Workplace wellness is a hot topic right now, and for a good reason. Reports suggest that the corporate wellness market is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. As per Kaiser Family Foundation research, 84% of large employers offering health benefits at the workplace also started offering workplace wellness programs. They were also planning on increasing their investments in employee wellness programs in the near future.
However, it needs the right planning, designing, and implementation of workplace wellness efforts to ensure the expected wellness goals are met, bringing in the anticipated business profits.
But where do you start?
Supported by the Wellness Council of America, Return On Wellbeing Institute’s Workplace Wellness: Best Practices Study 2022 put together a lot of data to investigate the best practices for workplace wellness.
Here are the 6 best practices to consider while designing and implementing employee wellness programs.
- Holistic wellbeing approach
- Prioritizing workplace culture
- Leadership support
- Strategic approach
- Purpose and value
- Measuring ROI and VOI
Senior HR professionals at 18 companies were interviewed to analyze how workplace wellness programs are in line with their efforts with these six best practices. Here are the key outcomes of the study.
Outcome 1 – Holistic wellbeing approach
Many workplace wellness programs emphasized the significance of physical health alone by encouraging physical activities, reducing BMI, and lowering blood pressure. However, it has been found that taking a more comprehensive approach to health and wellness that goes beyond only physical fitness can help achieve better results.
According to the interviews with top workplace wellness programs, most of them provide a holistic approach to health and wellness that addresses the physical, mental, and financial wellbeing of employees.
Although many companies encouraged physical health and wellbeing at the workplace by offering suitable wellness challenges, education programs, and affordable, healthy food options at work, the workers prioritized mental health services. They were looking out for Employee Assistance Programs that offered easy and affordable access to mental health counseling via various modes.
Outcome 2 – Leadership support
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends top executives at the workplace lead their corporate wellness programs. When leaders are committed to a cause, it contributes to a better culture of health, greater acceptance of the program across the organization, and also cultivates a supportive work setting.
More than half of the interviewed professionals said their senior executives readily participated and communicated about workplace wellbeing initiatives. Furthermore, they also emphasized the need to reduce employee stress and encouraged work-life balance to lessen burnout and mental health issues.
Outcome 3 – Prioritizing workplace culture
Many studies have shown that a positive and healthy workplace culture fosters meaningful relationships among the management and co-workers. This is crucial for a healthy working environment and for personal/occupational satisfaction. Creating a positive work culture can go a long way in achieving workplace wellness. This includes implementing policies and practices that foster a sense of inclusion, encourage collaboration, and promote a culture of respect among all employees.
Most participants stated that employee health and wellbeing were foremost to their workplace cultures. Many companies also conducted regular employee pulse surveys to seek feedback on various workplace topics like engagement, work-life balance, leadership support, employee wellness solutions, development, recognition, and more. This reaffirmed that employee wellbeing and culture were core to their company values.
Other best practices for employee engagement include providing career development opportunities, offering flexible work arrangements, encouraging employee participation in decision-making, gym memberships or yoga classes as part of your benefits package, promoting workplace safety and ergonomics, and more.
Creating a safe working environment, fostering collaboration between team members, incentivizing healthy behaviors, and recognizing employee accomplishments are also key components of a successful employee engagement strategy.
Even though most of the companies in the study followed best practices, there were some areas for improvement that employers could adopt to improve employee health and generate business returns for their wellness initiatives.
Strategic Planning and Measuring ROI:
As a general rule of thumb, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that workplace health programs be coordinated, systematic, and comprehensive, including planning strategically. It was found that many organizations do not have any standard plan for their employee wellness programs, and only a few measured employee health outcomes and business returns as a result of their corporate wellbeing programs. In order for wellness programs to be successful, they ought to include documented, formal plans that specify performance expectations for employee wellbeing outcomes as well as business outcomes, which matter the most to the senior management.
Financial Wellness Programs:
Apart from affecting employees’ mental and physical health, financial stress also impacts their ability to perform at work, engagement, and productivity.
While many leading employers seemed to offer above-average pay and benefits, these companies were not systematically ensuring that all workers were paid living wages or designed their workplace benefits packages. Despite the claim to offer above-average pay, all workers were unable to meet their basic financial needs.
72% of employees who said they were stressed about their financial situation believed their employers should conduct wage evaluations to ensure they were able to pay for basic living expenses and save for emergencies.
Workplace Purpose and Value:
A recent study conducted by Aflac found that almost half of Americans believed it was extremely important that companies did whatever they could to “make the world a better place.”
According to a survey conducted by JUST Capital, 89% of Americans believe the COVID-19 pandemic provides large companies with an opportunity to focus on how they treat their employees, customers, communities, and the environment.
In order to help employees live their purpose at work, employers must take steps to ensure that purpose and value is a part of their employee wellness initiatives. Employee engagement and loyalty are bound to increase when employees feel that their personal purpose and that of their employer are aligned. This way, by word-of-mouth marketing, employees are more likely to recommend the company to other people.
In conclusion, strategizing workplace wellness is an important step for any business. By following these six best practices, it can be ensured that the workforce is healthy, safe, and productive. It is crucial to with small changes, be patient with the team, and give enough time to adjust. With consistent effort and dedication, companies can have a workplace wellness strategy that can make a real impact on the team.