5 easy ways employers can promote workplace health
Health and wellbeing are major HR trends. Nearly half of US employers offer workplace health programmes, a recent study found.
The logic is simple: healthy employees are believed to be more productive and motivated, and they need less days for sick leave. According to the World Health Organization, workplace health promotion results in reduced stress, enhanced self-esteem and increased job satisfaction for the employee. For employers, it leads to improved staff morale, reduced staff turnover and reduced absenteeism.
Wellbeing is both a corporate responsibility and a strategy to drive employee productivity, engagement and retention, Deloitte says in its 2018 Human Capital Trends report. Corporate health and wellness started by focusing on physical health and safety. Nowadays, it also includes social and emotional well-being. For example, there are programmes and tools to promote sleep, mindfulness, financial health, mental health, exercise, and stress management.
According to the report, two-thirds of organizations state that well-being programs are a critical part of their employment brand and culture. Nevertheless, there are substantial gaps between what employees want and what companies offer (Figure 1).
What can employers do?
How can employers align their health programmes more with employees’ preferences and values? Here are 5 simple ways:
01. Ask your employees
They know best — and what they tell you might surprise you. For example, according to the Deloitte trend report, student loan support and volunteerism are among the most highly regarded well-being benefits.
02. Choose a holistic approach
Wellbeing covers several aspects: physical, emotional, psychological and mental health. It can also cover personal values and development. When you pay attention to all these areas and realize they’re interrelated, the programmes you offer will be more successful in helping prevent chronic and long-term conditions. Focusing only on sports or healthy food, for example, may discourage some employees.
03. Make it convenient
People have a limited amount of willpower each day. Employees have to be focused and make decisions all day long, and often they don’t have the energy to consciously choose ‘the healthy option’. Help them, for example, by placing the stairs in sight and ‘hiding’ the elevators, offering free fruit and healthy snacks or scheduling monthly coaching sessions.
04. Embed it in the culture
The habits of individuals are greatly influenced by their surroundings, and people tend to copy group behaviour. If you want to promote healthy behaviour at work, make it the company’s responsibility and make sure health is embedded in the company culture. Leadership has an important role to play in making ‘healthy’ the norm. Also, policies and practices help optimise the environment to support well-being.
05. Pay special attention to millennials
Health and well-being are particularly important to younger employees. Millennials spend twice as much on ‘self-care’ as baby-boomers do. Also, they’re often more stressed about their financial situation and have a hard time foreseeing long-term health issues. Helping them with an individual plan and adding extra benefits such as a free gym membership or more paid time off makes your company more attractive to younger generations.