On a corporate level, changes are also drastic. If a year or even a couple of months ago, remote workers and freelancers sometimes needed to convince a manager they can be as productive as their office counterparts, now, we all embrace the change. Even the most old-fashioned employers have no other choice but to adapt to the new norm and welcome distributed teams. Forbes even called it the work-from-home revolution.
Besides the growing number of online alternatives, this time has brought financial hardships, a decline in so many spheres, and job losses. People address new challenges with cost-cutting strategies. House cleaning turned out to be a fun and powerful cardio exercises. Home-cooked meals are usually healthier and more nutritionally valuable for fewer dollars. This budget-friendly approach to wellness can be also applied on a corporate level.
Nobody knows when things will get back to normal, and will they. So, instead of waiting for a magical moment when you can once again open on-site facilities and throw a big team-building competition uniting all 50+ employees, we suggest a transformation. Online is the new norm, and from now on, employee wellness should be online too.
Much can be said about the benefits workplace wellness initiatives bring. Corporate wellness plans do help employees improve their health and quality of life. Most of the programs imply a comprehensive approach and tackle several issues at once. Taking proactive measures, many employees reduce their health risks and prevent the development of lifestyle diseases.
A year after the implementation of corporate wellness initiatives, a company will notice a drop in health-related costs and the number of hospital admissions. The absenteeism and presenteeism rates will go down. Soon enough, the program will start to pay for itself and show a positive ROI.
The healthier workforce shows better results in terms of performance, has a healthier dynamic in the team. The company hits higher rates of employee satisfaction and retention and has better employer branding. All of those perks are interconnected, and sometimes it's hard to say what exactly triggers the other. To learn more about the science behind those words, check our article on 10 research-based reasons to incorporate an employee health and wellness program.
Offline wellness days, challenges, or health-oriented team-building take days and weeks to organize. It requires time to coordinate the guests, find a place, inform everyone at the company, and come up with a day that is suitable for everyone. These corporate wellness events usually end within one day without any sustainable results and further progress tracking, while taking too much time out of a working week.
One more drawback of the on-site wellness workshops is the lack of tools to monitor implementation of the discussed techniques. Employees are left with information, and employer miss instruments to monitor whether employees used it or not.
While all online wellness platforms provide pre-designed programs. All a company needs to do is to customize the event to meet employees' needs and comply with the overall strategy. Starting an online challenge, from the very beginning, an employer has all tools and materials in one place. Informing the teams, tracking the results, and distributing incentives are all one click away and don't take too much time.
Let's count what it takes to organize an outdoor fitness class for the whole company. First, you need to find an instructor. Then ensure that everyone willing to participate has a yoga mat or other equipment. As the day is set, the HR team starts to promote the event to include as many employees as possible. Because a high participation rate is a key to the program’s success. In the end, the event brings positive results and makes its contribution to the long process of behavioral changes. But the same results could be achieved at a smaller price. And if we take as an example an event that requires a venue, the price will soon go up.
Organizing an event for a large-scale company is an overwhelming and challenging experience. It's hard to ensure not only the presence of all the employees but the actual engagement of every single one of them. And considering the current situation, a company must be very selective with the number of employees taking part in an offline event.
Besides, some employees may be not that comfortable to workout with colleagues and feel intimidated by the more athletic team-members. As a result, those employees will skip all offline workouts. For some beginners, it's more appealing to do a workout at the comfort of their home where no one is looking and judging.
Another challenge presented by an activity relying on the physical presence is location. On-site events aren't inclusive of the distributed teams or individual remote workers. That can further increase the feeling of isolation and separation from the rest of the company common for the remote workers.
The answer is simple: doing nothing has a high cost. Changes in the day-to-day regiment never come easy, especially changes you neither predicted nor anticipated. And even employees who didn't face a reduction in salary or job loss are stressed about uncertainty and worried about their loved ones. And as it was stated so many times, stress and anxiety have a significant impact on physical and mental well-being. Constant worries drain the energy level, often affect sleep, leaving fewer resources to focus on work and come up with creative solutions. Stress affects relations with colleagues and customers. That's why it's not a matter of going online or doing nothing, but rather what advantages online programs have over the offline ones.
There is a perception that only well-established companies with a high revenue can afford to initiate wellness activities at work. The reality is that employers and employees benefit from a program no matter the size of the company. And one of the ways to substantially reduce the costs is to start an online program.
For example, inKin offers free and paid options. inKin is a social fitness and general wellness application. The app is compatible with different fitness trackers and pedometer apps, so an employee can monitor 20 different metrics, from sleep to cholesterol. Opting for a free plan, the company is limited to just 1 regular challenge per month. With only $24 per employee per year, a company gets access to an unlimited number of individual and group-based contests, leaderboards, stats, and team-building tools. For a company of 30 employees, it's $720 per year which is less than the cost of a gym membership.
Nowadays, it's a norm to have remote employees, distributed teams, branches all over the place, and offices in different time zones. To gather all of those people in one place at one time is a quest. Excluding one group or the other, an employer turns physical distance into the emotional distance between the people. In that sense, online options give freedom to create an all-inclusive program. If it's an online lecture on nutrition, for example, employees can connect from different corners of the world. If it's an online challenge or workout, online platforms give employees an option to start at a time that suits them the most. That way, none of the remote workers feel left out of the corporate life and benefits a company provides, and branches in different cities and states can build the bond.
Another challenge presented by remote work is effective communication. Something can be easily lost in virtual communication. Lack of physical presence and nonverbal communication signs may create false perceptions. Sometimes to keep remote employees engaged, employers initiate calls and video conferences when it could easily be an email or a short message. Instead of overcompensating with unnecessary calls, a company can use wellness activities as a way to connect and build interpersonal relations.
Some online employee wellness programs ideas:
To achieve positive behavioral changes, it's important to support employees on their way and recognize their efforts. Incentives attract more people to participate and motivate them to stick to the program. Incentives don't necessarily mean money rewards once goals are achieved or extra vacation days for everyone accepting the challenge. It should be something appealing enough to engage people, and not too extravagant to provoke cheating or negative tendencies. Also, be aware that cash and cash-equivalent incentives like gift cards are considered as taxable income and must be included in the employee’s gross income and wages.
But besides that, people value support, encouragement, and acknowledgment of their accomplishments. With online tools, the process of data tracking and accumulation becomes easier, and no one gets forgotten. In-app recognition comes in all kinds of forms: badges for the longest strikes or new records, points, virtual currency, leadership boards, motivational push-notifications, progress bars, pre-commitment pledges. Such gamification techniques foster employee motivation and performance and simplify medical management. The lower the entry threshold is, the more employees will participate.
Overall, online wellness activities give a company an opportunity to take care of the employees, no matter the situation. Unlike onsite wellness, online corporate wellness initiatives are inclusive of all employees, teams, and branches. It makes the process of behavioral modifications fun and easy, and never forgets to encourage on the way to a goal. And what's valuable in this day and age, online health and wellness activities are more affordable.