In case you have not heard, there is a talent war going on. Companies are competing for new employees who are seeking more work and life balance, while struggling to retain the ones they already have employed. To have a greater competitive edge in recruitment, retention, and engagement strategies, many organizations are starting to build wellness programs that support a healthier, happier workplace culture.
Gone, too, are the days of simple weight loss challenges and occasional onsite yoga classes. To be effective and attractive, businesses must dig deeper with their employee wellness programs, going beyond the usual offerings to embrace a more meaningful and sustainable culture shift. In looking at what works and what does not, here are six of the most effective wellness program strategies that employee-centric organizations are implementing.
1. Make Wellness a Priority
To positively impact employee health, well-being, and engagement, your wellness program needs complete buy-in from your executive and management team. Your leadership needs to understand the significant impact of employee wellness.
Yes, there are clear bottom-line benefits to having healthy employees including reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and lower healthcare costs. But not just that, the benefits extend to employee recruitment, retention, and engagement. A carefully planned, smoothly run wellness program can be a significant differentiator for your organization, a powerful recruiting tool, and a reason for employees to stick around.
2. Have a Plan and a Budget
Clearly define what you want your wellness program to accomplish. Are you looking to boost employee morale? Decrease sick day usage? Build healthy lifestyle habits? Lower healthcare costs? Prevent chronic conditions? Make your goals as specific as possible so you know how to measure success and give them a timeframe.
You will also want to establish a clear budget for your wellness program, including any incentives you’ll be offering, merchandise or marketing materials you’ll be distributing, events you’ll be hosting, and technology you’ll be using.
3. Choose Your Offerings
With your goals clearly defined and your budget in place, you’ll now want to set about designing your program — including all its components. Those components should support your overall objectives and the wants, needs, and preferences of your employees. If they do not enjoy participating in the program, chances are they will not (or at least, not enthusiastically).
Consider the types of offerings you want your program to include. Options for reducing stress include mindfulness meditation, sleep improvement, and massage therapy. Activities that encourage employees to get moving and exercise. You may want to ask yourself some other questions: Do you want to help employees focus more on self-care? Are you looking to address and prevent specific health risks like high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease? Do you want your wellness program to have a nutrition component?
There are many resources available for ideas and help in designing a wellness program that’s right for your employees and goals. Your employees can be a major source of inspiration and asking for their input may encourage them to be more active participants.
4. Recognize and Reward Progress
The success of your wellness program relies on the level of engagement from the employees it is designed for. Offering rewards and incentives for incremental progress can effectively get employees excited and onboard.
More than prizes for “winners” give employees credit for reaching smaller goals as well as participating in activities and events throughout the program. That credit could be something as simple as reward points, they can earn and exchange for goodies, gift certificates, cash, or an extra day off work. Rewarding employees helps them recognize and celebrate their progress, which keeps them motivated.
5. Do Not Forget Mental Health
While many employee wellness programs focus on physical health (exercise, nutrition, health risks), employee mental health deserves equal attention — especially now. According to the World Health Organization, workplace stress is one of the leading causes of employee burnout and disengagement. The American Institute of Stress estimates that around 1 million U.S. employees miss work every day because of stress. Over 40% of workers quit their jobs due to stress levels — at the cost of $300 billion to companies.
Improving employee mental health is good for your people and your profits. Consider connecting your employees to mental health resources and information, including apps and virtual therapy, as part of your wellness program.
Along with these resources, make sure you create a culture that allows employees to have a healthier relationship with their work. Let them know they are not expected to be on call 24/7 and that work emails and calls can go unanswered after hours until the next business day. Encourage them to explore interests and hobbies outside of their jobs and enjoy them with the people they love. And then, most importantly, lead by example in your own life.
6. Use the Right Tools
Your employees use technology in all areas of their lives — at and outside of work. This means they will be likely to embrace digital tools as part of your employee wellness program. Wellness apps, fitness and health trackers, gratifying devices — can all have a place in your wellness program and help keep employees more engaged in participating.
Technology that makes health insurance easier for employees can also have a place in your program. Take SureCo's Enrollment Platform that allows employees to compare every health plan option available quickly and conveniently and find one best fits their individual/family needs. No complicated or frustrating enrollment process.
SureCo's Platform also connects employees to a wealth of information about their health, giving them more insight and control. Armed with this data, employees can better manage their health and reduce healthcare costs. Employees feel more empowered in their healthcare journey, which encourages them to be more engaged. And that is good for everyone — employee and employer alike.
Talk to us to learn how SureCo's Enrollment Platform can improve the overall wellness experience for your employees.