Employee Wellness Tips for A Productive New Year


It’s no secret that the end of the year tends to be the least productive time of the year. When people return to work after the holidays, they often make it a point to up their productivity. Maybe a New Year’s Resolution is at play. Maybe a new workplace initiative for the calendar year has employees inspired.

Whatever the case may be, employers should be embracing their motivated employees. However, there are a few extenuating circumstances that might get in the way. During the winter months, there are a lot of things that can hinder productivity -- most of them stemming from employee wellness.

Flu season, Seasonal Affect Disorder, and lingering holiday stress all can work against motivation and productivity.

Here are some tips that employers can utilize to improve employee wellness and get the new year off to a productive start.

Find out what your employees really want.

There’s no point in launching wellness initiatives that your employees don’t want and won’t engage in. In fact, it may have the opposite effect since employees might get the sense that you don’t value their needs.

The best way to know what your employees want and need is to ask them. Confidentially survey them to find out their status on a number of wellness items like substance use, exercise/diet habits, and mental health issues. From there, you can craft a wellness program that truly addresses employee needs, which will be much more useful for increasing productivity.

Keep it simple to start.

Before jumping headfirst into buying fitness trackers and expense-paid vacations, see what smaller changes can be made throughout the workplace. This can be as simple as replacing snacks in the break room or encouraging colleagues to take their conference calls while walking.

Focus on small implementations and education-based programs to start. That way, you can slowly introduce wellness concepts and see which ones gain traction before introducing more robust programs like gym membership reimbursement or onsite counseling.

Go beyond physical health.

It’s important to note that employee wellness goes beyond just physical health. Although things, like educating employees on flu prevention and promoting generally healthy behaviors is extremely important in the winter, it doesn’t paint the full picture of wellness.

The World Health Organization reports that one in four people, for a total of about 450 million people worldwide, suffers from a mental disorder. Mental health is something that employers need to take seriously as part of a comprehensive wellness plan.

This is especially important during this time of year. Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) presents itself the most in these winter months. An estimated 10 million Americans alone experience severe SAD, with an additional 10-20% of the adult population experiencing a more mild form.

Giving employees the resources they need to identify, mitigate, and seek professional help for their mental health issues is an important part of a successful wellness program that boosts productivity.

Be careful!

While it’s important to prioritize employee wellness, it’s equally important to avoid overspending on wellness benefits. A recent report from CR Worldwide cited that younger employees (who are taking over the workforce rapidly) are experiencing higher stress levels, and relying on rewards from employers to alleviate it. Corporate spending on employee rewards skyrocketed 67% in 2019 -- but this isn’t always doing the job to improve productivity.

Instead, find out what your employees really need to improve their wellness and incorporate that into your benefit offerings and workplace culture.

Do you need help finding the right balance of employee wellness benefits to offer that won’t cause your spending to spiral out of control? Contact one of our experts who can simplify and enhance your benefit offerings.