Most of us now have some kind of understanding when it comes to our mental health and physical health, and what aspects of our lives can affect it.
In the past health and wellbeing wasn’t considered to be very important in the workplace, because most companies didn’t consider it a big priority. It wasn’t even until the 18th century that physicians even started talking about employee wellness in the context of the workplace! Even then, that was only the beginning of them looking at the repercussion’s of workers doing long hours of manual labour and what could be done to prevent these issues, crazy right?
Skip forward to the 20th century and we finally started to see some serious progress in terms of employee health and employee wellbeing. There was a big cultural shift that was focused around promoting health and fitness and large companies began to introduce employee wellness programs that focused on different mental health issues to support employees within the workplace.
Ok, so now we’re back in 2021 – and what a year it’s been! Wellbeing initiatives seem to have been introduced across the globe as more companies learn that encouraging employee wellbeing and being able to alleviate any work-related stress, as well as supporting employees outside of work, will have a big impact on the company as a whole. But after the challenging year, with companies fleeting between new remote teams and learning to adapt to a new workplace life, this might have been a wake-up call for employers to reconsider their wellbeing efforts.
In this post, you’ll learn about what employee wellbeing is, what makes a good wellbeing program and 10 of the top employee wellbeing programs that will help your health promotion and mental wellbeing.
What is Employee Wellbeing?
Well done for making the first steps to boosting your workplace wellbeing – we’re so happy you are here!
In the dictionary, wellbeing is defined as the
“state of being comfortable, health, or happy.”
Sounds simple right?
Wellbeing is actually a bit more complicated than that – but don’t panic!
When we look at wellbeing, we look at the different factors that can contribute to our overall state of mind. So, this can include our happiness, but it also looks at how we feel on a day-to-day basis. Wellbeing covers how satisfied we feel with our lives and how we function. Looking at wellbeing is a much better way of supporting people because it looks at the bigger picture.
Employee wellbeing is focused on looking at employee health and wellness and looking at how someone’s job can impact their overall health and happiness. This means taking on a more holistic approach, and figuring out the physical, social, psychological and environmental factors that could be influencing workplace wellbeing.
A recent study found that happy employees were 13% more productive but unfortunately it still seems like a lot of companies still haven’t grasped that successful employee wellbeing programs are the key to a successful business.
If you needed any more convincing to invest more time into employee wellbeing programs, here’s a list of 5 reasons that might change your mind from a recent report from Nuffield Health:
1. Organisations are 2.5 times more likely to be in the best performer list
2. Employees will be 8 times more likely to engage
3. Organisations are 3.5 times more likely to be creative
4. The organisation is 4 times less likely to lose talent annually
5. When reviewing 55 Wellness programs, it was found that there was an 82% reduction of sickness and a 33% reduced staff turnover
When starting to think about wellbeing initiatives that could boost employee engagement and help overall business performance, one of the biggest mistakes an organisation might make with their employee wellbeing is doing it on an ad-hoc basis without a proper strategy or plan in place. That’s why we’ve included some tips that should help you get started on a good employee wellbeing program.
What makes a good employee wellbeing program?
Over the years there have been different ways that companies have used to assess employee wellbeing to find out it is helping with employee engagement. One of the most efficient ones comes from PROWELL which has been used to assess employee wellbeing. It categorises employee wellbeing in the workplace into 3 main groups:
These are the biological and physical needs of your employees. This includes physical fitness.
These relate to the feeling of belongingness and love of your employees
These include feelings of security, esteem, cognitive needs, aesthetics, self-actualisation and transcendence.
Each of these 3 groups fall into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs to make it even easier to understand what should be considered when working on employee health and wellbeing. When you're starting to look at employee wellbeing within your organisation, it can be used as a checklist so you're adopting an an effective program that covers all bases.
Check out this graph that shows all the main groups and how they work together!
Each of these different needs have really been put through the worst of it in the last year! So let’s take a look at the top tips that will help you launch a successful company wide program.
4 Ways to launch a successful wellness program
1. Define company goals
Thinking about what you what to achieve and what business outcomes you'd like to see
with your employee wellbeing program is the best way to start. Whatever your reason, making changes to improve employee wellbeing and overall corporate wellness will have great benefits.
Here are some goals that you might be looking at achieving based on the challenges you face as an organisation:
· Increasing staff satisfaction
· Increasing staff morale
· Improving staff retention
· Increasing productivity
· Reducing absenteeism
· Fostering better relationships amongst staff and management
· Increasing communication
2. Get employee feedback
One of the best ways to find out how to take care of your employees is by finding out what their fears, needs, wants, concerns and problems are. Once you have these answers, you’ll be able to form an employee wellbeing program that actually aligns with the needs of your employees.
A simple way to get the answers you need is by conducting an email survey for your employees to fill in. This is a great first step to get some feedback without making employees have to share their feelings publicly, because everyone is different after all!
Here’s some ideas of open or scale questions you could include in your employee wellbeing program survey:
· I feel that I can reach out to my employer when I feel stressed or anxious
· Our company culture supports a balance between family and work life
· I find it difficult to bounce back after facing a problem
· Employee wellbeing is a priority at my company
· Working remotely makes me feel isolated and left out
· Name one way your employer could improve the wellbeing of its employees
3. Share the news of your new employee wellbeing program
There isn’t really much point going to the effort of launching a new wellness program for your employees if no one knows about it. The effectiveness of the new program completely relies on you being able to spread the word across the whole company.
Whether it’s by email, Slack, or whatever your main communication channel is, make sure you’re introducing any new employee wellness initiatives to the whole company. The organisation will be able to follow the news and make sure they benefit from your employee wellbeing efforts. Communication at this stage is absolutely vital to avoid leaving anyone out and having employees losing out on the benefits of your new health and wellbeing program.
4. Track the impact
Employee wellbeing programs have shown a huge improvement in employee productivity, but it’s important you keep track of your new wellbeing program so you can measure its effectiveness.
Here are five signs that will indicate if your employee wellness and wellbeing program is getting the results you wanted:
· Increased work output
· Reduced absences
· Reduced employee turnover
· Fewer healthcare expenses
· Overall increased employee morale and satisfaction
As more companies adopt effective employee wellbeing programs in a bid to make their employees feel valued, appreciated and ultimately improve their health and wellbeing, it’s worth taking a look at some large organisations that have been successful with their efforts.
10 Top Employee Wellbeing Programs
Google is the largest search engine in the world and certainly offers it’s employees an impressive array of wellness and wellbeing perks that are there to support its employees both in work and outside of work.
Not only have they been praised for introducing fun games and cool office spaces that make them leading the way in Employee Appreciation Ideas, Google also have some fantastic employee wellbeing policies.
Google lets there employees enjoy free healthy meals available at their on-site canteens and they regularly organise free cooking classes that bring team members together and work to make work relationships stronger.
In true Google style, some of their offices have their own gyms, fitness centres and even chiropractic, physical therapy and massage services – the dream!
2. National Health Service (NHS)
It would be bizarre if the NHS didn’t offer employee wellbeing programs to their staff, right? But thankfully they do, and their program aims to cover all aspects of wellbeing and supports mental health, physical and financial wellbeing.
They offer transport discount programs, such as Cycle to Work and season tickets. They go above and beyond for their employees by also offering money saving schemes on home and car insurance, as well as MOTs.
The NHS have done a great job at recognising that employees really value flexible working now more than they ever have before. Their employees can buy holiday days, top up their annual leave when they are running low and even save tax and National Insurance in the process.
Microsoft have an admirable employee wellbeing program that they share on their website, stating that:
“At Microsoft, we’re focused on bringing out the best I people, supporting their goals, allowing them to find deep meaning in their work.”
Their goal is “empowering their employees” and have a number of great employee wellbeing programs implemented in their company. Most recently, they’ve introduced a minimum of 12 weeks of paid family leave to support their employees outside of work. They also offer some of the most forward-thinking development and training opportunities for their employees to progress their careers.
Nike is one of the world’s leading sport and fitness clothing brands and has been praised for their health and wellbeing efforts.
To align with the company values, you can find weight rooms, yoga studios, a rock-climbing wall and an indoor swimming pool in their headquarter campus. They encourage their employees to stay health and fit through access to a wide range of on-site fitness and wellness facilities.
They also use evidence-based and measurable practices in the form of an Engagement and Wellbeing Survey to measure the level of engagement and experiences of their staff.
Netflix is the most successful streaming platform in the world and offers employee perks that align with their intended health and wellbeing program and sound incredible.
All of their salaried employees can take as much time as they want off.
Read that again…sounds good huh!
Holidays aren’t tracked because they believe this unique policy gives people flexibility to work in a way that suits their life the most. They also offer up to one year’s paid time off for new parents. With this kind of focus on flexible working, they’re really taking into account the different aspects of the lives of their employee’s and how they can impact their workplace wellness.
Asana are an online project and task management application that is designed to help companies organise, track and manage their work. They have been praised as having some of most unique and highly appreciated employee wellness initiatives.
Asana are one of the few companies who offer their employees space to rest, re-charge and destress. Their wellbeing program also includes daily yoga, in-house massage and reiki as well as free gym membership.
After being described as “the happiest office in London” by Insider, online travel company Expedia had to make the list.
This year they announced they’re offering their workers the chance to book an exclusive number of luxury two week ‘Work from Here’ trips for only $20.20 each. The aim is to treat their employees with the opportunity to upgrade their work from home backdrop after months spent making the most of kitchen tables and bedroom dressing tables.
Now that’s the kind of employee appreciation we like to see!
Employees at Expedia also get a Wellness Allowance that can range between £400 and £1,2000. It could be spent on fitness-related items including trainers for running, a gym membership or a yoga mat – whatever takes your fancy!
A business management consulting company, Accenture are nailing the employee wellbeing game. They base their wellbeing approach around four pillars: healthy heart and lungs; wrist, core and spine; nutrition, hydration and digestion; and sleep and mental health.
Their competitive and advance wellness strategy means that not only do their employees benefit from health assessments, subsidised gym memberships and confidential counselling, they also offer a number of initiatives to help with health awareness and prevention.
Bupa are healthcare experts, so they have to be able to practice what they preach when it comes to employee wellbeing. Luckily for them, they have a great system in place.
They have their own global health and wellbeing program called Smile that helps “people bring the very vest of themselves to the workplace and to feel great generally.”
Smile activities are tailored across each location all over the world but aims to be a resilience-building approach to help people maintain optimum energy levels and better manage everyday pressures of work and life.
Hilton is an internationally recognised hospitality company who have done well with their employee wellbeing efforts.
Their focus is on employee wellbeing in mind, body and spirit through their initiative launched in 2017 called Thrive@Hilton . Aimed at everyone across the business, Thrive@Hilton is about helping team members feel more focused, resilient and optimistic about their work. It prompted loads of wellbeing projects including health-orientated pop-ups, wellness days and even flu clinics.
What have we learned about employee wellbeing programs?
If you take anything away from this blog post, it should be that employee wellbeing programs won’t work unless you get to know your employees. Introducing a wellness program is an effective way to improve corporate wellness and can result in better outcomes in:
- Employee productivity
- Employee happiness
- Employee health