Today’s workforce is not only looking for innovative and engaging work cultures, it is an expectation. Glassdoor revealed that 87% of employees have an expectation that their employer will support them in the balance of work and personal commitments; implementing effective wellness initiatives is at the crux of this. Millenials in particular consider benefits like health and wellness programs as deciding factors in whether to take a job, or even remain in a company.
In the past, employee engagement and wellness have been seen as separate from business strategy and success. It is now gaining recognition that an intimate relationship exists between poor employee health and a deficit of productivity and the bottom line. It is increasingly important that the business world sees employee engagement and wellness as inseparable. Research by the American Psychological Association confirmed that 89% of workers at companies that show a commitment to well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend that company as a good place to work. The extended impact of this was explored in a study by Oxford University’s Said Business School, where they found that workers are 13 percent more productive when happy. Overall satisfaction is an element of wellness that goes beyond the view of wellness as simply fitness or nutrition.
When choosing to adopt an evolved wellness program, HR must consider a principal factor at hand- connection. For example, individuals who share a common interest often work better together or share a similar motivation or mindset. Organizational wellness is an opportunity to expand upon the often coincidental connections that occur, i.e. Team Member A notices Team Member B has the same sports watch or favorite artist. By integrating a shared interest into the very culture of a company, it is easier to foster camaraderie and productivity.
92 percent of U.S. companies currently have a wellness budget, yet only achieve 9 percent engagement in wellness programs. What’s the problem? The disconnect lies in the archaic, one-size-fits-all approach of many existing wellness programs. Wellness is a complex and multi-dimensional concept, meaning several factors like nutrition, fitness and mental health should be considered in both design and implementation for employees. Many programs are targeting only one factor in a service-based approach instead of as a tool.
There is also an added challenge of integrating a tool for companies that have multiple sites- a financial and logistical nightmare for many HR departments. If an HR department can shift their wellness focus from providing a standard service to providing employees options around connection and wellness, there can be real change. Often the success of wellness programs is measured in KPI’s around enrollment, instead of true engagement between employees and wellness. It will be increasingly important to see how employees are connecting with each other through wellness. An interesting way to measure success in a wellness program will be to examine communication and engagement in the program. HR departments must invest in programs proven to create conversation and community around wellness.
The more employees engage in wellness together, the stronger the bonds are for work productivity and the sense of a united company culture. Highly-valued qualities of company culture include challenging, fun, flexible, inclusive and rewarding. It is therefore important to avoid a siloed approach to any aspect of company culture, especially wellness. Wellness is a team-building tool- it can be used to motivate employees through friendly competition and breaking out of the traditional work routine. Wellness becomes an exciting choice instead of an obligation. As employees feel more positive about their connection to each other and the company through wellness, a shift in the culture occurs and encourages retention of participation in wellness programs and ultimately, investment in their work.