Over the past year, COVID-19 put a spotlight on the importance of employee wellbeing. Now, as we enter the post-pandemic workplace, employee wellness programs are quickly emerging as a strategic workplace initiative to battle chronic burnout and keep hybrid teams engaged.
If you want to boost employee engagement and retention, an effective wellness program is no longer a nice-to-have... it's a must-have. But creating a wellness program that keeps employees interested is tricky — especially if your team is distributed or working remotely. Over time, competing priorities and lack of employee buy-in can cause your wellness program to suffer.
So what's holding your wellness program back? Here's seven reasons your program might be floundering — and how you can fix it.
Your employee wellness strategy doesn't include pulse surveys
For most organizations, the standard process is to send one annual wellness survey per year. But that's not enough to effectively gauge your employees' wellbeing. Instead, organizations must consistently track and measure employee sentiment.
In addition to being useful for helping you track employee wellbeing, pulse surveys are also a powerful tool for boosting employee morale. If you're not including employee listening in your wellness strategy, employees won't feel like they have a voice in your organization's decisions.
The solution: more frequent pulse surveys. Give your employees a voice in your wellness program by asking them to anonymously share how their work environment impacts their overall health. By enabling them to have a voice in your workplace culture, your employees will feel more supported and engaged.
Tip: Stay on top of employee wellbeing with wellness surveys and frequent check-ins. Send pulse surveys at least once each quarter to measure mental wellbeing, work-related stress, and work-life balance. Be sure to include open-ended questions where employees can provide suggestions on how to better support their wellbeing.
Lack of visibility
Is your wellness program being properly communicated to your employees? Even if you believe that the program is crystal clear, your employees might not understand how the program works.
If your wellness program requires a huge amount of legwork to hunt down, employees won't bother to participate. When planning your workplace wellness strategy, leverage existing technology to spread awareness of your programming and health benefits.
Tip: Make sure that your wellness program is clearly visible with nudges and reminders of the benefits. Include information about your wellbeing program in monthly newsletters, and use tech tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep employees in the loop.
Mental health is treated as an afterthought
76 percent of employees believe their company should be doing more to protect their mental health. Unfortunately, many organizations overlook mental wellbeing when designing their workplace wellness program.
With so many employees experiencing chronic stress and even burnout, employee mental health must be treated as a top priority. Ultimately, your wellbeing programs should also emphasize wellbeing activities like taking breaks, drinking plenty of water, practicing gratitude, and getting adequate sleep. Consider offering access to online therapy sessions as a wellness perk as well.
Tip: Show your employees that mental health is a priority by sending frequent pulse surveys and offering programming that highlights the importance of mental health. Build healthy habits by incorporating self-care into your wellness programming.
Old school technology
Many organizations still rely on outdated technology like spreadsheets or e-mail to track wellness participation. Not only is this more cumbersome to manage, but it also discourages employees from participating.
These days, there are tons of tech platforms available to help you take your employees' wellbeing to the next level. Apps like Headspace, which helps employees with stress management through mindfulness, and Wellbeats, which offers virtual, on-demand fitness classes, are a great benefit to encourage team members to take care of their health. Or, there's employee experience platforms like Cooleaf, which offers wellness rewards, employee wellbeing programming, and integrated fitness tracking in one comprehensive platform.
Tip: Incorporate modern technology like integrated fitness trackers, video coaching, and health apps to engage and connect your team.
Without engaging programming, your wellness program will stall. To prevent wellness programming from growing stale, employers should regularly research new and creative opportunities to engage their team in health & wellness.
Ongoing competitions and wellness events provide opportunities to encourage employee health and wellness. They also offer a powerful way for employees to get to know one another and support teammates' journeys towards better health.
Increasingly, top workplaces are incorporating gamification and social connection — like real-time leaderboards and social feeds — to keep team members motivated in health and wellness. With today's wellness technologies, you can easily track your team's progress and monitor the effectiveness of your wellness program.
Tip: Build a calendar of wellbeing activities and run them throughout the year. Crowdsource ideas from employees to learn what would make them feel more supported and engaged in wellness. You might be surprised by some of the creative ideas they share!
Wellness rewards are too difficult to attain
Employee wellbeing incentives or rewards are a powerful tool to boost program participation and encourage employee health.
Benefits-based well-being incentive programs often offer employee incentives such as a discount on their insurance premium, paid time off, or a contribution to an HSA or HRA. However, research shows that small, short-term incentives may be even more powerful in increasing healthy habits in the long-term.
When wellness incentives are tied to small achievements, employees are more likely to stay engaged in your wellness program and feel positively towards your workplace culture.
Tip: Incentives need to be attainable in order to be effective. Offer tangible, immediate rewards for achieving small health goals like drinking more water or walking at least 7,500 steps each day.
As we all return to the office or begin to plan their hybrid work strategy, employers will need to re-examine their approach to employee wellbeing. We hope these tips will help your employee wellness program flourish!