Demanding work environments and the impact of the pandemic have skyrocketed the need for employee wellbeing programs. A recent survey showed that employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three needs from their companies.
In Gartner’s 2020 employee wellbeing survey, they showed that 46% of US companies increased their budgets in 2020 from 2019. Despite that, the engagement with these programs have been low. For example, only 23% of employees use emotional wellbeing support – such as access to therapists – offered by their company.
This highlights the big disconnect between a company’s wellbeing initiatives and what employees actually want. Why spend money on wellbeing programs that go unused?
Successful employee wellbeing frameworks have a positive impact on employee health, engagement, and retention. Companies that are able to do the most to promote successful employee wellbeing programs have lower turnover to those that put in least efforts towards such employee wellbeing initiatives.
So what are employee wellbeing best practices and how can we increase access to and engagement in the programs that are created by companies?
Assess employee needs and get feedback to measure the impact
Before coming up with a wellbeing program, companies should understand the needs and goals of their employees. Running a company-wide survey or conducting focus group conversations can give employees the opportunity to share their current challenges and the elements of employee wellbeing that are most important to them (physical, emotional, financial etc.). Additionally, measuring impact is crucial. Creating employee wellbeing metrics that are measurable and attainable should be part of any employee wellbeing program. To measure these metrics, a simple pulse survey run over time can help get insights and feedback on how people are doing.
Increase awareness on benefits of employee wellbeing
For a program to be successful, employees need to be aware of it. Too often, employees forget the benefits they have access to. Companies can remind employees of the programs available and increase knowledge of the wellbeing efforts by leveraging the influence and connections of their team managers. Managers have greater access to their teams. Through regular check-ins, they can also get insights about their team’s wellbeing needs, and help personalise the available offerings.
This is a great way to empower employees to own their wellbeing! When employees find tailored solutions to their unique challenges, they can be more motivated to utilise the offerings. One-to-one coaching for employees is a powerful tool to enable this. Coaches provide a safe and confidential space which honors the individual’s strengths and helps them successfully navigate through their road-blocks and unique challenges.
Create space and time to participate
If employees are always busy with work, they are unlikely to have the time or energy to participate in any company initiatives. By integrating wellbeing into everyday practices, companies can increase employee participation and help them reap the benefits of such efforts. One way of doing this is to incorporate company-wide or team-wide breaks into employees calendars to participate in the company’s employee wellbeing offerings.
Normalise seeking support
Even with good employee wellbeing programs in place, people may not want to access them for fear of being judged. Leaders should walk the talk, share their own experiences and challenges around wellbeing, as well as participate in the offerings themselves. This will empower people to have open and honest conversations around employee wellbeing and participate in such offerings.
Companies can boost engagement in employee wellbeing programs by incorporating their employees’ needs, proactively demonstrating the benefits of such initiatives, and empowering them to own their wellbeing.