Five Lessons for the Modern Corporate Well-Being Program
For many companies—depending on the industry—summer brings a welcome opportunity to loosen up our workdays and take some time off to enjoy fun activities along with an extra dose of sunshine and come back to work refreshed. And as we’re now more than halfway into 2017, I’d encourage you to call upon this refreshed state of mind as you consider your employee well-being initiatives: What’s working? What’s not? And how could you jumpstart your program going into the last months of the year? It’s not too late for 2017 to be a banner year for your employees’ well-being.
One suggestion: Block out an afternoon or day with the appropriate team members to evaluate your well-being initiatives and plan for how you will continue to build engagement and excitement for your program in the remaining months of the year (and beyond). To help you get started, below are five key lessons to think about with your team—use these lessons as a jumping off point and guide for your back-half-of-the-year planning.
Well-being is not a set-it-and-forget-it issue. In addition to being wishful, it’s also unwise to think that eating one healthy meal or going to one workout class means you’re “done” with taking care of your health. Success from well-being initiatives comes, in part, from being deeply embedded within organizational culture. By continuing to grow and evolve your well-being programs, in addition to other pieces of the employee experience, you will reinforce for employees that growth and change should be the norm, not the exception. Schedule quarterly check-ins to discuss your programs to ensure that you’re staying on top of the game and responding to what’s working—and fixing what’s not—while it’s fresh. Employees trust your actions, not only your words, and making change communicates you are listening and attuned to their voice.
Personalization reigns. Consider the mix of your employee population: Does your well-being offering make it convenient for all to participate? Employees who are in the office each day have different needs from those who work remotely, travel often or work a swing shift or other alternate schedule. The one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work for the modern workforce. When we asked employees what they value most in a workplace well-being program, 75 percent responded that personal touch is their top priority. They want a personalized experience that includes credible, easy-to-access, one-on-one support for their specific needs. This can many forms, but it’s clearly a priority, especially since consumers have come to experience personalization when interacting with leading consumer brands such as Amazon, Netflix and others.
Tools are just one piece of the puzzle. Apps and fitness devices have done wonders for our ability to understand and improve our physical activity, nutrition, and sleep habits. Tools and technology can help personalize the well-being experience for employees. But research has shown that despite all this innovation, employees still significantly value connecting with colleagues face-to-face for camaraderie, support, and accountability to keep moving forward with their health-related goals. Consider how you can leverage technology to reinforce—not replace—the connections being made among employees participating in well-being initiatives.
Well-being is not one-dimensional. Employees bring their whole selves to work, and likewise, careers impact our overall well-being significantly. Workplace stress and overload is perhaps the largest issue facing our workforce, and companies must recognize their role in contributing to employees’ stress and overall health. In response, organizations must look at employee health from a whole-person view, recognizing its physical, social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions.
Since 70 percent of employees view their organization’s well-being offering as an indication of how much they care, addressing dimensions beyond physical health will not only contribute to increased employee participation, but also support improved productivity, morale and decreased health risks.
Helping employees prevent and manage health risks of all kinds before they get out of hand is paramount to maintaining productivity, remaining competitive and keeping healthcare costs at bay.
Authority matters. A key ingredient to well-being program success? Visible support from company leadership. Leaders cannot simply put financial dollars behind well-being; they need to show action. When leaders contribute their time and attention to their own health as part of the workday, employees feel more free to participate and pursue healthy activities—even those that don’t correlate directly to their work. Leaders can remove barriers to entry for employees, creating visibility and awareness as champions for well-being within the organization. Engaging leadership in your well-being initiatives could open up new levels of support and engagement. Consider that the employees who do not currently participate in your well-being programs are often either unaware such programs exists or do not feel supported by the culture of health you’ve created.
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