One argument today that (almost) all employees around the globe would collectively stand for is how the reason behind their adversely influenced health status – as a matter of fact – is the ever-burdening workload on them.
With continuous exhaustion and over-burdened work-desks, the workforce today feels abandoned by their employers in terms of the “employee-wellbeing” factor/claim. These issues along with the others (personal) when combined not only highlight an alarming health risk factor for employees but also result in shot-up employee health care costs for the employers.
“Mental health problems cost UK employers a huge sum of £45 billion before the pandemic. And since the pandemic hit, less than ⅓ of participants rate their own wellbeing as ‘positive’.
Given that employees’ well-being is not just their “personal” issue but in reality also affects a business “directly” – in terms of turnover, productivity, and health care costs – it’s no surprise that smart market players who are actively promoting employee well-being are seeing improvements in their performance and also revenues overall.
Progressing into 2021, smart employers shouldn’t miss out on the chance to assist their workforce in overcoming their wellness struggles during remote work. In a recent study by AON, it was found that 71% of employers agreed that they felt responsible for all areas of their employees’ health and development. Thus with a “leader’s” mindset, responsible employers must proactively start taking actions, chart out key strategies, and invest in overall employee well-being.
Wellbeing programs are an accumulation of a spectrum of activities, initiatives, and ideas that include elements such as emotional well-being, social well-being, intellectual well-being, financial well-being, and spiritual well-being. Contrary to the common speculations, when these elements are applied strategically into a well-being program the results can turn out highly cost-effective and feasible for organisations of all sizes. The best key to form a strong corporate wellness program is to include measures that aim towards improving all forms of health behaviours of employees, keeping them fit, improving employee engagement, and helping them grow professionally.
Naturally, the challenge that most companies face when ideating or strategising for an effective and wholesome well-being program is the cost factor involved. However, thankfully enough there are multiple cost-effective well-being measures that one can deploy for their employee’s wellness in their business of any size-
Building a Safe Space Using Non-Monetary Incentives
The first step that a manager would want to take when working on a remote employee well-being program is to build an approachable and safe space for their employees to engage with. Research by the CIPD and Simplyhealth found that only ⅓ of managers were sufficiently confident to initiate discussions revolving around the mental-health subject and directing employees to appropriate support. Creating support start with as little as learning about well-being drivers such as mental and physical health and helping employees on an individual level.
In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to support an employee’s well-being. Therefore, the best solution is to adopt a personalised and incentive-based program to let employees feel motivated to participate. Here, instead of investing in materialistic incentives, you can leverage soft incentives such as recognition, mentoring opportunity, flexibility at work, etc.
The next step should be to encourage their employees to participate in this safe space. This must be done by offering them relevant directions, resources, and tools to access this program. After all, it is a space “for” the employees.
Recent research by RAND Europe and VitalityHealth indicated that even when most employers offered a range of wellbeing initiatives at work, access to these was an issue for their employees. Less than almost 20% of employees mentioned that they were “aware” of where to access “their” wellbeing initiatives.
Encouraging Employees to Embrace their Health and Improve Productivity
New research by Direct Line has found that improved financial wellbeing, less time commuting, more time spent with family, and better health top the list of reasons why employees would prefer flexible and home working in the future.
Even though there are a good fraction of employees who like working from home, it is not the case for most. Employee health- both physical and mental is seen to have deteriorated for many employees since the implementation of remote setting. And for a remote employer, tackling employee health issues is important not only to increase productivity but also to avoid bearing excessive healthcare costs.
One of the most effective ways to encourage a healthy home lifestyle among employees is by associating it with a social cause. Affiliating health promotion programs with social causes give participants an opportunity to give back to society. This also strengthens your business’s corporate social responsibility commitments- highly cost-effective if we look at the benefits to reap. Activities or challenges such as pushups for uplifting society, meditation runs, home cyclothons, etc can all be a part of such well-being programs that are into social causes.
To target personalised initiatives for certain sub-groups you can start assessing well-being data dynamically and according to metrics such as time of day, day of the week, or employees’ age, to build up a better picture of habits across the company.
Additionally, to let your employees gain sound mental health while working on their bodies, you can facilitate weekly yoga sessions to help the cause. To keep this cost-effective, you can search for a yoga practitioner among the workforce or find volunteers to head these sessions online via social media.
Allowing Flexible Working to Reduce Absenteeism
It doesn’t come as a surprise that most well-being issues in 2021 result from the excessive workload that employees are bearing while remote-working. Moreover, this situation is likely to only worsen the struggle if your workforce keeps facing the “unavailability of a flexible work schedule” issue.
Factors such as added work and home responsibilities along with disturbed sleep cycles, damaged body postures, and confinement within the same four walls when combined, leave an employee with no time to rejuvenate themselves.
Therefore, as an employer or manager, allowing your employees to have flexible work hours can be a huge step towards implementing proper workplace wellness. And not to mention – highly cost-effective in the long run.
Another measure to promote employee well-being at home is to encourage (reasonably) frequent work breaks. Sitting in the same position for long periods of time, without any significant movement, staring at a screen, can all cause severe health problems. And when done together, the consequences can be extreme. Some of the most common issues caused by these activities include eye strains, Fatigue, backaches, headaches, muscle cramps, etc.
Allowing your employees to take short breaks between work will help them mitigate these problems and also let them rejuvenate to come back much fresher and with better productivity – ensuring lower absenteeism.
Educating your Employees In-House
Workplace Wellness and employee well-being are not just limited to health-related elements. A “good” and effective well-being program helps the employees grow. And what better way to help your employees grow than conducting group sessions on most demanded topics such as “essentials of budgeting”
According to a survey of 2,056 adults in the U.K by YuLife, 69% of respondents believe that employers have a responsibility to look after their financial well-being; this number rises to 77% among young adults aged 25 to 34. Since workplace wellness is related to an employees’ overall lifestyle behaviour, these programs should also include a positive influence on ones’ financial habits such as spending, earning, health insurance investments, debts to pay, and other personal investments. Mismanagement of these habits can lead your employee’s well-being towards stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and even heart diseases.
Therefore conducting group sessions on budgeting for your employees can enable them to maintain good financial wellbeing. Other ways to educate and develop your workforce intellectually and within a budget is by investing in an enterprise-level training or coaching app that covers a range of topics and courses. This way you get to educate tens of employees at a reasonable cost.
Wellness at the workplace is not supposed to limit to providing employees health insurance or free medical checkups. It is so much more than that. It is about keeping a professional relationship while building a personal and caring connection, which is also the need of the hour.
Today as we keep moving towards our “workplace of future” in the post-pandemic world, employee well-being is likely to be on top of the list of priorities of agenda for progressive and successful leaders, and for a long time or even forever. It is a healthy practice too since the cost to employers for ignoring employee well-being can turn out hefty! Hence, the urgency to start a program soon – perhaps today. Book a call with our expert consultants to know more about how you can build an efficient and cost-effective employee well-being program in 2021.