17 February 2023
Key Finding 1: Whole-Person Approach
Many companies encouraged physical fitness as part of daily life, and also include healthy eating education programs and affordable, healthy food options at work.
In the study, participants also prioritised mental health with convenient and affordable access to mental health services through Employee Assistance Programs, on-site mental health counseling and time off to attend outside counseling. Most addressed stigma through company podcasts, videos and newsletters.
Key Finding 2: Leadership Support
“Leadership commitment” is a top success element of wellness programs that contributes to a culture of health and greater buy-in across an organisation, as well as cultivates a supportive work environment. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that senior executives lead workplace wellness programs.
Given the critical role of executive leadership, more than half of the companies that were interviewed said their CEOs spoke about workplace wellness in employee communications, participated in company events and shared personal stories about their own wellbeing challenges.
Key Finding 3: Prioritise Workplace Culture
Studies show that workplace culture contributes to employee wellbeing by fostering belonging and meaningful relationships among co-workers and management, which is critical to job and life satisfaction.
Further, most participants said that employee wellbeing was central to their cultures. Most interviewees conducted annual employee wellbeing surveys to ensure employee feedback informs cultures, with half using more frequent pulse-type surveys and listening tours. One participant conducted annual surveys around engagement, mental health, work/life balance, manager support, learning and development, belonging and recognition.
Opportunities and Recommendations
- Strategic Planning and Measurement: It is recommended that workplace health programs take a coordinated, systematic, and comprehensive approach that includes strategic planning. Yet, the research shows that many organisations do not have a formal plan for their employee wellbeing programs, and only a few of the companies we studied measured employee health outcomes and business returns.
- Wellness programs should include written, formal plans that assign accountabilities for employee wellbeing outcomes and target business returns.
- Financial Wellbeing and Living Wages: Financial stress hurts employees’ mental and physical health and job performance. And given that 72% of employees are stressed about their personal finances, employers should conduct wage assessments to ensure that employees can meet basic living expenses, pay for emergencies, and save for the future.
- Corporate Purpose: If you were to survey your employees, you would definitely find that it is very important for companies to “make the world a better place. Most staff do believe that the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for large companies to focus on doing right by their workers, customers, communities, and the environment. Purpose should be part of employee wellbeing initiatives, and employers should take steps to help employees live their purpose at work. When employees feel that their personal purpose is aligned with their employer’s purpose, it can boost employee engagement and loyalty and foster a greater willingness to recommend the company to others.
- Elevating HR and workplace wellbeing: HR must persuade CEOs to expand their roles in leading workplace wellness. Because wellness overlaps with several company functions, wellness leaders require a broader span of influence to avoid organisational silos. This study suggests that HR requires more authority for making sweeping changes in designing company cultures, collaborating with customer service, and boosting a company’s reputation as a great place to work. For this to happen, HR must convince CEOs and boards to elevate employee wellbeing as a top business priority, building on evidence that whole-person employee wellbeing can help advance business objectives, such as lowering turnover and enhancing employee engagement.
The above findings are a first step in reframing workplace wellness from stand-alone programs to organisational initiatives.
This can ensure that wellness initiatives deliver what employees need while delivering both quick wins and long-term returns that help employers become more competitive.
Fit 4 Market referenced in this article