Making wellness a priority in 2021 will enable organizations to boostÂ employee engagement, productivity, and company culture.
By Michelle Sedlacek
Every new year come the typical conversations amongÂ business leaders on goal-setting and objectives forÂ the year ahead, but after such a tumultuous andÂ unprecedented time for individuals and business alike,Â the next 12 months provides a unique opportunity toÂ prioritize and put a spotlight on employee wellness.
Achieving a healthy lifestyle and outlook will varyÂ by individual, but by demonstrating that the healthÂ and well-being of employees is a top priority in 2021,Â organizations can show higher emotional intelligenceÂ and empathyâultimately creating a more trusting,Â engaged workforce.
Here are five ways organizations can prioritize employeeÂ well-being in 2021.
1. Enable employees to set their own goals. The firstÂ step for any employee to reach their wellness goalsÂ is to set them in the first place. When companiesÂ take an active interest in the personal goals of theirÂ employees, everyone is that much more set up for success.Â Organizations should consider utilizing a company-wideÂ goal-setting tool or a simple set of questions thatÂ encourages employees to start thinking about how toÂ make wellness a priority this year. Regardless of the formatÂ that a company uses, encouragement and support aroundÂ setting specific, realistic, and actionable goals is key.
2. Consider adding new perks to the benefits lineup.Â This is a great opportunity for organizations toÂ take stock of the perks and wellness benefitsÂ they already offer and identify any gaps where moreÂ employee support could easily be added. For example,Â an interactive and comprehensive wellness programÂ with progress tracking and rewards could be a great wayÂ for a company to build a teamwork mentality into theirÂ culture. Actively promoting a benefit like this wouldÂ highlight the fact that employee wellness is truly aÂ priority for that organization.
3. Use incentives that work. Often, the best wayÂ to drive participation in a programâno matterÂ what that program may beâis to offer valuableÂ incentives as a reward. Many companies are now optingÂ to implement HSA funding as a reward for participatingÂ in wellness activities, while other companies rely on theÂ rewards already provided by well-being programs. ForÂ example, some programs incentivize employees withÂ gift cards or other prizes as they achieve certain wellnessÂ milestones. Using rewards and incentives in tandem withÂ a company-wide program enables organizations to seeÂ the real-time progress of their employees and draw in asÂ many participants as possible.
4. Use effective communication to promote wellness.Â The communication of a new wellness program orÂ campaign is just as crucial as the initiative itself.Â After all, employees wonât utilize a program if theyÂ donât know the details. Organizations should strategizeÂ a scheduled suite of engaging communications toÂ promote their focus on employee health and wellness.Â This messaging will work best with an employee-centricÂ view in mind. HR teams and program managers should beÂ communicating with a marketing mindset to reach andÂ engage their audience, and orchestrate messaging that isÂ as relevant and valuable to their organization as possible.Â In doing so, companies can easily integrate the value ofÂ personal wellness into the organizational culture as aÂ whole, which is a key step in demonstrating to employeesÂ that their well-being is a true priority.
5. Put a spotlight on mental health. After such anÂ uncertain year, organizations are realizing thatÂ a particular focus on the mental health of theirÂ employees needs to move to the top of their priorityÂ list. With the numerous negative effects of stress onÂ employees, including burnout, lack of productivity, andÂ decreased engagement, this is not only an individualÂ issue, but a business-level issue as well. If an organizationÂ doesnât already have the building blocks of mentalÂ health support in place, such as an employee assistanceÂ program, implementing those types of initiatives is aÂ clear first step.
To communicate mental health resources to employees,Â organizations should also be sure to empathize withÂ the point of view of their workforce and communicateÂ the most crucial aspects of how the program works.Â This includes the number of free sessions availableÂ to participants, the types of stressors the program isÂ best used for, or how much it would cost overall for anÂ individual to use the program regularly. As a bonus,Â communicating about mental health resources on anÂ ongoing basis helps to destigmatize the subject matter,Â enhancing and boosting overall company culture.
Any organizationâs success rests on the effectiveness andÂ productivity of its employees, which means employeeÂ wellnessâboth physical and mentalâshould be aÂ critical focus for leaders. Utilizing the right combinationÂ of thoughtful programs and initiatives with effective,Â engaging communication can help organizations convinceÂ their employees to participate. A new year is the perfectÂ opportunity to promote a fresh start for employees,Â both physically and mentally. In doing so, businesses canÂ help employees feel even more ready to take on the yearÂ ahead, no matter what new changes it has in store.
Michelle Sedlacek is director of people at GuideSpark Inc.