Wellness is a modern HR’s watchword. Having been on the business priorities radar for a lot of years, it has recently landed at the very heart of corporations’ cultures, since more evidence supported wellness programmes’ positive impact on employee engagement and business performance.
An employee wellness programme is a workplace policy designed to maintain and promote the employees’ health and overall wellbeing. The initiatives could vary from encouraging healthy eating habits to remote work flexibility – the options are plenty. Having a wellness programme is getting extremely important in terms of overall employee experience and HR’s Employee Value Proposition. It also has a crucial strategic value for the employer, given an array of operational benefits it brings (more motivation and productivity, less absenteeism and office stress).
According to a Grand View Research Inc. report, the global corporate wellness market size was USD 53.6 billion in 2018 and is forecast to reach USD 90.7 billion by 2026, with fitness and nutrition and stress management segments showing the fastest growth over the next few years. For examples, in the UK, almost half of the companies now have a “defined wellbeing strategy”, as stated by the Rewards and Employee Benefits Association. The topic remains on the frontline: big bodies such as governmental Public Health England promote the wellbeing initiatives for a wider UK workforce. The idea is based on many factors, not the least of which being a high price-tag of workplace illness.
As rightly said in the Rewards and Employee Benefits Association report, “when it comes to wellbeing, there’s always going to be a discussion around cost. However rather than asking, “Can we afford to implement a strategy to look after employee wellbeing?” the real question should be, can you afford not to?”.
Efficient employee wellness programmes: which to choose and what to consider
It’s fundamental to do a proper analysis of the dynamics and the make-up of your company’s workforce before designing a corporate wellness programme. You need to understand the concrete health and wellbeing challenges your staff is facing – perhaps it’s all about high levels of stress, or reduced sleeping time, or general anxiety and mental health concerns. So, the thing to be done first is a complete data evaluation with the following pinpointing of “weakness” areas. Once you get the exhaustive picture, start building a tailored wellness programme with quantifiable tracked goals. It is of great help to assure a buy-in from the top of the hierarchy: involving high-level executives in wellness initiatives would set an example and promote an open talk about mental and physical health matters.
Which wellness programmes can you choose from and how to implement them? Here are just some of the many options:
- Promoting fitness activities:
People work in an office 40 or even more hours per week and need some sports time. Stimulate your staff to add at least a bit of exercising in their daily routine. Create a moving culture and promote walk-to-work or cycle schemes, organize office yoga or shiatsu sessions, support lunchtime running clubs, reimburse your employees’ gym subscriptions or give them the fitness bands to track the physical activity and reward the most sporty ones (add some gamification elements).
- Ensuring access to healthy food:
Unfortunately, a fast-food lunch or a sweet snack is often the first choice of busy employees. Help them with adopting healthy eating habits: check if your canteen and vending machines have “clean” eating options. Be sure your office has enough fridges so that the staff can bring fresh food from home, provide fresh fruits as a snack option. If your employees go to local cafes, try to sign corporate discount agreements with the ones providing the healthiest menus.
- Introducing mental health tools:
Stress from work is a widespread symptom that negatively affects retention rates. Help your employees recognize and root out the stress they are confronting. Consider inviting your staff to internal stress management workshops. Another solution – activities like group meditation and massages: boost your company’s mindfulness. If you have a big office, create a couple of nap rooms. Some psychological coaching can be useful for the workers that have an extra-high pressure.
- Caring for your staff’s financial wellbeing:
Financial wellness has a strong impact on human psychology. Give a hand to your employees by opening an access to a range of benefits, such as discounts and freebies. One of the interesting approaches is hiring an employee financial advisor: helping your staff to be in full control of their finances is a great way of demonstrating how much your company cares for their overall wellness.
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