We’re sure all employers have heard the term “workplace wellness” thrown around a lot lately. That begs the question: is it just another buzzword or is it worth paying attention to?
Workplace wellness is something that employers should definitely take seriously. Today’s “always on” work culture has led to a lot of late nights at the office, long days spent on the computer, and takeout meals for employees -- which doesn’t exactly bode well for physical or mental health.
Prioritizing workplace wellness can increase productivity by up to 62%, performance by up to 60%, and employee engagement by up to 41%. All that, combined with long-term health care savings, can make a significant impact on your bottom line and employee experience.
The components of workplace wellness
According to research by Gallup and Healthways, overall wellness is made of five essential elements. The “Gallup-Healthways Well-being 5” are:
- Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
- Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
While these elements apply to overall life, there are definitely aspects of each element that are heavily influenced by the workplace. The elements are often intertwined and reinforce each other, so the best way to improve wellness is through a holistic approach.
So how can employers improve workplace wellness?
Here are some tips for prioritizing workplace wellness in your organization:
Include your remote workers
Remote work has been rising in popularity over the past few years. But since the COVID-19 crisis, it’s the new normal for many organizations. Don’t forget to include your remote workers in wellness initiatives as they are a valuable part of your company and can sometimes be isolated from other workplace initiatives. You can include your remote workers by utilizing video-based activities or resources that don’t need to be accessed in the office. And remember, just because they are remote doesn’t mean they physically can’t come to the office for special occasions (unless travel is difficult), so be sure to extend the invitation anyway. Sometimes, just knowing the invitation is extended has the same impact as participating in the event.
Make wellness benefits more accessible
Often, enrollment in benefits is limited to a two-week open enrollment period. Making wellness benefits accessible all year round will help increase participation and allow employees to utilize them when they need them most.
It’s also important to make sure all employees are fully aware of the wellness benefits available to them. For example, if someone declines health insurance because they are covered under a spouse’s plan, they may not actively seek other benefits. Periodically remind employees about all the programs available to them and make sure they know these benefits are not directly tied to health insurance coverage.
Make sure these benefits are available online, so remote employees can easily understand what is available to them.
Expand beyond physical wellness
Where most workplace wellness initiatives fall short is that they only focus on physical health. But that’s only one piece of a larger puzzle. Workplace wellness programs should also consider:
- Mental wellness. Reports show that 1 in 5 American adults experience a mental illness issue. Providing support to reduce stress and improve mental health should be a large component of workplace wellness. Make sure employees can access mental health wellness benefits in confidence and privacy so they are comfortable accessing them.
- Spiritual wellness. While specific religious events should typically be avoided in the workplace, promoting mindfulness and spiritual wellness helps improve overall well-being.
- Financial wellness. Finances are the largest stressor among American adults. Providing resources, workshops, and benefits related to financial wellness can help bring peace of mind and security around finances.
Try new things and ask for feedback
When it comes to workplace wellness initiatives, you won’t know what works until you try. Some trending activities you can try include:
- Lunchtime meditation or yoga classes
- Team charity walks or volunteer outings
- Scheduling walking meetings
- Offering personalized nutrition counseling
- Purchasing standing desks
- Virtual 5K runs and marathons
- Incentives for physical activity with milestones tracked digitally
- Wellness challenges with virtual leaderboards
When introducing new programs or ideas, ask for candid and anonymous feedback. Use that feedback, along with additional employee suggestions, to craft a wellness program that really resonates with your employees.
Workplace wellness shouldn’t be looked at as another buzzword or trend. It’s an important initiative that can have a significant impact on your bottom line and employee experience, so be sure to follow these tips and implement a successful workplace wellness program.