Cognitive Ability

September 9, 2019

Amelia Herring

4 Ways to Expand the Concept of Employee Wellness

4 Ways to Expand the Concept of Employee Wellness
Amelia Herring
Employee wellness in the workplace is trending upwards- how healthy is yours? Would your workers agree?

There’s a little bit more to the idea of employee wellness than a complimentary annual cholesterol check.

Like many aspects of the modern workplace, the concept of employee wellness has undergone some necessary changes in recent years. Consider that a full 89 percent of workers at organizations that support wellness initiatives tend to recommend their company as a good place to work, according to Forbes. The same report emphasizes the fact that employees see the benefits as a reflection of the broader philosophy and culture of the organization.

Wellness initiatives aren’t just a perk companies can choose to offer. Employees are making it known that they’re a priority.

One easy way for employers to acknowledge that they’ve heard that message loud and clear? Make sure employees know you care about their well-being as much as they do.

What are the benefits of expanded employee wellness?

If an employee can hit the gym before clocking in, find healthy breakfast options in the kitchen after taking a hot shower, and sit (or stand) in an ergonomically optimized workstation, it’s pretty obvious how that benefits workers.

But what about the benefits for employers?

They’re not too hard to list – and it’s even easier to spot how they’re interconnected. Higher engagement leads to increased productivity, which begets employee satisfaction, which leads to reduced absenteeism, which equates to higher retention. The wheel of wellness keeps spinning in a positive direction.

Additionally, consider these:

  1. Reduced healthcare costs. A 2011 case study looking at large companies found an ROI of $2 to $4 per dollar spent on employee wellness programs.
  2. Better company culture. Bringing in catered healthy lunches or encouraging employees to volunteer tend to lead to a happier workplace.
  3. Easier recruiting. Remember those 89 percent of folks at wellness-oriented organizations who said they’d tout the pros of working at their company? The proof is in the pudding.

Wonderlic started its own Wellness Guild in 2018 when a handful of employees interested in workplace well-being raised their hands and got the ball rolling.

There’s still a lot to learn from our end, but here are four effective ways to expand your company’s wellness program.

1. Get organizational buy-in

That doesn’t just mean a budget (thought that’s necessary, too). Your company has to support any initiative from the top down for it to be successful, and an employee wellness program is no different.

Healthy and open communication is key. Send emails to all employees announcing the initiative, the components to it, and the team involved in delivering. Post flyers of promotions or upcoming activities in common areas around the office. Create a dedicated space on the company intranet page spotlighting ideas or commissioning suggestions.

Not everything needs to involve loosening the entire organization’s purse strings or shifting budget from elsewhere. Walking lunches on nice days or coffee with co-workers can be done cheaply or freely.

2. Take the pulse of the company to shape your choices

Ahh, the power of the internal survey. You can ask around to see what your colleagues’ definition of employee wellness is, but you might not always get honest responses.

A comprehensive organizational survey, which grants employees anonymity in exchange for candid feedback, should help you find the mark. Provide the reasoning behind the survey and what you’re hoping to achieve. Make it lightweight and fun, but make sure it’s optimized to deliver measurable results.

The survey can be your starting point, but don’t let it be your final destination when planning your wellness initiatives. Let the organization know that everyone’s voice will be heard as you continue to pioneer the program.

3. Make it about more than physical well-being

We referenced on-site gyms and healthy snacks earlier, and those are great perks for any company to provide.

But a lot of this initiative is about how to deal with stress both at and away from the workplace. You wellness program should be a reflection of that.

Wonderlic’s first few Wellness Guild activities tried to provide a balance of promoting mental health and relaxation. We started with a Stress Management workshop that dug into practical tips and exercises designed to reinforce work-life balance.

Pets provide unconditional love and support, so the Guild held a Bring Your Dog to Work Day. And there’s nothing more relaxing for mind and body than a massage – Wonderlic has twice offered 20-minute chair massages to help take the stress out of that looming deadline.

4. Have fun with it

And commit to it. Wonderlic’s Wellness Guild attended an PERKS convention designed to brush up on the latest trends in employee benefits and wellness. There are plenty of online resources dedicated to evolving ideas.

Incentives never hurt, either. An employee who might not be Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen might be more tempted to participate in a Holiday Bake-Off with the lure of a $25 Amazon gift card to top 10 finishers. A similar prize for the person who takes the most steps in April – tracked via a Slack integrated plug-in – could encourage both participation and camaraderie.

If all else fails, just take some friendly advice from the cast of “Parks and Recreation.”

Are you ready to expand the concept of employee wellness in your organization?

When it comes down to it, the best way to understand your employees’ health needs and goals is to ask them. That’s what we did at Wonderlic, and that’s what we’re committed to doing as we expand our Wellness Guild in the future.

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