The Complete Guide To Employee Health And Wellbeing Strategy

Employees’ health and wellbeing initiatives have always been a crucial offering of most organizations, but of recent have even gained more traction. The pandemic has presented us with a cruel reminder of why having an employee health and wellbeing strategy is essential for any organization. The report of increased stress levels, loneliness, anxiety, and sick days has highlighted more than ever the benefits of having a happy and fit workforce.

Also read: Employee Wellbeing And Absenteeism At Work

Since employees are the backbone of every organization, it is necessary to pay attention to their mental, physical and financial wellbeing. This article will explore the meaning of employee health and wellbeing strategy. We will also highlight steps you can take to develop an employee wellbeing strategy or, if one exists, improve it.

What is Employee Health and Wellbeing Strategy?

Before describing the employee wellbeing strategy, let’s first define what employee wellbeing is. Employee wellbeing refers to the physical, physiological, and financial welfare of employees of an organization. Therefore, an organizational wellbeing strategy is a plan, system, or actions taken to achieve the health and wellbeing of employees. 

The goal is to have a system or culture that helps employees thrive to the best of their ability. A study by SFM shows that 77% of companies have an employee wellbeing program. Another survey by Buffet National Wellness reveals that only 36% of organizations evaluate the effectiveness of employee wellbeing programs. A successful strategy ties the wellbeing program to other organizational strategic objectives-allowing management to measure its effectiveness.

What Areas Should Employee Health and Wellbeing Strategy Address?

When most people hear about employee wellbeing programs, they think of the psychological health aspect alone. But it also comprises the financial and physical. It is the holistic view of all three combined. And while you may lean towards one more than the others, it’s best to have elements of all when preparing an organizational wellbeing strategy.

Physical Wellbeing

Physical wellbeing is all about encouraging your employees to take their physical health seriously. A study published in ACOEM and led by Nicolaas P. Pronk shows that physically fit employees are more likely to engage more in the workplace. They are also more productive. Physical wellbeing aims to help employees stay fit through exercising and eating healthy. It is trying to help employees build healthy physical habits.

They are various ways organizations promote these habits, and some are:

  • Offering a discount on a gym membership
  • Free healthy snacks
  • Healthy Cooking Classes
  • Massage Therapist 
  • Fitness resources and workout videos, etc.

These are some examples of physical employee wellbeing activities in an organization. Some employers also provide health information like taking walks every thirty minutes, sitting positions to help with posture and back pains, or even specialized tables and chairs to help you practice these healthy work habits.

One aspect that seems not to pop up as often is the importance of rest and sleep. A study by AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) shows workers who report sleeping 5-6 hours experienced 19% productivity loss, and those who slept under 5 hours were 29% less productive. Adequate rest is as essential as exercise and nutrition when thinking about the wellbeing of your employees.

Also read: 7 Ways To Curb Workplace Negativity

Mental Wellbeing

Mental wellbeing is the one that has attracted the most attention in recent times because of the pandemic. It covers the state of the employee’s mind. Issues like a sense of meaning in what they do in the workplace, personal accomplishments, and working relationships factor into the employee’s mental wellbeing.

Some ways organizations have helped tackle this is by offering.

  • Flexible Working days
  • Offering mandatory mental health training for managers
  • Offering courses on mental health
  • Reviewing and managing the workload of employees
  • Providing the tools necessary to deliver on their assignments
  • Meditation classes
  • Non-monetary rewards
  • Access to a psychologist

A study by the World Health Organisation shows that the global economy loses up to 1 trillion dollars because of depression and anxiety. The figure shows just how important the mental health of employees is.

An essential aspect of mental wellbeing is its social aspect. How employees interact with their coworkers and bosses in the workplace is crucial. As well as their social support system outside the workplace, like friends and family members. A positive relationship can help them bring about a decent level of stability.

Financial Wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is crucial because one primary reason people work is to earn money. It covers the present upkeep of the employees, retirement plans, job security, and debt management.

One thing we saw during the pandemic was layoffs, something that threatened the financial wellbeing of many people. Another was cuts or removal of certain perks. 

So what are some ways in which employers have tried to support their employees?

  • Complimentary perks like; free movie tickets or coffee.
  • Discounts on meals in certain restaurants or holiday destinations.
  • Cashback schemes.
  • Vouchers at certain grocery stores.
  • Insurance and pension packages
  • Payment schemes for smartphones and laptops

Now that we have gone through the three primary aspects of health and wellbeing. Let’s look at why companies need to take them seriously.

Why is Employee Health and Wellbeing Strategy Important to Companies?

Every organization wants assurance about their investments or at least proof that the investment is worthwhile. Most companies that have not taken the wellbeing strategy in the workplace seriously argue that it isn’t necessary. This assumption couldn’t be more inaccurate. A well-executed employee wellbeing strategy has its advantages, some of which we will highlight in this section.

Improves Productivity

A well-executed wellbeing strategy can lead to improved productivity. A 2017 GSK study that surveyed workers in China, India and the Philippians revealed 60% of them said they experienced head pain relating to their jobs, leading to loss of productivity. Health and wellness programs improve employee engagement, which in turn improves employee productivity. 

Also read: The Impact Of Employee Engagement On Productivity

Helps to Reduce Costs

A company with an ineffective employee health and wellness program is a company that will react to health-related problems. The disadvantage of reacting rather than being proactive to situations is that the company pays for them. And we mean literally, it will cost you more to treat a problem than to prevent it.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, employers on average can save $3.48 on lower health care and $5.82 on absenteeism costs for every $1 spent on employee wellbeing. 

Helps to Reduce Stress Levels

Stress is a problem every organization seeks to minimize. A CDC study revealed that 40% of workers are extremely stressed and 25% of them experience burnout often. Stress levels can be regulated and maintained with the proper wellness plan in place. 

Attracts Talents 

According to a 2019 survey by safety and health magazine, 87 percent of workers between 18-34 consider employee health and wellbeing when choosing a Job. This is proof that talents today are watching out for companies that take good care of their employees. Another study by APA showed employees are also more likely to recommend a company as a good place to work if they support wellbeing initiatives. These studies prove that an excellent program will attract the best talents.

Improves Employee Retention

Fatigue and burnout are two deep concerns for organizations. A study by the American Psychological Association shows that employees are 2.6 times more likely to quit their jobs due to fatigue. The same report also revealed that people are 23% more likely to visit an emergency room and 69% more likely to call in sick. 

All the above points are viable reasons you should start an employee health and wellbeing program and if one already exists, work on it to get better.

Also read: Employee Retention Strategy: How To Retain Top Talent?

Key Points to Consider for a Successful Employee Health and Wellbeing Strategy

When it comes to implementing the right organizational wellbeing strategy, it isn’t a one-fit-all approach. Each organization has their own peculiar need, and therefore it requires a lot of customization from the HR team. This section will highlight some tips to remember when setting up an employee wellbeing initiative.

Know Your Employees

The first thing to remember is you cannot set up an employee wellbeing program when you do not know their pain point. It’s easy to be swept away by what other companies are introducing, but remember that each organization has its own tailored needs. The first thing you need to do is take a kind of census. It can be a quick survey highlighting the pressing needs of the employees. The essential thing to note is to involve them in the development process.

Link Wellbeing Strategy to Company Objectives

One way to make sure your health and wellbeing strategy goes well is to tie the goals to business objectives. Doing this ensures that you are clear on the goals of the employee wellbeing program. An example is setting a goal of reducing absenteeism by 5% within the next two years. 

Setting an obvious goal ensures that the company can keep track. Another goal that can complement this is to improve revenue by 5% in the same period. Setting these goals allows you to measure the effectiveness of the health and wellbeing initiative.

Also read: 3 Factors To Remember While Setting Employee Goals

Get Leadership Support

For any strategy to succeed, it must come from top management. As the HR team involves employees, it’s also important to involve senior management. A study by APA shows that 73% of employees supported by their top management said their wellbeing initiative program was effective. Only 11% of employees not backed by senior management agreed the health and wellbeing initiative was effective. 

Communicate The Initiative Frequently

One vital aspect of implementing any strategy is communicating effectively. Part of your strategy will be an engaging way to launch the program. How would you pitch the idea to the employees? 

Ideally, there shouldn’t be a problem since they were involved, but there is nothing wrong with reminding them of the issues the wellbeing program solves. It is also best to have weekly, bi-weekly or monthly reminders on the wellness programs employees have access to so they make use of them. It’s also essential to introduce new employees to the various perks to stay informed.

Take Regular Feedback

No strategy is perfect, so you need feedback from those using the program. Employee feedback is key in improving and adapting the health and wellbeing strategy for the organisation. It also keeps employees engaged with the program. Companies can carry out feedback quarterly, bi-annually, or annually to get a feel of its effect.

Continue Improving the Process

Collecting feedback is only one of the two-step processes. Implementing and putting the feedback into effect is the other side of the process.

A bonus tip here is when starting, begin with a few initiatives. Monitor and improve them, and when ingrained into the company system, add another wellbeing activity to it. For example, if your company starts a subsidised gym membership, don’t start with a mental health first training session at the same time. 

It’s best to have other wellbeing activities that complement the subsidized gym membership, like nutrition classes. This way, you can measure their effectiveness since they aim to achieve the same goal – employees in better physical shape.

In conclusion, creating a successful employee health and wellbeing strategy isn’t a walk in the pack. It involves research on the needs of the organization and the employees, and trial and error. What will make the process a success is it involves everyone, from the employees to top management. 

Learn how Engagedly can help you with employee health and wellbeing by requesting us for a demo.

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Employee Mental Health : Ways To Support Your Team

Managers often tend to ignore and sideline mental health issues while discussing workplace problems. While managers commonly talk about other issues such as work-life balance, workplace bias, bullying, etc., mental health is one topic that gets completely ignored in most organizations. 

Did you know that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace?

The above numbers have in fact increased over the past year due to the pandemic. Continuous remote working has taken a toll on the mental health of employees. Reports of anxiety, depression, isolation, stress, and fatigue have increased. It has resulted in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, disengagement, and burnout.

Also Read: Employee Wellbeing And Absenteeism At Work

It is high time organizations recognize the importance of mental health issues and help build a conducive and supportive environment for employees.

Here are some ways in which organizations can help.

Spread Awareness About Mental Health

The first step to solving any problem always begins with awareness. This could be through the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. held by certified mental health professionals. They can help spread awareness about mental health and de-stigmatize the problem.

Spread awareness about common mental health problems like depression, anxiety, social phobia, etc. Encourage your employees to come forward and open up about their mental issues, so that you can help them overcome their issues.

Don’t Treat It As A Taboo

Why do some employees struggle with having good mental health? There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is not opening up about it to anyone. Many people shy away from expressing the mental issues that they are battling daily.

Create a culture that encourages employees to open up about it.

Also Read: The Impact of Employee Engagement On Productivity

Identify Changes In Your Employees’ Behaviour

Not all employees who have mental issues can come forward and talk about their problems. Sometimes, as a manager, you need to go the extra mile and look for changes in the behavior of your team members.

Common symptoms that you can look for are irritability, depression, withdrawal from contact with others, loss of motivation, mood swings, etc. If you find someone from your team displaying these behaviors, it is time for you to have a conversation about their mental health issues.

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Connect With Your Employees

Once you realize that a team member has changed their behavior or is exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, it is best to have a conversation about it. Do not make assumptions before having the conversation; remember that your impression can be wrong too.

Connect with them over informal or formal sessions and talk with them and give them support. Ask them simple questions and encourage them to share what triggers their problem more. Also, give them frequent feedback on how they work and they can improve. It will keep them engaged and busy at work.

Sometimes, people battling mental health issues just want someone to hear out what they have to say, so listen to them without judging or giving out opinions instantly.

Supportive Work Culture

A supportive work environment practices healthy communication and does not engage in toxic or harmful behavior. It shouldn’t make employees feel stressed. A distinction has to be made between job-related stressors and environmental stressors. Stress is a part and parcel of any job, and employees understand that on certain occasions, they might experience stressful situations. However, when these stressful situations frequently affect their ability to do their job or impact their ability to function, that is when it becomes a problem. Consequently, organizations need to be observant of the environment in which their employees work. 

Also Read: 7 Signs To Help You Recognize A Toxic Workplace

Creating a healthy workplace environment might necessitate organizations completely overhauling their workplace policies to be more inclusive. While this task might seem painful, it will go a long way toward creating a workplace that employees want to be a part of.

Design Policies Around Mental Health

Oftentimes, organizations have health policies but they might be cursory health policies or focus more on physical health. One way organizations can be more inclusive and supportive is to revamp their policies. It should cover all aspects of health and wellness. This includes creating provisions for employees with disabilities or employees with mental health problems. Also, adding or offering resources (through the employee assistance programs) that they can use to seek help. It is also important that employees be aware of these policies and use them when they need it. Having a good policy but not being able to use it renders the policy useless. It also prevents employees from seeking the health and care they need.

Leadership Support 

Employee wellness initiatives cannot move forward or even function successfully if they do not have the enthusiastic support of leaders and managers at an organization. It will not only lend more weight to mental health initiatives but will reassure employees that their well-being is important to organizations.

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