The pandemic has changed employer perspectives about employee wellbeing and working policies. The impact of employee health and wellbeing on workplace productivity and business growth has been evident. So, employers are all set to revisit their workplace benefits programs, especially their employee wellbeing programs.
In our previous blog, we revealed a brief of an American Psychological Association survey, according to which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected employee physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. These stressors can impact employee health and wellbeing in a way more severe than the physical threat of the pandemic.
Since so many changes have happened since the pandemic, the same old workplace benefits programs and perks may not be apt or adequate to meet the current requirements of the employees. A 2020 MMB Health Trends by Mercer suggested that employers must start considering new return-to-workplace strategies. Also, employers were asked to ‘think outside the box’ to implement new employee wellbeing programs that are in line with the latest corporate wellness trends.
Employee Health and Healthcare Costs – An Immediate Cause of Attention
Healthcare costs are skyrocketing over the past decade. Many studies show that healthcare costs can increase by 4.1% in 2021. Apart from increasing healthcare costs, poor employee wellbeing can also reduce workplace productivity and increase absenteeism rates. If employers do not take the right steps now, they may have to face the wrath of the rising costs.
According to a KFF Health Tracking Poll, the pandemic has affected employee mental health, and the anxiety and depression disorders have quadrupled since the pandemic started. As employers are feeling the need to support their workforce through their tough times, experts suggest offering mental wellness programs as a part of employee wellbeing programs.
In addition to mental wellbeing, physical health has also been affected during the pandemic. According to the APA survey, almost 60% of the respondents said they had an undesirable weight change during the pandemic. Being overweight can cause many chronic health conditions like obesity, heart disease, Type-II diabetes, and some cancers. CDC reports suggest that lost productivity and absenteeism due to chronic health diseases cost employers almost $36.4 billion annually. Also, studies show that employers can save almost $730 billion annually towards healthcare costs by helping employees adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
Cultivating Healthy Lifestyle Habits is the Key to Better Health and Wellness
An NCBI study shows that 60% of a person’s wellbeing and quality of life depends on the kind of lifestyle they lead, and 40% of their premature death possibilities are related to their behavioral patterns. The past few months have confirmed the strong association between lifestyle habits and the mental/physical wellbeing of individuals. And so, employers must focus on holistic wellness programs that help in cultivating healthy lifestyle habits.
Here are some tips to consider while implementing employee wellbeing programs that focus on cultivating healthy lifestyle habits for long-term holistic health –
Personalized Corporate Wellness Programs
As employee health and wellbeing have become a top priority now, the corporate wellness market is booming with many wellness program providers. However, choosing the right corporate wellness programs is the key to success. A good workplace wellness program is one that allows customization of its features and modules to accommodate and meet the specific employee health and wellbeing needs. Factors like company budget, workplace culture, working policies, employee health status, assessments, screenings, and wellbeing requirements must be considered while customizing the wellness program modules. When the best-suited features and modules are offered to the employees, it will boost employee engagement and help in cultivating healthy lifestyle habits for long-term holistic health and better quality of life.
Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
Studies show that almost 75% – 80% of the health disorders are caused due to the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Most of the SDOH are non-medical factors like social networks, finance, employment, relationships, education, etc. Until late, SDOH was not even considered as a parameter while planning workplace wellness programs or employer-sponsored insurance plans. However, with employee wellbeing trends evolving, SDOH has become a serious consideration at most workplaces. Employers can conduct polls or anonymous employee pulse surveys to identify potential health risks and wellbeing concerns. This information can be used to plan the right modules to build holistic employee wellbeing programs addressing specific health and wellness needs, including social determinants.
Ensuring High Employee Engagement Strategies
For employee wellbeing programs to be successful, it is crucial to have high employee engagement. Most conventional corporate wellness programs start on a high note, but soon the employee engagement reduces. It can either be because of the monotonous wellbeing activities or because the employees are not seeing the anticipated outcomes and eventually lose motivation. Employers must implement employee engagement strategies to ensure maximum participation. It can include fun activities, holistic wellness challenges, online interventions, rewards and incentives, gamification approaches, and other ways to keep the employees motivated through their wellbeing journey.
Even before the pandemic started, employee wellbeing programs were an integral part of the workplace strategies of many organizations. Be it to reduce healthcare costs or to reduce the productivity loss due to absenteeism or presenteeism, employee wellbeing has become a fundamental element for employers to grow their business and for employees while choosing their employers. As the pandemic has intensified the need to prioritize employee wellbeing, the holistic wellness programs must incorporate tools and support all factors that influence employee health and wellbeing, including their lifestyle habits, to lead a healthy and better quality of life.