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Why Wellbeing Should Be at the Top of Your Priority List

Your Organization’s Wellbeing Program Does More than Just Save Money

Is your wellness program operating in a silo? Traditionally wellness programs have been positioned as a healthcare cost-saving solution, evident by only self-funded clients adopting programs in the early 2000s and the majority of companies offering these programs to employees only covered on the health plan.

Employers have since recognized that there are advantages to offering wellness programs to all employees; even if you are fully insured. Typically, those opposing wellness in a fully insured environment argue there is a lack of data available to benchmark the health of your population and to measure the impact of your program. If a major incentive to roll out a wellness program is to save money on your health plan, but you are not able to measure cost savings tied back to the program, why bother? Further, even if there were savings realized as a result of employees reducing their health risk, the savings were going into the pocket of the medical carrier.

The Current State of Wellness

The industry has shifted to a more holistic focus on wellness, recognizing that these programs can have a greater impact on your employee population beyond simply saving money on your plan. A program centered on employee wellbeing can impact more than just healthcare costs:

  • Employee engagement
  • Morale
  • Productivity
  • Workplace injury
  • Customer care

With so many potential benefits as a result of employee wellbeing, it no longer makes sense to keep your program in a silo. There is greater opportunity when the program is aligned directly with an organization’s goals.

Align Health & Wellbeing Goals with Your Organization’s Goals

Measure the success of your wellbeing program by how the strategy is contributing to the success of your organization. If your company is focused on growth, design your program to respond to resources and activities that your employees want and value.

Offer initiatives to enhance the work environment and company culture. Once you’ve established a successful program, you can showcase program success and overall improved workplace culture by applying for rewards and gaining recognition as a healthy employer or best place to work. Your wellbeing program can also be a vehicle to connect employees across multiple locations, demographics or job types through friendly competitions. If your workforce is not the type to respond to a wellbeing program, disguise your efforts as employee engagement or workplace safety. In the end, all of these programs are trying to accomplish the same things.

Position your health & wellbeing program to solve for your company’s key business objectives. Once you have identified your goals, evaluate the tactics you have in place to see that they tie back to your goals. Any initiatives that are not connected to your goals may need to be discontinued, or your goals may need to be modified. If you have goals in place without any solutions, you may want to expand your health & wellbeing initiatives.

Below are four vital elements to focus on when creating or enhancing your workplace wellbeing program:

  1. Culture

    The company culture is made up of a set of unwritten rules that influence the way people conduct themselves in the work environment. Culture change is difficult to measure but can have a tremendous impact on the success of any wellness program initiative as well as overall employee engagement, presenteeism, and turnover. The first step to improving the company culture is to understand the current state and establish what an ideal company culture looks like for your particular organization. Culture can be influenced by policies, performance metrics, communication between leadership and employees, and management.

  2. Employee Value Proposition

    The solution is simple. Offer programs your employees want and value. The tricky part is gathering this information. Often, if there is low morale, lack of trust, or poor communication tactics in place, a traditional online survey won't work. Be prepared to address the broader question; how do you create an environment where employees feel their opinion matters? What are the barriers to employees providing feedback? Is it a communication barrier? Is it gaining online access when a portion of your workforce is in the field? Is there a lack of confidentiality? No support from mid-level managers? Once you’ve determined the programs that employees find valuable, you can tailor your plan to align with these.

  3. Productivity and Presenteeism

    Health & wellbeing factors that contribute to productivity issues and presenteeism often include poor management of chronic conditions or stress related to any area of wellbeing including physical, social/emotional, financial, career and community. Consider offering resources for employees to better manage physical health and support employees and their families in the areas of wellbeing.

  4. Employee Engagement & Wellbeing

    This is a critical step in making progress towards any other organizational goals and objectives. Employee engagement and total wellbeing are highly correlated and result in happier, healthier and more productive employees. Additionally, employee engagement results in better customer service, increased loyalty to the company, reduced turnover and better participation and outcomes related to any other initiative in place.

Organizational goals are often intertwined and tactics to improve one area, often result in positive improvements in others. The fundamental strategy of a wellbeing program rests on uncovering employee desires and perceptions and making sure those are a part of your company’s offerings.

For more on addressing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace read: Mental Health Experiences and Attitudes in a New World of Work