Todayâs wellness programs benefitÂ both employees and organizations alike.
By Lynn Herrick
HR executives understand the biggest asset to anyÂ company is its people. And the biggest asset toÂ employees? Their health and well-being. Nowadays,Â employees are placing even greater value on takingÂ care of their mental and physical health, which is why itÂ makes good business sense for organizations to ensureÂ that employee wellness is a top business priority. TheÂ numbers donât lie: A study from Willis Towers WatsonÂ found that a healthy, happy workforce can reduceÂ overall business costs by more than $1,600 per employee,Â driven by a decreased need for taking time off forÂ injuries or unplanned sickness. On the other hand, notÂ having a workplace wellness program can be incrediblyÂ costly considering the potential risk for high turnover,Â employee absenteeism, and decreased employee morale.
In todayâs business world, wellness programs are keyÂ to attracting and retaining talent. There are manyÂ overarching benefits beyond health and fitness.Â Successful programs have the potential to improveÂ employee attitudes toward their jobs and interactionsÂ with coworkers; enhance collaboration and creativeÂ problem-solving; and increase retention rates.Â Improvements can seem subtle at first, but they can alsoÂ have a lasting impact on company culture and employeeÂ productivity. What else is possible?
- Facilitating teamwork. Encouraging employees toÂ participate in group activities like fitness classes,Â team sports, or other physical activities provides anÂ opportunity for workers from different departments toÂ interact, improving overall communication across teams.Â Engaging in these kinds of activities with colleagues addsÂ a social element to the work week, giving employees andÂ leadership some familiar ground to bond over withoutÂ hierarchical elements at play.
- Lowering stress levels and increasing energy. TakingÂ a moment out of the day to re-center and focus in aÂ shared environment with other employees can helpÂ reduce stress levels across the entire staff and provideÂ that jolt of energy thatâs needed at the end of aÂ hard work week. This can be done by meeting in aÂ common space or recreational room for five minutes toÂ meditate or by going on a brisk 15-minute walk. A littleÂ exercise encourages circulation in the body and casualÂ conversation that doesnât have to be about work.
- Providing perspective. Lunch time and afternoonÂ mediation and/or yoga classes offer employees theÂ opportunity to step back from the tasks at hand, takeÂ a break to clear the mind, and ultimately see solutionsÂ to problems more objectively. Ruminating on an issueÂ for too long without the benefit of perspective canÂ cloud thinking, making it difficult to reach a resolution.Â Guided meditation classes or yoga workshops can helpÂ employees free up valuable headspace and think clearly,Â allowing them to be more effective in their jobs.
Tips for Implementing a Successful Program
There are several rules of thumb to follow when rollingÂ out a wellness initiative to ensure success out of the gate:
- Make it simple. First impressions create lastingÂ impressions, and activities that are easily accessible forÂ everyone make a big impact. If registration is simple andÂ seamless, adoption levels are likely to increase.
- Get executives involved. The leadership team shouldÂ engage and participate in the new program and activelyÂ encourage others to take part as well. Especially whenÂ launching a new initiative, make sure C-Suite executivesÂ and team managers are the first to sign up.
- Offer programs that employees actually want. WhatÂ types of activities are employees looking for: an afterworkÂ sports league? Guided meditation? A group fitnessÂ class? Financial wellness? Continuing education? HostÂ monthly town hall meetings to help to understand whatÂ motivates everyone on the team, keeping in mind thatÂ what works best might vary by role or location.
- Keep it fresh. Successful wellness initiatives are drawnÂ from existing brand values, while incorporating new andÂ innovative elements. The program should look and feelÂ like itâs coming from within the organization rather thanÂ a template of what might work for other companies.
- Be flexible. Set measurable, relevant goals at the startÂ of the program and track metrics to determine success.Â If consistent pain points continue to appear, incorporateÂ changes where necessary.
- Share your success. Peer testimonials of positiveÂ outcomes from a wellness program are a great way toÂ drive further employee engagementâand even attractÂ new talent. At the same time, positive feedback canÂ be used to justify additional program investment andÂ highlight HRâs innovation.
Lynn Herrick is general counsel and CHRO at GreatCall Inc.