Many of today’s workers feel that their jobs are detrimental to their health – a sentiment that employers are eager to reverse with the help of corporate wellbeing programs and work/life benefits.
Employees and job candidates alike rank health and wellbeing programs at the top of their list of employer-sponsored benefits. Millennials, in particular, cite that a “culture of health” is essential to the work environment. With both employers and employees seemingly on board, it’s puzzling that participation in many wellbeing programs plateaus shortly after launch.
Perhaps not all health and wellbeing programs are equally valuable or sustainable. Survey data suggests that a significant number of employees report being underwhelmed with wellness program offerings. According to the National Business Group on Health, a third of employees think their company’s wellbeing programs aren’t relevant to their most pressing health needs.
In order to reenergize employees around wellbeing programs and build a long-term culture of health, consider the following practices that successful employers use to enhance both relevance and sustainability.
Don’t presume to know what employees need, find out! Review the data and survey employees. Not only evaluate employees’ wellbeing priorities – physical, social, financial, community and career – but also explore what motivates them and what tools and support they need to turn healthy behaviors into healthy habits.
In addition to relevant programming and rewards, tailor wellbeing messages so they are personally meaningful to employees. Employees also connect well with success stories about their colleagues; recognizing employees for their wellbeing efforts demonstrates that the organization cares and encourages others to follow suit.
One key to achieving and sustaining long-term wellbeing results is creating a supportive work environment where the healthy choices are the easy choices. Employees need to be able to refuel – physically, mentally and socially – throughout the workday, as well as when they are off the clock. Employers can design their space, provide access to food and activities, and promote practices in ways that simplify good health.
Another fundamental element of sustainability is to have enough boots (or tennis shoes) on the ground to support wellness program efforts. Create wellbeing champions across the company. These are employees who are eager to serve as ambassadors for the program. Wellbeing champions can motivate and energize employees by localizing wellbeing programs and messages and asking their coworkers to commit to impact their workplace long term. Also, empower and train managers to be self-leaders in their own wellbeing and to encourage wellbeing in a way that is genuine and aligns with your organization’s values.
Employers know there is a positive effect when employees are fully engaged and have high wellbeing. Employees also want to do and feel their best. At the end of the day, who doesn’t want to feel good about their company, their contributions and themselves? With a few simple tweaks, employer-sponsored wellness programs can deliver the excitement employees crave and enhance wellbeing in a way they need and deserve. Employers who truly commit to a culture of enhancing the wellbeing of their employee population can expect positive business outcomes, such as improved productivity, retention and presenteeism, as well as lower absenteeism.