The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way employees and employers think about health and wellbeing. While employees prioritize their wellbeing for personal reasons, employers emphasize the holistic wellbeing of the workforce to enhance productivity and reduce healthcare costs.
Although employee wellness programs have become the go-to solution to improve workforce wellbeing and engagement, there are a couple of other aspects to be considered for the same. Here are 10 simple steps for employers to follow to improve employee wellbeing, and build a healthy and productive workplace.
1. Promote Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
Employee assistance programs are workplace initiatives that help workers manage and cope with various pressures. An effective Employee Assistance Program ensures proper workplace engagement and performance at the workplace. For the program to be successful, the entire workforce must be aware of the different services and their benefits. Employers and program administrators can create communication campaigns to promote their EAP and support employee wellbeing.
2. Improve Communication
Communication is vital for workplace wellness. The best way to ensure strong teamwork and employee engagement is by keeping them connected. Remote working has reduced in-person interactions, causing a lack of communication and increased differences. Employers can schedule one-on-one or team meetings, either virtually or in-person, or provide access to communication channels to improve employee-employer and employee-employee inter-relations. Employers must look for signs of burnout or stress, and provide them with the needed resources. Most importantly, the message that employees are important to the company must be clearly communicated to the entire workforce.
3. Promote Positivity
Positive thinking stimulates the brain, keeps you alert, and increases energy levels. Also, positive behavior and mindset create a healthy workplace culture that supports employees beyond social discrimination and other marginalization factors. Also, a healthy and positive workplace culture builds stronger and more productive teams. Employers can promote positivity in the workplace by encouraging employees to work together well. Improving communication, encouraging appreciation for each other, and working together while having a little fun can go a long way in adding a little positivity to the organization.
4. Encourage Vacations and Offer Paid-Leaves
Employee work-life balance is a key aspect of healthy workplace culture and environment. It prevents burnout, reduces stress, and helps the workforce focus on their work better. Also, taking time away from work, either with family, friends, or by themselves, give employees enough time to relax from the stressful work environment, thus reducing stress. Employers can encourage paid leaves for vacations or team trips to let employees take a break from work, and rejuvenate while getting back to work.
5. Encourage Self-Care
Like work-life balance, self-care is vital for mental wellbeing. Most times, employees are so busy hustling between work and other responsibilities that they hardly have time for themselves. While such stress and hectic schedules can impact their physical and mental health, it also affects their confidence and morale. Studies show that employees with poor morale are less self-confident, reflecting poor performance and productivity. And so, employers must focus on encouraging self-care to ensure the workforce feels good and confident about themselves. Offering wellness challenges that promote healthy lifestyles, spa appointments, gym memberships, etc, can be great ways to encourage self-care.
6. Offer Better Sleep Programs
Sleep is as important as exercise and eating healthy for good health and wellness. However, it is often ignored as a vital wellbeing parameter. Unless employees get their 8 hours of good night’s sleep, they may lose focus at work, leading to poor productivity. Also, lack of sleep causes accidents and injuries. According to the National Sleep Foundation, millions of employees were suffering from sleep disorders and insomnia even before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has only brought with it an array of new challenges adding to the stress and sleep disorders. The best way to combat sleep-related stress and concerns is by following healthy sleep habits. Employers can implement ‘Better Sleep’ wellness challenges that can help employees regulate their circadian rhythm, promote aromatherapy, and encourage meditation to improve sleep cycles. Most importantly, they must offer resources that can create awareness about the importance of sleep.
7. Appreciate and Recognize
Most times, employees spend the majority of their wake time at the workplace, leaving little time for their personal lives. While it is their job, the stressful life can take a toll on their mental health. A little token of appreciation, recognition, and gratitude can go the extra mile in making employees feel good about their efforts. Recognizing and appreciating their efforts and achievements with simple rewards or incentives will make them feel valued by the organization, boosting their confidence. Such employees are bound to be more loyal and engaged at their work, thus improving productivity and reducing turnover rates.
8. Offer Financial Wellness Resources
The pandemic has made everyone realize the importance of financial security. Studies show that many employees expected their employers to provide financial wellness resources to help them cope with the sudden crises and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. And so, financial wellness programs have been trending since 2021, and have become an essential element of employee benefits programs or EAPs. Employers can set up financial consultations with experts to help employees plan their budget or make better investments for a secured retirement or emergency funds. They can also offer the required tools, calculators, and resources to educate them about financial wellbeing.
9. Stay at home if feeling sick
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything important, it is about maintaining good hygiene and staying back at home if someone is feeling sick. For anyone who is feeling sick with the symptoms of the coronavirus, the best place to stay is their home and not the workplace. Offer COVID-19 workplace solutions that can help employees take self-assessments. If they feel they have likely acquired the infection, make it mandatory for them to stay back home and take care. Hold seminars or webinars to create awareness about the symptoms, precautions, and treatment measures, employees must take if they are infected with or have come in contact with an infected person.
10. Have fun while working
A monotonous life becomes boring with time. While work can be interesting and satisfying, it may get to the nerves sooner or later. And that is why it is important to have a workplace that brings positive changes to the workplace culture and ambiance. While making changes to the brick-and-mortar worksite can help in bringing the much-needed ambiance improvements, it is more important to involve employees themselves in bringing the changes. Encourage fun activities and team challenges, theme-based healthy pot lunches, outdoor team sports competitions, or volunteering to make the workplace a fun place to work.
Employers must identify the specific employee health and wellbeing needs to offer personalized corporate wellness programs. Engagement polls and pulse surveys are great ways to seek employee feedback and know their interests. At the end of the day, every organization wants healthy, happy, and productive employees who are ready to work sincerely for their company and help it thrive.