Helping employees improve their overall health
by Sammy RubinMr. Rubin is CEO and Founder of group and employees benefits innovators YuLife. Visit https://yulife.com/.
The morale of the workforce is crucial to any organization’s success – happier employees are more productive, loyal, and less likely to churn.
Consider the 2022 study from the University of Warwick, which showed that employee happiness increased productivity at work by 12%. Additionally, healthy employees are more productive, not least because they’re less likely to call in sick. And this applies not only to physical health, but mental health as well.
Given the proven benefits of employee wellbeing, more and more companies have been putting considerable resources towards perks such as on-site doctors, napping pods, and fitness classes, among others.
But costly incentives and lavish budgets aren’t the only way to boost physical and mental wellbeing within the workplace. In most cases, it’s less about expenditures and more about pairing carefully crafted wellness packages with exemplary leadership practices.
Enhancing Wellbeing In The Workplace
Fostering workplace wellbeing can be effectively promoted with a two-pronged approach that combines incentives and accessibility.
To positively influence someone’s behavior or emotional outlook, the necessary steps for initiating change must be accessible, integrative and straightforward.
At the same time, people tend to excel at their work or personal obligations when they’re rewarded. Afterall, it is frustrating to invest substantial effort into a work task – or lifestyle habit – and not see a positive outcome. In the era of instant gratification, people easily eschew long-term activities if immediate results fail to arise.
The good news is that these challenges are easily overcome.
Simple Steps Businesses Can Take
We all know we should look after our physical health through exercise and diet; and mental health through regular relaxation and mindfulness. Unfortunately, life – and often work – can get in the way.
Companies must therefore encourage their employees to be active and healthy.
Merely telling employees “Hey, go take a walk because it’s good for you,” will yield few impactful results. Rather, gamifying fitness goals and offering incentives can motivate employees to lead active lifestyles in an effective manner. For example, completing daily wellness activities and challenges such as walking, cycling and meditation can be exchanged for rewards such as shopping vouchers and discounts. This not only improves employees’ physical health and enhances their mental wellbeing by reducing stress and boosting their mood, but it offers a sense of engagement and solidarity with a company which they know looks out for them and a sense of teamwork with fellow employees who are seeking the same goals and rewards.
Physical health is only half the picture – the emphasis and awareness around mental health is higher today than ever before. Implementing structured clinical counselling and computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for personal and mental health issues is another way businesses can provide for their staff. Another option is coaching for career development and advice on issues affecting work-life balance, which provide peace of mind and a sense of stability for the future.
By helping employees with their mental health challenges in this way, businesses can empower employees to manage stress, improve resilience, enhance their overall emotional wellbeing, and in turn, improve their performance at work.
Work-provided insurance is not a new initiative, but there are new ways to elevate this longstanding benefit. More and more organizations are adding or upgrading group life and health insurance offerings to employees, which is not surprising. When factoring in the costs to the business from sickness and absence due to long waits for healthcare treatment, insurance with an impact starts to make a lot of business sense.
Protecting staff with insurance inevitably means you’ll have a healthier and happier workforce that’s more productive, efficient and motivated as a result. It also helps attract and retain talent for businesses as it’s a highly prized benefit – a more important consideration to many than even salary levels.
Finally, in a world inundated with unique apps and platforms geared towards health and wellness, partnering with other companies to provide employees with added help can be a huge plus. Such services range from financial planning apps to fitness and meditation apps to apps that focus on hormone and fertility testing, telemedicine, and treatment. Businesses can offer their staff fully or partially funded access to premium memberships for such applications, reducing the barrier to entry for their employees who may be otherwise reluctant to join.
Leadership Based Practices
Alongside what a company offers, thoughtful and empathetic leadership is essential for the creation and implementation of successful workplace health and wellness programs.
Businesses that are looking to enhance workplace wellbeing must adopt a mindset in which the wellbeing and satisfaction of workers are a priority among all managers and company leadership. To boost happiness at work, these leaders must be willing to work and reflect on the psychological, mental, and emotional aspects involved in the workspace.
Here are some universal actions leaders can take:
- Leading By Example
A leader is a motivator, and their behavior sets an example for others in the organization, so it is important that employees see leaders making healthy decisions. When leadership walks the walk, it demonstrates a high level of commitment and shows employees that their wellbeing talk is more than just words.
- Open Communication
Open and constant communication with colleagues is essential for happiness at work, so leaders with a well-being mindset cannot be isolated from the reality of their teams’ day-to-day experience. Employees feel more confident in expressing their concerns and ideas to communicative leaders – those who are not only good listeners, but who are prepared to engage in active dialogue around any and all issues.
Consider our recent YuLife report which found that 80% of workers believe that stress around financial wellbeing can negatively impact performance in the workplace, but which also showed that only 21% would feel comfortable discussing financial stress with an employer. For employers looking to reinvigorate the conversation around wellbeing, effective communication is the most important tool to maintain a solid and healthy work relationship. Simply put, promoting interpersonal relationships builds trust. Having strong levels of trust among employees at any level makes it easier for everyone to participate in wellbeing initiatives.
- Adopting Wellbeing Programs
Having a better work-life balance is the goal of many modern companies. Wellbeing programs are the secret to achieving this goal, and it is leaders who must work to create a pleasant organizational climate. In a positive environment, workers can develop their skills safely and improve on important aspects of them faster and more impactfully. Recognition and reward policies are great ways to promote the emotional wellbeing of staff while encouraging them to excel at what they do – celebrating achievements and making sure that rewards for good work reflect the needs and interests of company talent.
Feel Better, Work Better
Improving the physical, mental and emotional health of employees is directly related to business outcomes. It is also the key to recruiting and retaining talent in today’s tough hiring market.
By incentivizing healthy habits, offering mental health support, providing financial wellbeing resources and integrated insurance, and modelling healthy habits and communication in and out of the workplace, employers can empower employees to take charge of their overall wellbeing. Creating a workplace environment that values and supports the health and happiness of employees leads to increased engagement, productivity, and retention.
But investing in employee wellbeing isn’t just what’s best for business – it’s the right thing to do.