When a new year rolls in, wellness becomes a top priority as we announce our resolutions towards fitness, nutrition, and mental health. But by springtime, the resolve behind resolutions tends to fade as we get back to the daily grind. When we spend most of our lives at work, how can we focus on working toward our wellness goals?

Businesses may feel employees are better off pursuing their wellness goals when not on company time. Or they may have a wellness program in place, but consider it a perk and not a priority.

But the truth is, employee wellness is integrally connected to engagement and productivity, and should be a central component to any effective business plan.


The Engagement-Wellness Connection

Multiple studies have shown that low employee engagement been shown to affect employee health -- for one, health care expenditures at high-pressure, negative culture companies are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations. But even when employees are engaged, a lack of support for employee wellness can still strike a blow to company productivity. According to Gallup, “Compared with employees who have high [employee] engagement but otherwise exhibit low levels of well-being, those who are engaged and who have high well-being ... are 30% more likely not to miss any workdays because of poor health in any given month .” Engaged and healthy employees also miss 70% fewer workdays because of poor health annually. Actively supporting employee wellness is needed to maintain productivity.

Boost Your Wellness Program

Employee wellness programs will vary based on workforce needs, so there is no one consistent definition of what a wellness program should cover. Gym memberships, healthier food options, newsletters, company-wide events -- whatever the approach, the important thing is to make it clear to employees that their well-being is valued by the company.

But making that clear is harder than it seems. Though 85% of companies with over 1000 employees have wellness programs in place, only 60% of employees are even aware of them, and a mere 40% of those in the know actually use it. Additionally, wellness programs have gained a bad rap for tending to reward those who are already healthy, or for a lack of privacy around sensitive health topics.

 

With this is mind, here are our top tips for your employee wellness program:

 

      1. Make it Simple
        General resolutions or wellness goals can be overwhelming. If people don’t quantify what it will take to reach a goal, they’re more likely to quit. Employee wellness programs should thus encourage specific, simple, and trackable goals for employees to tackle. Systems like the SMART goal-setting technique can help employees build out their goals into something manageable.
      2. Make it Holistic
        As mentioned above, wellness programs that only focus on one aspect of health tend to favor those who are already healthy, and thus alienates most everyone else. That’s why it’s important to address emotional, mental, and even financial well-being. Everyone can use a little help in one or all of these areas, helping all parties grow and not feel judged or left out.
      3. Make it Social
        According to Wellness Works Hub, sharing goals with others is one of the best ways to get people to keep their resolutions. While it should never be a requirement, encouraging employees to share their wellness successes as they would, say, a Facebook photo or status update, might help to not only keep employees on track, but to build a sense of camaraderie in the workplace.
      4. Make it Tech-Friendly
        Considering how many people use apps or Fitbits to track their wellness, employee wellness programs would do well to integrate tech when tracking employee progress. An online hub could provide not only tech integration, but also an easy way to track progress and rewards, connect employees, and access program information.
      5. Make it Work with Your Culture
        Overall, the important thing is to give your employees what they need to work and feel well. More than just taking sweets out of the break room, listen to what they want from a wellness program and make it easy for them to find the resources they need. Get management involved and tie your wellness efforts to your company messaging, to make it clear that employee well-being is integral at the core of your organization.

 

When done right, wellness programs have been shown to boast an average return on investment of about 3:1, increasing productivity and engagement, and decreasing absenteeism. Making a resolution to help your employees keep their resolutions will not only bring healthier employees, but a healthier organization as well.

 

 

Sources:

http://wellnessworkshub.com/new-years-resolutions-workplace-wellness/

http://www.benefitspro.com/2014/12/17/3-workplace-wellness-new-years-resolutions

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2016/04/21/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-employee-wellness-programs/#72baceb8610c

http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/168995/why-workplace-wellness-program-isn-working.aspx