Wellness is no longer just the preserve of yoga studios and health food shops. It’s a key business concern that business owners, managers and employers need to prioritise to create meaningful employee experiences. And for HR leaders, that means you need an employee wellness strategy that goes beyond compensation, kudos and cards on birthdays.
Managing employee wellness requires a strategic approach that balances your business needs with the needs of your most valuable resource – your people. And your strategy must combine information, empathy and creativity. In this article, we look at the world of wellness in business, why it matters and what you can do to create the right culture in your organisation.
Looking after employee wellbeing should be a top priority
The working world is undergoing its biggest shakeup in generations. Remote working, connected digital platforms and always-on culture are driving employees to question all the conventional structures behind work. In essence, people are wondering, ‘Is this job good for me?’
For a long time, that was considered a relatively simple question – businesses provided compensation and benefits in exchange for the time and labour of their employees. Today, however, your people need more. There are multiple dimensions of wellness, extending far beyond the financial, and your employee wellness strategy needs to consider all of them.
Wellness doesn’t have the strongest record among employers, with a 2020 Gallup Poll finding that, of those surveyed, just 48% of people believed their employer cared about their wellbeing. By March 2021, this number dropped to 35%.
Focusing on employee wellness isn’t just about staff retention, it’s a chance to create a company brand that actively attracts top talent. According to Forbes, 60% of employees say that wellbeing benefits will be a top priority in their next job hunt.
At a time when more people than ever are reconsidering their employment options, focusing on wellness can be your route to retaining and rewarding your key talent in ways that matter to them.
Why does having an employee wellness strategy matter now?
Recent years have seen significant disruption in nearly every sector. All of this carries a personal cost and businesses must recognise this. However, at the same time, the gulf between businesses and their employees has never been larger.
The shift away from traditional office environments has a huge part to play. While offices and shared workplaces were not necessarily to everyone’s tastes, they provided a stable foundation for what work looked like and a physical link between employers and their teams.
Without the ability to regularly communicate and interact face-to-face with employees, it can be difficult to ‘read the room’ in terms of employee sentiment. Meanwhile, the lack of personal interaction outside of planned, necessary meetings can weaken relationships, making it less likely that a team member in trouble would come forward with their concerns.
Employers can no longer just hope for the best. By the time you know there is a problem, you may have already lost that employee to a business that can show they care.
What are the main benefits of implementing an employee wellness strategy?
A wellness strategy isn’t just for show or to tick a box – planned and executed it can deliver measurable value for your team and your business. And with a third of UK workers considering a career change this year, it’s not something you can afford to neglect.
Key benefits of an employee wellness strategy include:
- Improving the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees
- Improving engagement at work alongside company morale
- Making your business a more attractive option for potential hires
- Reducing sick rates by proactively looking after employee health
- Fostering better engagement and productivity between employees
To put a number on it, the Harvard Business Review previously put the return on investment for wellness at $2.71 on every dollar invested, but that’s just one reason among many.
What makes a good employee wellness strategy?
A good employee wellness strategy is a proactive programme of benefits, services and processes designed to encourage physical, financial, emotional and mental wellbeing. While some of these have been considered in isolation in the past – think gym memberships and bike-to-work schemes – the reality is that they’re all connected. For example, if one of your employees is having financial difficulties, they’re also likely to be experiencing emotional or even physical impacts.
Top-down, mandated wellness programmes based on some imaginary idea of what employers think their employees should want risk backfiring and coming off as token gestures. Since the goal of an employee wellness strategy is to make employees feel valued and supported, the first step is always to work out what matters to them.
This starts with listening to your people and gathering representative information to inform your approach and make sure you’re delivering the right support to every employee and meeting their individual needs.
We’ve covered how to create an employee wellbeing survey before, going through the methodologies to gather feedback from your team.
Getting closer to your employees through feedback
A strong employee wellness or wellbeing programme starts with reliable insight into your employees’ needs. When your workforce is spread out around the world, it’s even more important to engage but first, you need to find a way to connect.
That’s where a culture of employee feedback comes in. Reach out to employees for feedback and gather information about the issues that matter. Collaborate and ideate together and analyse feedback and insights to ensure that improvements are focused in the right areas and meaningful actions can be taken.
There are various employee engagement and experience platforms on the market that can support your efforts. For example, Tivian’s software is designed to help employers get the feedback from staff that matters to capture and harness employee data to drive deeper insights, improve decision-making and create a happier workplace.
We’ve highlighted the importance of a dedicated focus on employee wellbeing and got you thinking about the benefits of implementing an employee wellness strategy. But remember, don’t view your strategy as a laundry list of perks to offer. It’s about creating a culture and approach that promotes work-life balance, creates space for employees to say how they feel and provides a means to support every employee.
If you need more guidance on creating a winning employee wellness strategy, get in touch with the Tivian team – we can discuss everything from the ideation phase through to implementation. Or learn about how our employee experience tools can help you turn employee feedback and engagement into a competitive advantage.