This article was originally published on the Heka blog.
Wellness and employee engagement go hand-in-hand. When an employee is happy with their job, it positively affects their health. When an employee is healthy and feeling their best mentally and physically, they’ll feel happier in the workplace, and less prone to burnout. It’s a relationship that builds off of one another, and employers should really take advantage of that.
A study by Gallup found that 62% of engaged employees feel their work positively affects their physical health.
However, when it comes to disengaged employees, this number drops to 39% and a mere 22% among actively disengaged employees. Out of these self-assessed disengaged employees, 54% say their work life has a negative effect on their health, while 51% see a negative effect on their wellbeing.
Engaged employees are involved, committed and enthusiastic. Disengaged employees are usually mentally checked-out, unmotivated and just “going through the motions” to get a paycheck. Actively disengaged employees are unhappy with their jobs and let that unhappiness drive them at work. They risk spreading this negativity to co-workers, impacting employee wellbeing company wide.
Not only do disengaged employees run the risk of spreading negativity and lowering office morale, they’re also costly to businesses.
Gallup found that an actively disengaged employee costs their organization $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary, or 34%. With some research suggesting that as many as 87% of workers are disengaged from their jobs, this isn’t something employers should ignore.
Creating an engaged workforce is no small task. It takes effort and some investing on the employer’s side of things to keep employees happy and motivated in their roles. But the payoff is well worth it. Engaged employees perform significantly higher than their disengaged counterparts and are generally more loyal to their company.
So, how can a corporate wellness program help drive employee engagement?
Employees feel engaged when work feels more like a community and less like a chore. Employee wellness programs help foster a sense of community in the workplace, significantly improving employee mental health. Wellness practices help bring teammates together through challenges, activities, and healthy workplace habits. Employers are also able to demonstrate their support towards employees through offering wellness solutions and educational opportunities. Investing in an employee’s wellbeing is investing in their happiness.
A survey by Virgin Pulse found that 85% of companies say wellness programs support employee engagement and the overall employee experience. Approximately 42% of the survey respondents reported that their top reason for implementing a wellness program was to improve employee engagement. Along with employee engagement, respondents also reported that wellness programs had a positive effect on recruitment, onboarding, employee retention and overall company culture.
Here are 3 tactics to focus on to incorporate workplace wellness and ultimately boost employee engagement:
Integrate Wellness Programs Intuitively
Traditionally, healthcare benefits, including wellness programs, have been fragmented and disconnected, as multiple vendors offer overlapping programs that do not communicate with one another. This leads to team member frustration, inefficiency, and poor utilization by employees, as well as redundant costs for employers.
To remedy this, organizations are implementing holistic, integrated programs that focus broadly on employees' overall wellbeing. This approach goes beyond physical wellness to also consider employees' emotional, financial, and social health.
In addition to meeting the growing demand for convenient, effective benefits services, this more complete view addresses employees' needs and provides a personalized, integrated solution to help them resolve issues and reach their goals, and holistically reinforce their professional development.
Offer Tangible Wellness Benefits
It’s never been more vital for organizations to foster the wellbeing of employees than now. This is especially vital in a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a drastic change in the workplace landscape.
While work from home (WFH) has increased freedom and flexibility (no commute), along with that comes loneliness, burnout, and longer hours, which have increased productivity and health risks. Stress is no longer the exception, but the norm, as it’s difficult to distinguish work from the already stressed personal life.
Heightened stress levels are a gateway to unhealthy lifestyles, lack of engagement, and poor performance.
As an organization, it’s even more important to prioritize wellness for remote teams. Companies that take employee wellbeing seriously are more likely to overcome the issues that come with virtual teams and remote work. Such teams will be more equipped to overcome the challenges of the new workplace dynamic.
If this is a new undertaking for you as an organization you may be wondering, “What are the best wellness activities for remote employees?"
Some great examples include:
- Online group workouts
- Virtual fitness challenges
- Virtual yoga sessions
- Guided group meditations
- Nutritional guidance/consultations
- Remote team building activities
- Virtual happy hour
- Virtual games
- Online book clubs
- Allow for time off to be truly time off
To get started on a wellness program for your team, you want first to understand their health and their willingness to improve. You then want to develop wellness programs that accommodate most (if not all) team members. While it’s essential to move as a team, don’t try to force any program onto them, as it’ll quickly backfire and increase their dislike. Instead, offer the invitation and let the team spread positivity among the team members; your goal remains their physical and mental wellness.
Looking for fun health & wellness activities to help encourage healthy habits all year-round? Download Cooleaf's free wellness calendar & activity guide.
Leverage Data to Drive Adoption
Just as each employee has a different set of needs, each organization's human resources program and perks will vary in ways that reflect the unique characteristics of their workforce and company’s mission. In order to inform the structure of an integrated wellbeing program, it is critical to understand which issues are most important to the organization's employees.
Utilizing employee engagement surveys, such as pulse surveys, and reviewing aggregate health data, including medical claims data, prescription drug use, biometric screening results, and personal health assessments, can help steer the direction of a program based on the prioritized health needs of the employee population.
Data can also be utilized on a continuous basis to identify employees at risk, stratifying the group so that appropriate interventions to address gaps in care can be implemented. By leveraging the initial aggregate data as a baseline, it is possible to get a view of the impact of interventions and measure year-over-year trends in clinical outcomes and productivity. This approach also allows the employer to tweak the mix of benefits and wellbeing offerings to meet the changing needs of an evolving workforce - and this undoubtedly will increase employee engagement.
HR leaders that take steps to shift the focus of workplace health and wellness from a traditional standalone approach to an integrated matrix of services can improve employee health and wellbeing, enhance engagement, increase productivity, and tackle some of the primary issues that drive costs and employee turnover.
And Bonus Tip - Help Build Strong Work Relationships
Believe it or not, work relationships have a strong influence on employee health, happiness, and job satisfaction. Unfortunately, workplace loneliness is considered to be a growing epidemic in modern society - especially with the rise of virtual teams. Employees who don’t have supportive connections or team-building resources in the workplace are much more likely to feel disconnected from their jobs and become disengaged in their work altogether, ultimately leading to poor employee performance. Wellness programs can help fix this problem by offering employees opportunities for social connection in order to help retain top talent. Whether it’s through walking clubs, group fitness classes or completing wellness challenges together, employees are more likely to feel engaged once they are able to connect with their peers on a deeper level.