June is National Employee Wellness Month. Why should you care? Workplace Wellness improves on-the-job time utilization, decision making and productivity. It improves employee morale. Reduces turnover. Improves disease management and prevention, and creates a healthier workforce in general, both of which contribute to lower health care costs.
So, in other words – supporting the well-being of your employees is not just a nice thing to do. It’s great for business in so many ways! Imagine the difference in the service provided between a staff who feels good, versus one that is struggling with their health.
Usually employers think first or only of physical activity when they consider an employee wellness initiative. Sometimes they throw in nutrition too. I’ve seen Employee Wellness Day celebrated by having a walk and replacing the usual cookies in the break room with fruit cups. While these are nice gestures, they do nothing to support behavior change or impact the health of their employees.
There are 8 dimensions that make up our well-being. They include:
This, combined with the fact that a one day event cannot effect change, is why I’m happy that National Employee Wellness has shifted from one day to a whole month. Companies who care about their employees take it to the next level by giving workplace wellness attention throughout the whole year.
Creating a Workplace Wellness Program
With eight dimensions to choose from, there are literally thousands of things you can do to support the well-being of your team members. Most people want to jump to the fun part – the programming. Providing meaningful programming that meets the needs of your staff is obviously super important. However, in order to be successful it’s smart to take these steps first:
- Make it a Priority. Before anything else happens, the leader or leaders need to decide that employee wellness is important. This isn’t just a matter of “getting buy-in”. It’s really caring about the well-being of your entire team. If it connects in some way to your company values, even better! Without this foundation, any program implemented will become a flavor-of-the-month and will go away as soon as the next trend pops up.
- Establish a United Front. If one or two leaders are the passion behind this initiative, then the next step is to get the entire leadership team on board. There are tons of statistics out there on why employee wellness makes great business sense. In addition, done well, this is one of the best ways to show your employees that you genuinely care about them as human beings. So whether you appeal to their business sense or their compassion, make the case and move forward as a united front.
- Talk Before Action. Once you’ve made the decision to create a workplace wellness initiative, start talking about it with your teams. Don’t come out of the gate with a big launch before you have engaged your people. Talk about your ideas and gather input. Consider forming an input team to learn about the challenges staff are facing and the kinds of programs they would like to see. This can be a great way to engage employees who are looking for a challenge and want to be more involved.
- Try different stuff. See what works. Doing some pilots to find out what kind of a response you would get might make sense for your company. Experiment with different formats, times, delivery methods, and levels of engagement. Continue to gather input to determine where to start with programming.
After you have built a solid foundation, you can begin thinking about the fun stuff – programming and launch events. As stated above, there are thousands of things you can do to promote wellness at work. A simple google search will give you more ideas than you know what to do with. Below I have listed some of the categories that programming can fall into. You may want to go down one path to start out with, or choose to implement ideas from several categories.
- Policies and Practices – As you get started, a review of your policies is a good place to begin. You may find that you have policies in place that make unhealthy choices the easy option. Some simple changes can have a big impact. Think about some of your commonly accepted practices. Are there opportunities to shake things up? Consider changing short meetings to “walk & talk” meetings. Or changing doughnut Friday to a once a month event rather than a weekly one.
- Awareness/Education – This can be anything from posters showing the benefits of taking the stairs to classes on financial management. Most doctors, chiropractors, eye doctors, and other clinicians love to educate. If you give them a platform, they will come out and speak. Often they will provide snacks, lunch or prizes.
- Classes – These can be on-going or single events. Draw from the talents and passions of your people. Have someone who teaches yoga? See if he would do 20-minute mini-classes for the staff. Know of someone who loves vision boards? Find out if she wants to lead a session for employees.
- Challenges – Everyone loves a challenge. These are usually on the honor system, but you can get as complex as you would like. Challenges can be around whatever you (and your employees) see as important. Tracking steps, glasses of water, gratitude, saving, and book reading are just a few ideas.
- Incentives – Providing a prize can be a good way to build excitement. Drawings for wearable trackers or gym membership can tie back to your overall program goals. Cash incentives are obviously very motivating, as are reductions in health insurance premiums for those meeting certain goals.
Last, but not least, you may want to plan a launch. One day events can be good for kicking off an initiative, making your commitment clear, and rallying support and excitement. You just need to be sure that the event is not your whole program.
Again, there are tons of ideas on how best to launch your initiative. The best option for your company is one that will be relevant to your people and get them excited about the investment you are committing to. Ensure that the focus is on helping people make positive and healthy changes that will produce long lasting results.
Don’t despair if you didn’t start an employee wellness initiative at the beginning of June! Your staff won’t care that you missed the first week or two (or the whole month all together). What they will care about is your commitment to supporting them on their healthy living journey.
Need help putting the pieces in place to support the well-being of your staff. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30-minute discovery call to discuss how I can help you create a culture that will grow your business and increase your impact!
Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofits and small businesses.