Workplace wellness and employee well-being programs are on the rise.
But HR, benefits and employee communications teams are struggling to keep employees engaged in them.
One reason is that many employees simply don’t understand the objectives or benefits of workplace wellness. Another is that today’s WFH reality has limited employee visibility of their wellness programs.
“Overcommunicating is imperative for engagement,” says Tesha Crockett-Gibson, manager of health promotion at Arlington County Government, in a recent Ragan Training video on the topic.
“You really have to double up on getting the word out because more people are remote,” she says. “It has to be a mix of intranet, email, social media and even posters, especially for frontline workers.”
Equally important is asking for input. “You can’t just throw a plan up on the wall. You have to ask what their needs are—or you’ll get zero engagement,” Crocket-Gibson says. “Conduct surveys asking how they’re keeping up with wellness. Are they doing fitness classes at home? Do they want daycare hours?”
She also suggests creating a wellness committee. “Select someone from each department, all the way up to division chiefs, so you get wider input,” she says. “Once people feel heard, they’re more likely to listen and engage in what you bring back.”
You can also share this quick FAQ with your workforce to increase engagement:
1. What is workplace wellness?
“The CDC’s explanation is vague,” Crockett-Gibson says, “but it’s a starting place.” She suggests posting the definition below in the office or on your intranet.
2. How did it start?
The history of workplace wellness reaches back to the 17th century, when Italian physician Bernardini Ramazzini first wrote about occupational disease.
“But it really began as a movement 50 years ago,” says Crockett-Gibson. “That’s when businesses started looking into fostering employee health through prevention.”
3. Where are we now?
“We had just started thinking about holistic wellness in 2018 and 2019,” she says. “More companies were offering comprehensive programs than ever before.”
That number recently hit a peak of about 90% of mid- to large-sized businesses offering some form of comprehensive, physical wellness program.
4. What do employees need now?
“And then the pandemic hit,” says Crockett-Gibson. “We’re now seeing more issues involving stress, anxiety and social wellness.”
As a result, wellness programs have dramatically stepped up their “holistic” approach.
“It’s more about the whole person and that’s why we’ve gotten better at asking people what they want,” she says. “For example, do they want more flexibility? Can they move out of state and still work with us? Are they getting enough recognition and training at work?”
How does training fit into holistic health?
“The pandemic has made people re-evaluate where they’re at,” she explains. “It’s harder now to retain employees, so give them a culture where they feel like they can advance. That’s a key to being happier at work—and happiness is a critical part of well-being.”