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.

Personalise

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.

Wellbeing at work is a hot topic for both employees and employers.

While wellbeing encompasses the elements of having time for a life outside of work (work-life balance), as well as a state of physical health and energy (wellness), it also involves broader dimensions of a holistic and thriving life.

Gallup found that there are five elements of wellbeing for a successful life:

Career
Liking what we do and being motivated to achieve our goals.

Social
Having supportive relationships.

Financial
Having a secure and stress-free economic life.

Physical
Good health and energy to get things done.

Community
Feeling safe and having pride in our community.

A focus on wellbeing supports both individual and company goals. Having a sense of wellbeing means individuals build better relationships with their colleagues and ensures they have the mental capacity to work on complex tasks. A study by HERO and Mercer revealed that companies with a comprehensive wellbeing program outperformed the S&P 500 Index in 16 out of 24 quarters.

Professional coaching is a powerful way to support employee wellbeing in the following ways:

Aligning values
Research shows that shared values between the individual and their company results in greater commitment, feelings of success and self-confidence. These feelings can act as a buffer to stress and burnout, increasing overall satisfaction and wellbeing at work.

By engaging with a coach, people are able to identify areas where their values align closely with the work that they do, which parts of their job mean the most to them, and where their strengths lie. This enables individuals to find their work motivating and meaningful. These positive effects are not just confined to the workplace, but also impact other aspects of their life.

Building new skills
Engaging in personal development helps performance by increasing confidence and self-awareness. Performing well increases the feeling of belonging, purpose and accomplishment that contributes to wellbeing.

Becoming a better communicator
Personal wellbeing is closely tied to the strengths of a person’s interpersonal relationships. In general, people who communicate effectively tend to experience greater wellbeing.

Coaching can help improve communication skills with any type of audience, which in turn improves interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

Building resilience
Resilience is a personal resource that protects from stress and potential burnout. Coaching focuses on building awareness by challenging limiting beliefs, setting realistic goals and finding ways to meet them, to help adopt more positive ways of thinking and working.

With the challenging year that has just gone by, and the uncertainties we continue to live in today, many employees are going through heightened stress, isolation and anxiety. How employers and managers respond to this, makes a big difference in how people show up to work, as well as their engagement and productivity.

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