Corporate wellness has become an essential aspect of the new workplace – organizations are recognizing its importance and investing more money and time in corporate wellness programs. Corporate wellness is defined as any activity or organizational policy that is designed to encourage healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes – this includes physical, emotional, career, social, and financial well-being.
The importance of employee wellness came to the fore when research found that employees who were thriving in overall well-being had 41% lower health-related costs to the employers as compared to employees who were struggling with overall well-being. Organizations with low career well-being were less likely to retain employees, with a disengaging job found to be more psychologically distressing than no job. Further, employees who had higher social well-being at work (like having a best friend at work) were seven times more likely to be engaged with their work. Likewise, physical and financial well-being ensured more benefits to the employee and the employers. Overall, employee wellness benefitted the organization and the employee.
This is clearly indicative of the importance of employee wellness. It does take time to design employee wellness programs and policies, more so because what is construed as wellness is constantly evolving and growing. Its integration can occur in stages and can take time. What is important is to motivate both employees and employers in this direction.
How to Motivate Employees and Employers Towards Corporate Wellness?
- Creating a Work Environment that Promotes Wellness
To begin with, it would be important to recognize that corporate wellness is an organizational decision. A wellness-focused culture is very intentionally built. Designing appropriate corporate wellness programs and policies goes a long way in inculcating a wellness-centered culture. The focus here should be on creating a way of life that integrates wellness into every aspect of organizational practice, from leadership to policies to infrastructure.
One of the most effective ways to motivate employees towards wellness is through leadership – it is noted that the continued success of employee wellness programs does depend on constant support from the leadership. Leadership support facilitates a top-down approach to building a caring environment. When employees see their leaders taking stretch breaks, engaging in healthy habits, taking sufficient breaks from work, and looking after emotional health, they are more likely to engage in the same behaviors.
Some other suggestions for building an employee wellness culture include: offering flexibility around work schedules, establishing a health-focused environment (providing healthy food, encouraging employees and employers to take staircase instead of elevators, building walking trails in and around the office), and providing financial support to create a comfortable workspace in work-from-home arrangements. Some organizations are also exploring digital mental health apps to offer emotional support. Moreover, accessibility is important too. If the organization is arranging employee wellness programs, they must be at a time when employees are available to attend. Providing coverage or even paid release time can be helpful.
- Collaborative Approach to Wellness
For employees to be motivated to engage in employee wellness programs, it is important that these programs address their needs and the process is collaborative. The imposition of programs as mandatory and without consultation with employees will not be effective or beneficial to the employer or employee. One key solution around how to motivate employees to engage with wellness programs is making the process collaborative, such that employees’ needs are valued and they understand how they and the company stand to benefit from the program.
One way of doing this is to conduct surveys to assess aspects of health and wellness that are important to the employee and spaces wherein they would like more support. Surveys would also highlight aspects in which the employees do not require organizational assistance and it would be important to respect the same. A study focused on an employee wellness program conducted at a large university demonstrates the importance of needs assessment before program implementation.
Moreover, when the corporate wellness programs are collaborative, it also ensures that employees have a sense of clarity about the programs. Often, there are several barriers to availing of these programs, such as lack of awareness, lack of interest, and a general belief that they do not have any need for the program. By making it a collaborative process, employees know what the program entails, the benefits it offers, and ways to engage with it.
Along those lines, giving employees agency over the program can also be very effective. For instance, research suggests that employees prefer corporate wellness programs that allow them to get personalized exercises or diet counseling and one-on-one sessions accommodating for individ
ual differences rather than implementing a one-size-fit
s-all program. Digital mental health apps can be very beneficial in this regard, allowing for confidential, personalized access to emotional support.
Incentivizing employee wellness programs needs to be done with care. It is important to keep in mind that wellness programs must not become an opportunity for employers to exercise control over their employees, and must thus not be imposed forcefully. Incentivising can be helpful when the focus remains on the benefits of these programs for employers and employees. Monetary incentives can help jumpstart employees into wellness programs, while intrinsic incentives such as a sense of fulfillment and pride from participating in these programs can help in continuous engagement. Research suggests that personalized messages combined with monetary incentives can be an effective engagement strategy. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that engagement depends on how the corporate wellness programs are designed.
It is important that employee wellness programs are not performed as token gestures but as well-intended and deeply meaningful ways of building a wellness culture in the organization. Further, a holistic understanding of wellness is important too – it must encompass not only physical health but emotional, financial, and social health as well. Choosing the appropriate employee wellness program is key.
Wysa is amongst the most prominent companies offering corporate wellness programs to assist employers in establishing a culture of wellness. Wysa provides employees with an effective digital mental health app with a wide range of tools for physical and emotional support and can be a great investment for your organization. You can check out the services provided by Wysa by visiting us here.