Liz Sheffield

Leverage Employee Well-Being to Improve Performance

When employee well-being first entered the corporate spotlight, many organizations saw wellness programs as a bonus offering — nice to have, and maybe something that could reduce insurance costs — but little more. But today’s business leaders acknowledge that wellness programs can bring profitability because of their ability to make employees healthier, more focused and more productive. More than 90 percent of business executives said encouraging wellness may have a positive impact on employee productivity, the Society for Human Resource Management reports.

Some executives may still question how well-being efforts such as mindfulness or meditation can contribute to an organization’s strategic advantage. With that in mind, it’s wise to take a strategic approach to making well-being a reality in your workplace.

Use Employee Well-Being to Your Strategic Advantage

As you look at creating a well-being program initiative, make a plan to gather data that helps to quantify the potential results. As one example illustrates, collecting data helps explain the strategic advantages employee well-being can bring to a business: A global program manager in the financial services industry brought a meditation program to her organization. Initially, she gathered general feedback from participants but followed up with a survey to collect quantitative data about the program. Respondents indicated that the program:

  • Reduced stress and led to better stress management skills (66 percent of respondents)
  • Improved self-management at work (63 percent)
  • Helped employees better manage peer relationships (52 percent)
  • Increased innovation and creativity (46 percent)

All of these improvements have the potential to boost performance and positively impact business results. Gathering quantitative data helps build a case for the value that corporate wellness programs deliver.

Make Employee Well-Being a Reality in Your Workplace

In addition to a strategic approach, corporate wellness programs require stakeholders who support the initiative, a core committee that helps shape the program and a strong plan for implementation. As you begin crafting your wellness initiative, focus on the following three key pillars.

  1. Involve employees. Ask what kind of programs your staff wants, then look for programs that meet those needs. Wellness offerings include everything from exercise classes to mindfulness centers to financial education. Gathering employee input and vetting programs before they launch will help increase the likelihood that employees will participate and fully engage with more elements of the program. Offering options that allow for individual preferences — such as fitness programs for the marathon runner as well as the couch-to-5k participant — will also help engage more employees.
  2. Create convenience. As you’re soliciting input from employees, ask when, where and how they want to participate. Do your best to remove any barriers to participation. For example, offer programs at times and locations that are convenient for employees — and consider adding options that don’t require meeting in person so that remote employees can participate. If the program’s activities aren’t free, make sure they’re affordable.
  3. Inspire and motivate. Adopting new habits and embracing wellness can be a significant change for employees. As such, corporate wellness programs should be inclusive and encouraging, not punitive. Ensure that your offerings are well-publicized and look for ways to recognize participants for their efforts. Think about introducing team competitions to elevate interest or awards for the employee who attends the most sessions. Make it a goal to inspire employees to take action to improve their well-being.

Employers today use wellness programs not only to address insurance costs but also to drive results through a workforce that’s revitalized, productive and well — physically, mentally and in so many other ways.

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