identifies the large number of emerging technology companies that are reshaping our minds, bodies, communities and the physical spaces around us. After reviewing about five hundred startups, we distilled them down to this list of about 100 companies based upon the following criteria: market traction, amount of funding or crowdfunding, media mentions, market presence and quality of vision.
I admit that these startups are mostly from the Western world. However, there are also a vast number of technologies emerging in Asia and (soon-to-be) Africa that aren’t yet fully represented.
Investment in this space is heating up, with companies having received over $2B in current funding. Acquisitions are already popping up – Under Armour acquired diet management app MyFitnessPal and Apple acquired sleep-monitoring device Beddit. Just last month, the meditation-focused app company Calm raised an additional $88M, for a total of $116M, cementing themselves as a prominent unicorn in this market, valued at over $1B.
THE NEED: Rising healthcare costs are a major issue. A significant number of people who are aging or have health woes cannot afford to see medical professionals on a frequent basis. These emerging startups provide an avenue to help them take control of their lives in a more affordable way. These technologies give users assistance in achieving overall wellness and help them take proactive measures for a healthy lifestyle.
THE NEED: Rising healthcare costs are a major issue. A significant number of people who are aging or have health woes cannot afford to see medical professionals on a frequent basis. These emerging startups provide an avenue to help them take control of their lives in a more affordable way. These technologies give users assistance in achieving wellness and help them take proactive measures for a healthy lifestyle.
UPSIDES AND OPPORTUNITY: People will be able to improve their physical, mental and spiritual well-being at a low cost. We expect soon to see personalized digital therapists, dietitians and doctors.
DOWNSIDES: Who controls the data? It’s not clear. Where will that data be used? Could a startup be acquired by an insurance company, pharmaceutical company, of sold to foreign actors? Risks around the control of personal health data is an important potential drawback to consider as this industry grows. Will a future artificial intelligence have enough information to predict your health journey or even your death, based on historical data correlated with millions of others? Will humans become addicted to these technologies as we have become to social networks? Will future dating websites, for example, emerge that match healthy people with healthy people, making the dystopian visions of the movie Gattica becomes into reality?
THE FUTURE: We expect to see a lot of growth especially in the Community category and around AI, creating digital virtual assistants for wellness and the like. And when a recession hits, this market will boom. In a period of stress, people will be struggling to find their mental balance, health and fitness but won’t have the funds to support traditional methods. As the anticipated recession engulfs the globe, expect people who have lost employer-provided healthcare to turn to lower-cost or freemium versions of wellness solutions.
Modern wellness is here. Expect a cultural shift in how we manage our wellbeing – our minds and bodies. To support this shift, more and more startups will continue to appear. We’re in for a ride – expect to become a better person by the end of it. And yes, we can’t overlook the irony that we’re turning to technology to find peace of mind.
I, along with my colleagues at Kaleido Insights, have started a new research stream (a series of publications) in the area of Modern Wellbeing. Technology is impacting yet another massive movement which will cause significant ripples across society, economies, and business models.
Over a decade agoI was analyzing how social technology democratized information, forever changing communications, media, marketing, and even governments. About five years ago, I dove in deep on the Collaborative/Sharing Economy, where yet again, technology empowered humans to take commerce into their own handsThey could get what they needed from peers. Both of these trends continue to also have impact to the economy, society, human interactions and beyond.
Now I see yet another movement – the Modern Wellbeing market, which enables humans to take healthcare, mental care, physical care, directly into their own hands. They are (for better or for worse) self-analyzing their bodies and minds with consumer technologies and relying on each other, and emerging AI systems to self-prescribe ways to help them be healthier, improve their mood, and beyond. We’ve interviewed over 50 startups and larger organizations in this space and see this market shaping up, all across the globe.
Interestingly, a number of industries are starting to take notice. Not just the typical ones you’d expect like healthcare, insurance, and pharma, but also some unlikely ones like:
Airlines are integrating mindfulness apps into entertainment units, and pre-boarding experience,
Auto companies are preparing for autonomous rides, with the ability to shape a mood, or be productive,
Hotels are offering “Welltality” services to help customers calm, relax, or generate energy for the day,
Home developers are building smarter homes with soothing lights, air, and more, controlled via AI,
Offices are adhering to “Well” industry standards to improve employee wellness in environment and collaboration,
HR departments are offering solutions beyond a gym/medical access – they’re offering mindfulness and productivity programs,
Enterprise software companies, are considering how to integrate focus and mindfulness features into productivity tools,
Consumer packaged goods and retailers want to impact how consumers feel and change their lives,
Luxury brands are climbing up Maslow’s pyramid to unlock their brand promise beyond peer acceptance and esteem,
Media companies, gaming, and even social networking companies realize their impact on societal well being,
You’ll see continued written insights from me on this blog about this newest trend that impacts all humans, and society as a whole, as well as on Twitter where I’ll share more up to date market findings. If you have a suggestion of where I should look, please send me a note at jeremiah@ kaleidoinsights.com
The below infographic, which we’ve shared prior, is a great overview of how technology (AI, mixed reality, big data, social, IoT, blockchain and beyond) is and will impact our minds, bodies, communities and physical spaces around us.
Technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives. Now, it’s starting to impact our fitness, mindfulness, how we interact with others, and the physical design of spaces around us. I’ve been very passionate about fitness for the last few years, and am active in CrossFit, Spartan events and more, as a result, I’ve used many a technologies from hardware devices to software apps to track my performance.
We’ve been researching this Modern Wellbeing (modern meaning, technology) for several months, and have helped a few clients on their innovation work in this arena. To best articulate the many changes we see in this market, we put together this visual diagram which illustrates how technology is integrating into our lives.
The hi-res infographic is below, I encourage you to widely share it, pass it on to others, and even print it out as you go on a journey integrating technology with your life. If you want to learn more about our research on this topic, you could register on the Kaleido website.