Is It Time To Rethink Your Employee Wellness Strategy?
Many traditional corporate wellness programs only recognize the physical component of health. While this approach is better than nothing, employers that only emphasize physical health are missing out on a significant opportunity to positively impact their organization. That’s because this type of approach doesn’t account for all of the different elements of employee wellness. And it certainly doesn't recognize all the things that affect a person’s life and happiness.
The trick to a successful employee wellness program – and healthier employees – is learning how to connect all of the components of employee wellness. These components include physical, financial, emotional and social well-being. It’s essential for employers and employees alike to understand how these different components of wellness influence one another. For example, if an employee is having difficulties with their financial wellness, they are most likely feeling the emotional and physical impacts of that as well. When one aspect of wellness is lacking, it’s difficult for employees to feel and perform their best at work.
This is why it’s a good idea for employers to re-think their traditional approach to employee wellness. Before we can dive in on how to connect these elements, it’s crucial to fully understand each component of employee well-being. Let’s break it down:
The physical component of wellness is what we typically think of first when we hear the words “health” or “wellness.” Physical wellness is what we can see and feel, so it usually seems to be one of the most important factors of wellness. Being physically well means being able to maintain a healthy quality of life.
Helping employees achieve positive physical health means helping them lower their risk for chronic illness, maintain a healthy weight and prevent other issues like chronic fatigue or headaches.
Employers can incorporate the physical component of wellness into their employee wellness program through:
- Opportunities for physical activity at work
- Nutritional education
- Healthy office snacks
- Healthy lifestyle education
The financial side of wellness is often overlooked; which is unfortunate because it can have a significant impact on other areas of wellness if left ignored. According to an article published by UC Davis, financial wellness refers to the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses. Research has found that financial concerns can lead to mental and physical distress.
Incorporating financial wellness into a workplace wellness program helps employees become better educated about their personal finances – reducing a lot of the stress associated with finances. Employees will also be able to fully concentrate on their job when they aren’t worried about personal finances. Employers can incorporate the financial component of wellness into their employee wellness program through:
- Providing financial resources to employees
- Tuition assistance
- 401(k) education
- Finance-focused lunch-and-learn sessions
Emotional wellness is sometimes a bit trickier to discuss in a workplace setting, but it’s crucial that employers do. Emotional wellness refers to being aware and in touch with one’s emotions, thoughts and feelings. Positive emotional wellness helps support a healthy mental state and well-being.
Employers can incorporate the emotional component of wellness into their employee wellness program through:
- Group deep-breathing exercises
- Mental health days
- Stress management programs
- Emotional/mental health education and resources
Social wellness is another commonly overlooked aspect of employee wellness. More and more employers are becoming increasingly aware of the negative consequences of loneliness in the workplace. Strong work relationships and opportunities for social connection in the workplace are essential for employee job satisfaction, happiness and overall well-being. In fact, lonely employees are much more likely to feel disconnected from their jobs, which can lead to lower work performance.
Employers can incorporate the social component of wellness into their employee wellness program through:
- Team outings and activities
- Book clubs
- Work celebrations
- Wellness challenges
- Creating social areas in the office
How to Connect the Components of Employee Well-being
Understanding each component of employee well-being is only the first step in the process. In order to help employees achieve optimal well-being in the workplace, employers must learn how to connect all of the components of wellness. Fortunately, workplace wellness programs provide employers the opportunity to do just that. Here’s how employers can shift their employee wellness strategy to connect all the elements of employee well-being:
1. Take a holistic approach. To be successful, your program needs to recognize all areas of your employees’ health and well-being, including physical, financial, emotional and social wellness. Consider hosting a few lunch-and-learn sessions throughout the year that cover different components of employee wellness.
2. Provide flexibility in the program. Employees should be given the opportunity to choose what wellness activity and initiative to participate in based off of their own wellness needs and interests.
3. Create connected wellness activities.
4. Ask employees.
Workplace wellness programs are about more than your employees’ diets and their health screening results. While both of these factors are important, neither your wellness program nor your employees will thrive from concentrating on only one or two areas of well-being. Take the time to realign your approach to employee wellness so that it connects all of the important areas of health.