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How to build the best employee wellness program

Your employee wellness can directly impact how well your team and company perform 🧘‍♀️🏃‍♂️🤸‍♂️ Don’t miss one of the most important aspects of a great #EmployeeExperience. We've put together this post for you to learn how to jump-start your employee wellness program.

26 Mar 2021 by Rocco Brudno

Teams in 2020 have faced an unbelievable uphill battle to adapt and overcome obstacles thrown their way. From COVID forcing teams to transition to working remotely to maintaining positive physical and mental health. And no surprise, teams expect their employers to foster and support employee wellness, even more so for remote workers.

Leaders need to set an example for their team and encourage positive practices for their team’s well-being. Building the best employee wellness program doesn’t need an HR expert—you just need to care about your team and start from a positive place.

Our experts have created this guide for you to build the best employee wellness program from anywhere, for any team. We’ve also noted any time a method may work better remotely or in-person as well.

Why is employee wellness important?

An aspect brought to light by employee experience is the validation that happy employees = happy customers. Support your team by offering positive employee wellness is crucial to maintaining high employee engagement.

How can building an employee wellness program benefit your business? Well:

According to this article on Forbes by Executive Coach and CEO, Naz Beheshti, she found that:

  • 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes.
  • Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year.
  • 31% of employees report extremely high levels of stress at work.
  • 70% of employers have improved their physical environments to encourage healthy behaviors.

And from Gallup, we have these metrics tied to employee satisfaction researched by Jim Harter and Annamarie Mann:

  • Highly engaged teams see a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.
  • These same teams see as much as a 21% increase in profitability.

The numbers speak for themselves—employee wellness can positively impact your business or hurt if you’re lacking it. There are several ways to offer an employee wellness program, but it all starts with communication.

Talk about employee wellness

Communication is the first key to unlocking an effective employee wellness program. Talk with your team, find out how they’re doing personally and professionally.

Some great conversation starters are:

  • What’s new in your life?
  • How has your mood been this week?
  • How is your family doing?
  • What’s something your passionate about lately?

It’s also important to ask your team what they want or think would improve their wellness. Sometimes this can be simple like scheduling walking meetings or sometimes it’s more complex like beefing up your health care provisions.

Communication also means explaining to your team the benefits of an employee wellness program. This can help build excitement and increase engagement for your team.

Better in-person: Sometimes it’s difficult to get in-person time to chat with your team. If your office is open, swinging by unannounced can make it tricky if an employee is in the middle of a project. Try being considerate and asking them to lunch or finding some free time in their day to catch up.

Better remote: Zoom and Slack make it easy to stay in touch with your team. You can schedule reminders for yourself to chat with them, and send friendly gifs and emojis to make conversations fun.

💡 Pro Tip: For a complete list of communication solutions, check out our article on the best tools for working remotely. It covers the best software and hardware for remote teams to use in 2020. And everything on the list has been thoroughly proven by our team.

Foster positive physical and mental employee wellness

When looking strictly at health, you’ll want to separate physical and mental, without making either appear less relevant than the other.

Mental health

Following COVID-19’s impact on the global workforce in 2020, mental health is starting to get some recognition as a component of employee wellness programs. Looking at your staff, consider how their day-to-day roles operate.

Staring at a computer screen for long periods with little social interaction can be taxing on anyone. Working from home also means having to work with the distractions of everyday life (we know how easy a 🛏 nap is when you’re already home).

Mental health has long been stigmatized in the workplace because of social implications. But now is the perfect time to push for positive mental health with teams transitioning to remote work.

Some great positive mental health offerings for an employee wellness program are:

  • Guided daily or weekly meditations with the team
  • Scheduling weekly 1:1’s with team members and their managers to “check-in.”
  • Work with your health care provider to set up mental health counseling for your team.
  • Offer virtual therapy sessions for your remote staff every month.
  • Create a “quiet zone” in the office where team members can work distraction-free.

These are just some places to start. Chatting with your team could help you discover even better ideas to improve their mental health.

Better remote: Thanks to platforms like YouTube and Spotify, you have access to thousands of podcasts and video series on meditation or relaxation techniques. You can send your team channels you think would be beneficial to them, or ask them what they’d like to try. Best of all, they can access these on their schedule, making it easier for them to unwind when it works for them.

Better in-person: Making sure everyone takes regular screen breaks throughout the day can help improve mental health. We’ve even seen success with offices that have games to play that help distract the mind. A quick game of ping-pong or round of smash bros. can take the stress out of anyone’s day.

Physical health

Physical health can be hard to improve because, like mental health, everyone has different needs. Discovery will always be step one. But there are some great places to start that anyone will benefit from.

Some positive physical health offerings include:

  • Setting aside time for physical activity during the workday (ie. lunch walks, 10min stretches every hour, etc.).
  • Encourage consistent water consumption throughout the day.
  • Schedule reminders for your staff to get medical screenings, check-ups, and other annual visits.
  • Bring in a massage therapist to the office and offer everyone a 15-30min massage.
  • Create a healthy food program with a nutritious snack and/or meal option for your team or a budget/tab for them to grab a meal on the company.
  • Provide auxiliary benefits for health and fitness such as memberships to a gym, yoga or spin studio, or even club sports.

As with mental health, this list isn’t exhaustive but rather a good place to start. If you already have a healthcare provider for your company, working with them will help guide you to the right place.

Better remote: Being remote means your team will have to get creative. Whether it’s taking their dog for a mid-day walk, or just getting up and moving around, physical activity can go a long way. Setting a group slack reminder to make sure everyone’s drinking enough water helps too!

Better in-person: Physical activity in-office can be as simple as buying some yoga balls and mats for everyone to use. You can get deep into it with “ride a bicycle to work” days or ordering lunch with nutritionally packed food (we’ve all seen Popeye’s arms. Spinach works 🥬💪).

Mentoring, training, and continuous learning opportunities

One of the biggest opportunities employers routinely miss is offering continuous learning opportunities for their employees to grow. By improving your staff’s mental health through knowledge resources, you’ll enable them to operate at their best.

Continuous learning can be fun mentoring sessions over coffee or lunch and learn programs with different departments. You can offer a monthly book club or set up an office (or virtual) library. You can host staff outings to hike, run, camp, or have a real camp fire-side chat.

Employee wellness combines many aspects of what great training programs offer the employee experience. Learning keeps the mind sharp, the skillset diverse, and shows your team you value them. And that helps them grow to become and stay engaged employees for life.

Better remote: The best way to engage remote employees is through online training. Platforms make it the easiest thing to deliver knowledge to remote teams. You’ll be able to offer them powerful resources to maximize their ability to perform. Offering certificates to show recognition is a great way to build engagement with remote employees. Even with in-person offices, online training platforms make delivering continuous learning easy and simple.

Fun perks to improve employee wellness

Lastly, we have those crazy perks that draw the attention of every new hire to your company. These perks are one of the many reasons that cause millennials and Gen Z job hopping. Employee wellness can be so many things to a team, but these are some extravagant perks your team will love and appreciate.

Fun perks for employee wellness can include:

  • Spotify, Apple Music, or other music platform subscription plans.
  • Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon, or Disney+ subscription.
  • Annual or bi-annual retreats for your team to relaxation destinations.
  • Generous paid leave time that isn’t accrued.
  • Flexible work from home or working remote options.
  • Annual career advancement opportunities.

Some of these aren’t crazy but will go a long way toward improving your employee wellness offerings. You can get creative with what you offer your team, so long as your goal is to try and improve their lives. Because as we’ve said above:

Happy employees = happy customers

We hope this gave you some great ideas on where to start building or improving your employee wellness program.

For even more tips and guidance on how to get started creating a powerful and engaging employee experience for your team, chat with us today. Our experts can offer all the support you’ll need to drive employee engagement and grow your team at scale.

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