Corporate wellness programs have proven effective in lowering medical costs and decreasing absenteeism. Now it’s time for businesses to aim higher, to move beyond just wellness and promote employee well-being.
Well-being means more than just being physically healthy. It means engaged employees, a positive corporate culture, work-life harmonization, and more. Well-being seeks to address employee’s need for purpose and connections in addition to their emotional, financial and physical health.
When employees thrive, so does the company. A thriving company is one that can retain and attract talent, drive engagement and productivity, create positive employee experiences, and reduce costs. Well-being investments can help drive both topline revenue growth and bottom line cost savings. Employees equipped to effectively manage the stresses of a rapidly changing world can accomplish more with less. They are more productive, creative, collaborative, efficient and happy.
"In the future of work, progressive companies will design their employee well-being programs to engage their people from the heart in their life-work." Jeremy Scrivens, Director, The Emotional Economy at Work Click to tweet
There are two important factors to consider when calculating a business’ investment in well-being. One is the straight return on investment, measurable in lowered healthcare costs and reduced usage of services.
The other is value on investment, which is less readily expressed in dollars and cents, but can have equally tangible benefits to the business. Well-being programs promote employee engagement, which can realize substantial value through increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and lower turnover.
Every dollar invested in wellness programs saves $3 in healthcare costs.
Over half of employers with well-being programs have seen decreased absenteeism, increased productivity and employee engagement.
Businesses with engaged employees saw a 10% increase in positive customer ratings, 20% in sales, and 21% greater profitability.
Well-being solutions that are most effective seek to inspire sustainable behavioral change. That type of change requires more than a gym discount or healthier meals in the cafeteria; it requires making healthy choices easier than unhealthy ones. To reach that end, a well-being solution should have these attributes:
“If organizations want employees to participate at a high level in well-being initiatives, they need to set the example. It’s not enough to write a memo or talk about it in a meeting. Senior management needs to not only buy-into and support well-being programs but participate in them.” Sharlyn Lauby, Author & Publisher, HR Bartender Click to tweet
Well-being programs only work if employees choose to participate. That requires a plan to generate initial enthusiasm, and a long-term plan to keep employees engaged with the program. Think of these plans as internal marketing; they should have the same strategic structure as any external marketing campaign. Make sure your roll-out plan includes:
The answers to these questions will vary widely depending on your particular organization, but it’s important to have them answered before the program rolls out.
Measurement is a crucial part of creating a sustained employee well-being program. The ability to gauge progress and improve over time needs to be built into the program at the foundation, not tacked on at the end. Start with goals in mind, develop metrics that match the goals, and clearly define success before you roll out the program.
“How do you measure the success of an employee wellness program? How do you measure anything? Start with desired outcomes – because a measurement in itself is meaningless. If a table is six feet long, is that good or bad? It depends on how and where I plan to use that table.
Know what your organization needs. Pinpoint the result you need to see. Is it enhanced productivity or employee performance, tracking to goals, lower stress and cross-geographical collaboration, increased attraction and retention and/or contained insurance costs? Measure your baseline and the outcomes. Use data you already have (applicant tracking, performance levels, lost time, etc). Add surveys that measure employee and manager perceptions. How does perception change over time?
Third-party wellness programs provide engagement metrics – who is using what application or service, how often and when. Tie the variables from the wellness metrics to your in-house data.
Gain deeper insights through stakeholder interviews. Create engagement from the top down by having conversations with management and with team members to understand how wellness initiatives impact daily work life. All business ventures begin with a question. Knowing the question leads to truly measurable outcomes.” Click to tweet
The most successful well-being programs invite employees to participate in a shared initiative that is an inextricable part of the company culture. Leadership should set the example, demonstrating that the program is valuable and worthwhile regardless of your place on the org chart.
“If organizations want employees to participate at a high level in wellness initiatives, they need to set the example. It’s not enough to write a memo or talk about it in a meeting. Senior management needs to not only buy-into and support wellness programs but participate in them. Managers need to do more than attend a training program. They need to demonstrate that wellness is important in the daily operation.
In addition, setting the example must be visible. I’ve seen managers who are very supportive, but in a quiet way. They’re supportive in one-on-one meetings or when asked the question. Make no mistake, that needs to happen. But employees need to see that wellness is embraced by the entire management team, not simply one or two select managers. When those things happen, well-being becomes part of the organizational culture and employees are inspired to be a part of it.” Click to tweet
Well-being programs are more than a perk, or a nice-to-have. It’s better to think of your program as an investment in the future of your company. Employees with a sense of well-being are more productive, less prone to absenteeism, more likely to stay with your company and be an advocate for the company culture.
The tools and resources on this page can help you round out your well-being program to make it comprehensive, personalized, and strategically designed for success.
In order for your employee well-being program to truly make a difference, it must inspire sustained behavior change over time. Too many wellness and well-being programs rely on providing information, such as dietary advice or sample exercise regimens.
People already know how to eat more healthily. They know that exercise and the right amount of sleep will make them feel better. The challenge is not informational, it’s helping employees establish new behavior habits. This requires a holistic, comprehensive and long-term program.
“We have known for some time that there is a direct relationship between wellness and engagement. The most engaged people experience a sense of being well, which is a better term to use than wellness because being well is active. We also know that the most engaged employees experience a deep sense of flow which connects all four aspects of one’s being and doing - relationships, work, play and spiritual - into a single unified purpose.
We can call this our life-work journey and it connects into our very being - who we are. Life-work gives us a powerful reason for getting up in the morning to contribute our unique strengths to a cause for good; collaborating and connecting with others as part of a community of belonging and purpose.
What we are describing here are the factors which engage us to be well intrinsically from inside-out: i.e. from our heart first, then our head. But most managers have been taught to engage people extrinsically - outside in - from the head and not the heart and to focus on work as isolated from the other aspects of our life-work. In the future of work, progressive companies will design their wellness programs to engage their people from the heart in their life-work - inside out.” Click to tweet