The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many mental health challenges, financial stress, and economic downfall. The Great Resignation almost caused turbulence in the corporate market across the globe. The pandemic has also left employees longing to understand a purpose and meaning to their personal lives and work.
Health and wellbeing are being prioritized by many companies now, especially due to their impact on workplace engagement and productivity. And so, employers have started implementing employee wellness programs to help the workforce achieve better wellbeing and for organizations to have meaningful growth.
To understand how employee wellness programs can help with workplace wellbeing, Returns on Wellbeing Institute (ROWI) conducted a study to explore the best evidence-based practices.
Best Evidence-based Practices of Workplace Wellness Programs
HR professionals of 18 companies that were well-known for their employee wellness programs were surveyed to understand the best practices of their successful wellness solutions. The aspects like workplace culture, back-up from management, and the entire approach to their wellbeing initiatives were studied. It also brought to light the possible opportunities for employers to measure their returns and plan their approaches accordingly.
The aspects like workplace culture, back-up from management, and the entire approach to their wellbeing initiatives were studied. It also brought to light the possible opportunities for employers to measure their returns and plan their approaches accordingly. The entire study was conducted by Returns on Wellbeing Institute (ROWI), in collaboration with WELCOA.
The key objectives of this study were to identify –
- Evidence-based approaches for better employee wellbeing.
- Successful strategies to leverage employee wellbeing for better ROI.
The elements of workplace wellness programs included –
- Holistic wellbeing
- Wellbeing of workers and families
- Workplace culture
- Employee satisfaction and purpose
- Planning the right employee engagement strategies
- Measuring business and wellness program ROI
- Assessment of the workplace wellness programs
The outcomes of the study showed that there were 6 main practices categorized as the best approaches to obtain maximum returns on the employee wellness programs and business ROI. They are –
- Having a strategic approach
- Prioritizing workplace culture
- Holistic wellbeing approach
- Support from leadership
- Prioritizing employee morale and purpose
- Measuring returns with the right metrics
Having a strategic approach
Most corporate wellness programs require proper strategic planning to make sure the approaches are in line with the business and workplace wellness goals. Many companies started by listing concerns and goals like absenteeism rates, healthcare costs, and likewise. Some others took it through a series of steps, gradually. Most companies with successful wellness programs agreed that their top management was actively involved in the strategic planning process.
Prioritizing workplace culture
Studies show that healthy and positive workplace culture plays a huge role in the business’s success. According to a Gallup study, 56% of adult employees across 4 countries said workplace culture was more important to them for job satisfaction than the pay scale. Almost 40% of companies conducted pulse surveys and employee engagement surveys to seek feedback about the workplace culture and other current issues.
Holistic wellbeing approach
Most conventional corporate wellness programs focus on physical wellbeing by improving aspects like nutrition and physical activity. However, keeping in mind the latest workplace wellbeing trends, employee wellness solutions have become inclusive of holistic health dimensions. Studies show that wellbeing factors like mental health, finances, social, and occupational health are all vital for the complete wellbeing of an individual. Research says the pandemic has impacted employee mental health and financial health in many ways, affecting their overall wellbeing. A mental health benefits study showed that almost 78% of Americans faced mental health issues and stress during the pandemic, and around 40% said that their workplace programs did not help enough in such times.
Through the study, many participants said that their workplace wellness programs focused on different wellbeing aspects and did not emphasize only physical fitness. Some said their workplace programs helped them make healthy eating choices, which was very important since only a very low share of US adults meet their nutritional requirements adequately. Ergonomic environments can also play a huge role in helping with employee wellbeing.
Support from leadership
Leadership commitment is considered a crucial element that can contribute to healthy workplace culture and the success of employee wellness programs. When leaders participate and are involved in wellbeing programs, they boost employee engagement and participation. Also, it helps in building healthy relationships between the employees and employers, reflecting a healthy workplace culture. It also gives a chance for the employers and managers to be directly involved with their employee wellbeing progress and reports. Also, their personal involvement will make them realize the loopholes and changes that need to be addressed through the wellbeing programs.
In addition to these factors, emphasizing employee morale and purpose at the workplace is crucial. Many employers said they wanted to improve trust and employee morale so it can resolve many issues in society and give back to the community in a better way. While many employees said that their purposes were not strategically adopted but worked out organically, others said it was designed with the intention to contribute to employee wellbeing. Volunteering, paid vacations, flexible working schedules, etc. are great ways to encourage purpose and boost employee morale at the workplace.
Some smaller companies have fewer privileges than larger companies. However, it should not be an obstacle to implementing employee wellness programs or promoting workplace wellbeing. Every company must evaluate the resources available to them and put them to use in the right way for employee wellness, reflecting better business and ROI.