Article written by guest author, Alicia Paul
Workplace health and wellness can seem almost like buzz terms at this point, but rest assured, they matter tremendously. Rather than simply looking for the highest pay or best career opportunities, job candidates today are seeking workplaces that value their well-being. And at the same time, a true focus on employee wellness will help to define a company’s reputation today.
Particularly in light of the pandemic and shifting work conditions, employees are putting their mental and physical well-being first perhaps more so than ever before. Indeed, this is even seen as one of the main reasons behind the record number of employees who have quit their jobs over the last few years. Those who have not felt adequately valued or cared for in their work environments have simply decided to bet on themselves and try something new.
Because of this, it’s clear that a focus on workplace wellness is one of the strategies employers need to implement in order to hire and retain the right talent today. So let’s look at some ways to go about doing exactly this.
Create A Plan
The first step in implementing any new strategy is to create the plan, or roadmap, for it. This plan should speak to the material you would like your employees to have, the method of delivery, the types of meetings or discussions you want, and any strategic objectives. The objectives should follow the SMART framework (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). And from this framework, you can create a rough timeline as to when you want these objectives to be met (while remembering that some flexibility may be necessary).
Activities such as seminars, workshops, or even simple discussions and meetings can make for a great start to raising awareness and getting some information about wellness into employees’ hands. The material you choose is up to you, but a good place to start is with any mandatory workplace wellness resources that may exist in your state or jurisdiction (which can include things like reference information for various health and wellness organizations). Use the material to open up a space for discussion and get feedback from employees, and then adjust what’s offered as needed.
Change The Environment
Small changes such as switching out junk for healthier options in the cafeteria or vending machines can go a long way. Similarly, you should make sure that employees have the right equipment for their jobs: ergonomic seating and desks, adequate lighting, and even company-provided water bottles (and a water cooler) will all help employees feel better and avoid some of the most common workplace health and comfort issues. Back pain, eye strain, and headaches tend to be the most common complaints from those who work at a desk all day, for example, and by improving the working environment you can make all of these struggles less likely.
With regards to current working conditions, it’s important to note that companies striving to maintain healthy workplaces in light of Covid are the types of companies most employees are looking for right now. If you’re reopening and having employees come back to the office, there are a few things to consider. First of all, are your employees ready to come back? If not, will they have the option to continue to work remotely, or work in the office only a few days a week? And when employees are working in the office, will it have been arranged such that they can maintain social distancing? To some extent these precautions can go as far as you want to take them. But because of Covid, all of this should now factor into your wellness approach.
Be A Role Model
People look to leaders as examples, so the leaders in your organization also have to step up and show that they’re also making the effort to take care of themselves. While some companies may provide perks like a gym membership or even on-site yoga sessions, there’s no guarantee that employees will take advantage of them. If they see their own peers and leaders taking the time to focus on health, however, they’ll be more likely to follow suit.
Offer Wellness Programs
Finally, investment in wellness programs is well worth it. There’s a wide range of programs to choose from, so you’ll have to get into contact with wellness vendors and consider your options. These vendors can offer things like on-site health screenings, personalized health programs for individual employees, and even insight into disease management (either preventative or regarding treatment). Make sure that vendors you choose also have an idea of what your plan is, and keep an open mind to any feedback they may have about that plan.
Creating a health and wellness strategy in your workplace can do wonders for hiring and retaining your talent, as well as for making sure your employees are satisfied and healthy. Healthy, happy employees tend to be more productive than their unsatisfied counterparts, which is all the more reason to make their wellness a top priority for the business.
Where To Go From Here
Ready to get your plan mapped out? Schedule a free, remote, one-on-one appointment with an SBDC HR Specialist to work through what your company’s health and wellness plan could look like.