Building an Effective Employee Wellness Program
It’s not surprising that company wellness programs are on the rise. Designing and managing an employee wellness program is an essential step in improving the health and productivity of employees.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at employee wellness programs, their importance, and key characteristics. Before we can begin, we will briefly discuss its history in the business.
Work used to be an unforgiving burden for workers in pre-industrial and industrial societies. The only thing that truly mattered was physical exertion and your ability to carry out the tasks required. Many scientists and social scientists began to assert the importance of employees’ mental health in the post-war world.
It was felt that productivity has components other than just the purely physical and that investing in those would increase productivity beyond what was thought possible at the time.During this period, the infamous hierarchy of needs was developed by Maslow, confirming that individuals were more than just their work.
It also highlighted that workplaces could increase productivity and revenue by treating employees as more than just workers.This resulted in the inception of what is now referred to as business psychology. Human resources departments were transformed, with a strategic importance that they had not had previously.
Today, students across the world are intimately familiar with the importance of business psychology. Millions of college students across the world learn the key principles of motivation and employee welfare.
Employee wellness programs are the norm, as many suchbusinesses want to focus on them. Let’s take a look at what employee wellness programs are, why they are important and how to build an effective employee wellness program.
What is an Employee Wellness Program?
The world of business is not what it used to be just a few decades ago. Several factors have contributed to the increasing levels of stress that modern employees must navigate. One of these is the immense level of competition brought on by globalization.
The second is the fast-paced nature of most workplaces, where each action is closely scrutinized, and the margins for success and failure are infinitesimal. Add to that the fact that society itself has become a very difficult and confusing place to navigate.
The pressure that most of us face, especially at our workplaces,is unrelenting at times. Furthermore, most of us do not have the personal resources to tackle these issues alone. This is why employee wellness programs exist.
The objective of an employee wellness program is to monitor an employee’s emotional, physical, and mental health and offer supportive activities. This is accomplished via proactive monitoring and constant facilitation. Stress is one of the leading causes of absenteeism which costs industries in the U.S. $300 billion each year.
Importance of Employee Wellness Programs
Employee wellness programs exist to protect a company’s most valuable asset – the employee. We’ve already discussed how workers today face more stress than ever before, which kind of makes the importance of such programs obvious.
The goal of business is to earn high enough revenues to make a profit. Successful businesses aim to maximize this profit.Employees are crucial to achieving this goal. As such, employees must be operating at their full potential.
Your HR department could be the strongest in the world regarding recruitment, but if it doesn’t follow it up with a strong wellness program, you’ll find that the benefits are marginal. This is because even the most talented individuals need a platform for success.
A wellness program takes care of employees’ mental and emotional health by minimizing the stressors present in the workplace. We’ve all heard horror stories from friends and family about toxic workplaces; perhaps you’ve even been a part of one. The idea is that a wellness program negates the toxicity from a workplace and creates a culture of positivity.
For the individual, the benefits are clear: access to resources that help deal with stress, feeling cared for and looked after, and higher engagement with the work, leading to greater success.
The benefits are also clear for the business: lower turnover and higher retention, more motivated employees, which inevitably results in more successful business outcomes. A good wellness program also enhances a company’s reputation and increases its ability to attract top talent.
Effective Employee Wellness Programs
What distinguishes an effective employee wellness programfrom an unsuccessful one? In our view, 5 characteristics need to be present. They are as follows:
It is important to begin with a shared understanding of what wellness means for everyone. Obviously, businesses have their own goals, and employees have their own goals. A wellness program aims to facilitate the individual so that the business’s and employee’s goals can both be advanced.
This is can only happen when there is a mutually agreed-upon definition of what wellness means for everyone. This means that first, there needs to be a broad definition that captures the program’s vision. This grand vision should dictate each policy decision, not just about the wellness program but also more generally.
The second step is to answer the specifics. What sorts of actions are needed to maximize employee wellness? The answers may range from more personal time off, reduced communication during off-hours, on-site gym facilities, building a daycare center, lunch allowance. Now it is the decision maker’s job to determine the value of each suggestion.
For instance, if only two employees out of 500 need the daycare facility, it may be more prudent to give them an allowance rather than building a center. The return on investment is a key consideration obviously, even when dealing with employee wellness.
If either the business or the employees operate under assumptions, then there may be more disappointment than benefit. The goal and the methodology for achieving it should be clear for both parties. If there is a disagreement later, the point of building an employee wellness program may be lost.
We truly live in an age where anything we desire can be mass-produced cost-effectively. The same principle applies to employee wellness. Several services offer businesses pre-made wellness programs that can be purchased without thinking about it for another second.
While this approach can work, we believe that a more personalized method would be more successful. Remember that an important aspect of giving care is that it can never be robotic.The problem with off-the-counter wellness programs is that they feel artificial as if the business knows it’s expected by the modern employee and just did the bare minimum to meet those expectations.
We’ve spoken about arriving at shared definitions. This applies to the methodology as well. True, it will be more cost-effective to recruit a service that can offer everything you need. Yet, you should conduct your own research to determine what exactly is required by your employees.
For instance, discuss the various downsides of working in your organization with the people who go through it every day. The answers will reveal the problems affecting your employees that are specific to your workplace. Then you can see which of these can be addressed through off-the-counter programs.
There is very little point in having yoga programs and wellness clinics if those are not required. Your employees may want something completely different, and if they do, the aim of the wellness program will remain unfulfilled.
Hence, the methodology must be shaped by open conversations with all employees and providing solutions to them within the available resources.
Building an employee wellness program means being open and flexible to the dynamic needs of the modern worker. It is not enough that a program exists; it needs to be routinely updated to stay relevant. The world of business and the society that it operates do not exist in a vacuum, so you must keep an eye on the evolving needs of the worker.
The pandemic provides us with an excellent example of why flexibility is important. Many companies had wellness programs in place, but with workers suddenly unable to come to the workplace, it is obvious that the programs needed to be altered.
Individuals also need diversity when it comes to experience.What’s working today may not work tomorrow, so your wellness program needs to be built in a way that it can respond to changing needs and tastes as the situation changes.
As such, preliminary discussions are just the tip of the iceberg.The question of employee wellness needs to be one that you come back to routinely. Conversations around mental and emotional wellness need to be a regular feature of the workweek so that the program can reflect the ever-evolving needs of your employees.
A wellness program that is being run by anyone who has the time is bound to fail. Just like any other department, there needs to be an employee dedicated to running the program and ensuring its success. If it is treated like an individual’s pet project, the results will obviously suffer.
Building an employee wellness program involves having a team of individuals responsible for achieving its aims. This team also acts as the point of reference for any issues about the program. If no one in particular is managing it, people may not know who to take suggestions or criticisms to.
This can be especially worrying if it’s managed by someone high up the hierarchy, as people may not want to report problems with the program to them.
Openness and Honesty
This characteristic has foundational importance to any good employee wellness program. If people are afraid to participate in the discussion, then the program will not consider their opinions and attitudes.
If you truly want to have all views considered and catered to, then you have to ensure that all employees feel like they can voice their opinions. This may mean sometimes encouraging them to share their needs when they seem to be fine with everything.
Wisdom is in knowing that improvements can always be made.
Building an employee wellness program is currently quite popular, yet many businesses fail at building an effective one.
If you looking for more insights into improving your organization, or perhaps you just want a consultation on improving your employees’ wellness, feel free to reach out to usfor the solution to your problems.