Employee Engagement

Why Your Company Needs an Employee Wellness Culture

by: | August 18, 2017

There’s no sugarcoating it: employee engagement is in crisis. Unhappy, disengaged employees cost North American employers between $350 billion and $550 billion per year.

Employee engagement goes far beyond fancy offices and fun perks. So what’s missing?

Times have changed. People are looking for a fun, meaningful, motivating work experience – an employee wellness culture. Advances in technology and multi-generational teams have redefined the modern workplace in major ways.

Despite this new reality, most companies aren’t thinking about the full picture when it comes to employee engagement. They fail to account for what employees want the most: overall quality of life.

Innovative companies, on the other hand, have discovered that creating a culture of wellness is a big part of cracking the employee engagement puzzle to foster quality of life. Workplace wellness programs are a win-win for both employees and organizations. In fact, it’s estimated that well-designed programs lead to an ROI up to $3 for every dollar spent.

Great companies are built by great people. Health is personal and multifaceted—people need to be in good physical, mental and social health to function at their best.

To stay competitive when hiring great talent and to move the needle on current employee engagement, organizations must think beyond simply satisfying regulatory components or addressing physical health, alone. Changing times and evolving expectations call for employers to think holistically about wellness, quality of life and employee experience.

That means fostering a company culture that prioritizes wellbeing by championing all components of wellness—physical, mental, financial and social.

Workplace Wellness: The Missing Piece in Employee Engagement

“[Wellness is] just as important as sales and marketing… [and] just as important as customer service,”

– Jason Lang, team lead for workplace health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Traditional wellness programs have come a long way from focusing on the sickest people and measuring ROI solely based on medical costs.

Wellness 2.0, as it’s been dubbed, aims to improve wellbeing by encouraging good habits, social connection, emotional health, job satisfaction and more—all within a supportive work environment.

Put simply, an employee wellness culture embraces quality of life and seeks to help people thrive. It embeds wellness into everything an organization does — from health benefits to signage to tools that empower employees to take charge of their own health, all while giving leaders the feedback they need to continually improve outcomes.

Some follow a model of wellness culture that includes five essential components:

  1. Shared values – Wellness is a priority throughout the company.
  2. Cultural norms – Healthy behaviors, like exercising or eating well, are encouraged.
  3. Touch points – Social mechanisms, like feedback, resources and training, that influence norms.
  4. Peer support – People help one another achieve their health goals.
  5. Climate – There is a sense of community and high moral.

Taken together, these factors foster a wellness-conscious workplace that provides the foundation on which wellness initiatives can be successful and, as a result, improve business outcomes.

Why Now is the Time for a Culture of Health

Multiple industry trends influence the shift toward cultures of wellness.

Transparency

Websites like Glassdoor, Indeed and LinkedIn provide easy access to information about an organization’s culture and benefits.

Smart, savvy candidates (you know, the kind you want) do their homework. They research employers before applying or interviewing. Maintaining a positive brand and reputation is increasingly important if you want to attract the best talent.

The Human Workplace

Modern workplaces are more collaborative and flexible. They put people at the center. Today employees value shared spaces to eat, work and play together.

Employees want to know they will be supported to be their best both at the workplace and in their personal life.

The Changing Workforce

Matching benefits to best serve your workforce demographics is not a new concept, but it is more important than ever. This means accounting for remote and international team members when designing programs.

Also keep in mind shifting expectations and needs among generations. While millennials value flexibility and options, Gen-Xers and baby boomers may have higher medical costs and caring for aging parents on their minds.

Technology

In a world where everyone manages their lives from smartphones, employers should consider providing mobile, responsive, on-demand access to services. Now is the time to modernize your benefits.

Flex spending accounts, out-of-pocket cost calculators, and web-based coaching are other ways to leverage technology that creates a well-rounded experience that addresses multiple areas of employee wellbeing.

The Benefits of a Wellness Culture are Clear

A health-minded culture is not only beneficial to each team member, but it can also improve your bottom line by helping you solve the employee engagement puzzle.

It boosts engagement. Nearly 90 percent of employees participating in wellness programs reported improved fitness and overall happiness. In fact, Optum’s 2016 Wellness in the Workplace survey found 64 percent of employers with a wellness culture reported higher employee satisfaction.

Prioritizing employee health and happiness pays off. The impact of wellness programs is overwhelming positive. Nearly 80 percent of employers surveyed by RANDsay wellness initiatives decreased absenteeism and boosted productivity, while a majority reported it also reduced their medical costs.

Your employees deserve better

The workplace has changed. Employee expectations have changed and employers are realizing the benefits of not only improving corporate culture, but the overall employee experience as well.

Want to build a best-in-class employee experience? We can help. Download our Employee Engagement eBook today.

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