One of the most important things in anyone's life is health. If you have your health, then you can enjoy other things. But poor health prevents you from participating fully in all the things you're doing, and that includes work as well as your personal life.
So if you want your employees to be performing as well as they possibly can, you have to encourage them to be healthy, both physically and mentally. This is the reason why more companies are beginning to focus on corporate wellness.
Wellness can include many things:
It's not enough to just give your employees the opportunity to be healthy. You also need to give them more information about how to be healthy:
We all want to be healthy but we're often missing information about how to be that way. There are people who don't know what a balanced diet consists of. They don't know that they need to eat more carbohydrates and proteins and less fats. They don't know that they should try to eat fruits and veggies at every meal. A workshop which teaches people what a balanced diet consists of and also gives them some healthy recipes can really help to change someone's life. It will give them the tools needed to be healthy.
A lot of people also lack information about fitness. Most of us don't know how to lift weights in a safe, effective manner. Many people start lifting weights with incorrect form and injure themselves, which demoralizes and prevents them from trying weights again in the future. Some people start trying to jog full-speed without realizing that you have to build up to that level. Fitness requires expertise and this is what you can offer your employees in the form of workshops, trainers, classes etc.
The other element of health and fitness is motivation. A lot of people fail in their attempts to be healthy and fit because they're unmotivated. Putting together a healthy meal with fresh ingredients takes work. It's so much easier to just go to the closest McDonald's and buy a burger.
And when it comes to fitness, motivation is the main thing that's missing for most people. It's a lot easier to settle down in front of the TV than it is to get up and go to the gym or for a yoga class.
As companies everywhere seek to boost morale, retain talented employees, and strike a positive work/life balance, corporate wellness is more important than ever. But "wellness" means more than just staying active and eating a balanced diet. In Optum's 2017 survey of 240 human resource departments across the nation, researchers discovered a shift towards expanding corporate wellness programs towards a more holistic approach. In addition to physical health, this expanded approach takes employees' mental and financial health into consideration. So far, the results are promising.
Mental health programs are one alternative way to boost wellness. Although the stigma of mental illness still lingers, an estimated one in five Americans will experience some form of it in their lives. And according to the Partnership for Workplace for Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Foundation, untreated cases of depression cost companies as much as $44 billion in lost productivity.
The Affordable Care Act ensures that private and individual health plans offer minimum mental health coverage, but there's more that companies can do for their people. Employers can and should go beyond the minimum requirements to furnish a full range of mental health and wellness benefits.
a) For example, an employee assistance program, or EAP, is designed to help employees resolve personal issues like marital strife, substance abuse, or mental illness-- anything that might cause distress or distraction at work. This program, typically open to the employee's immediate family, can provide direct, discreet access to mental health professionals. In most cases, this program is operated through a third-party administrator to ensure confidentiality.
b) Some companies also promote taking mental health days in addition to regular vacation time or sick leave. Just as it's appropriate to take a day off for the flu or a fever, it's appropriate to take a day off when mental illness symptoms flare. Letting workers take care of mental health and rest when they're not feeling their best helps them to come back more motivated and productive than ever.
c) When possible, flexible schedules and work-from-home days are a good supplement to the occasional mental health day. The option to work from home or set their own hours gives workers the freedom to work around bad days or appointments with a therapist. That way, employees can manage their mental health and schedule in a way that makes sense for them.
With a whopping 57 percent of employees reporting they were "very" or "somewhat" stressed about their finances in 2017, offering financial wellness benefits is a way towards a more well-adjusted workforce. When employees aren't stressed about their finances, they're happier, healthier, and more productive.
In fact, one study shows that financial wellness programs are a top priority for HR departments nationwide, with at least half of employers surveyed actively building a program and tools for their workers.
Most of these programs are designed around retirement planning so that employees can get the most out of their 401(k) plans. Though this retirement plan is a common benefit, not all employees understand how retirement savings work or how much they should save to live comfortably after retirement.
Nearly 25% of companies offer "lunch and learn" sessions on topics like how to budget for retirement savings, the importance of saving early, and how to make smart investment choices.
Other companies build on those workshops with personal financial planning sessions that might teach employees how to manage debt, build credit, and apply for a mortgage.
Financial security is a powerful factor in overall well-being. Employees who understand how to budget and save responsibly will be less distracted, more focused on work, and more contented overall.
Go beyond physical initiatives to help employees manage stress and become more productive. A holistic approach to health ensures a happy, dedicated, and loyal workforce for years to come.
Photo Credit: HRMagazine