The remote work model became a necessity last year. As companies contemplate the implications and weigh the options between bringing employees back fully onsite, adopting a hybrid schedule, or continuing with full remote, one thing is clear: well-being matters.
Employers will need to continue to pivot their employee well-being strategy not only to accommodate their virtual workforce, but to facilitate a connected, engaged, and thriving culture, achieve stronger business results, and become an employer of choice for talented professionals.
Whether you currently have a formal wellness program as part of your benefits package or you are just starting to think about one, asking these ten questions will help ensure your strategy is solid:
10 Questions to ask:
Do I have a vision, mission, and defined approach to well-being that aligns with the organization’s overall goals?
Without a clear vision or mission you will at best be guessing what it is your trying to accomplish. This should tie in nicely with your overall organizational vision and mission and core values. A well thought out well-being strategy strives to provide resources, education, and experiences that allow employees to feel healthy and supported. Employees who feel their best perform better, which is a precursor to creativity and innovation.
Where is the intersection between well-being and our people strategy?
Your well-being strategy should complement and enhance your people strategy. This can start early in the applicant process by highlighting your wellness program features and benefits on your company website. Include information on the importance of well-being during the new hire on-boarding process. Determine touchpoints throughout the employee experience where well-being can be integrated into the way work gets done. This will go a long way in establishing a healthy, vibrant culture.
Which dimensions of well-being need more attention in my organization?
Many wellness programs address the physical components – biometric screenings, fitness incentives, smoking cessation programs – but there are many more elements to whole person well-being.
The recent focus has been on mental health. According to Wellable’s 2021 Employee Wellness Trends Report, 89% of companies plan to increase spending on mental health coverage and substance use disorder services this year. In addition to providing extra programs and services to benefit physical and mental health, organizations can evaluate their current policies, programs, and practices to better address employees’ need for social connectivity, personal growth and development, and financial well-being.
Do we have an effective communication plan for our well-being initiatives?
A large part of the reason why some wellness programs report low utilization comes from a lack of awareness. A monthly newsletter isn’t going to cut it. Start with a dedicated page on your intranet site. Find ways to tie-in wellness communication with existing employee communications so it will be seen multiple times. Test different formats. I had a higher response rate to wellness events when I sent meeting invites that could be accepted or declined versus a stand-alone email that would be read once (maybe) and then forgotten about. It’s important to partner with your internal communications team to make sure these initiatives are part of the editorial calendar.
How often do we evaluate? What criteria are we using to measure and evaluate success?
Set goals at the beginning of the year and evaluate them periodically. What you measure is important. Utilization is not the same as engagement. Checking a box that a workshop took place, or a new sleep app was rolled out doesn’t mean your well-being strategy is working. Ask: Are we getting qualitative feedback as well as quantitative? And most importantly, how are we using this feedback to create a better employee experience?
Is our well-being program inclusive for all employee populations?
One of the biggest challenges facing HR/Wellness professionals is in creating a cohesive wellness brand while being agile enough to fit the needs of specific employee populations. This becomes more complex when the organization has multiple locations, spans numerous geographies, and encompasses 4-5 generations.
Although it is incredibly difficult to address all employee’s needs and desires, asking we the question is a great start towards ensuring the highest amount of people can benefit.
Some points of considerations include:
1) The nature of the job roles in your organization: Are your employees in an office, working from home, in a manufacturing plant, distribution center, retail store, or on the road most of their day? Can they participate without a smartphone? Are they working various shifts?
2) Making activities and educational opportunities available and easier to access for those who have different abilities.
3) Cultural differences – If you operate in more than one country consider holidays, language differences, and customs. Do any of these currently bar your employees from participating or valuing your well-being programs? Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide employees an avenue to come together around a common goal or purpose and help enhance feelings of belonging and well-being.
Who are our wellness champions?
Identify people throughout the organization who will help champion well-being within their teams and functional areas. Those who have a natural passion for healthy living and are well-liked and trusted by their colleagues are effective internal marketers and help set a good example for the rest. They are also important as your eyes and ears who can gather data and feedback on what’s working best so your well-being team can be informed and in touch with how various initiatives are received.
Is our leadership team embodying and enabling the well-being we would like to have?
Creating a culture of well-being truly starts at the top. Your organization may offer incredible benefits and resources to support well-being but if people are not taking advantage of them, then there is a disconnect. Leaders who “walk the walk” by getting involved, being intentional about modeling well-being give permission to their workforce to do the same. Being a visible and active source of support is crucial to the long-term success of your workplace wellness program. A few examples I have come across are the implementation of summer “wellness days”; designated “video off” meetings and placing boundaries on email checking.
Do we have a mechanism in place to collect employee feedback on a frequent basis?
Many companies participate in an annual engagement survey, but this simply does not provide the depth of insight needed to develop meaningful solutions. Surveys, even those done more frequently, tend to highlight the most pressing and obvious problems, but bring little attention to the issues brewing beneath the surface. Instituting multiple channels to collect on-going detailed feedback, anonymously and encouraging people to participate will help provide a clearer assessment of the potential concerns and pinpoint opportunities to shift into better results.
How are we leveraging relationships with our community, vendors, and partners to enhance our employee’s well-being?
Our need for contribution is another area that can be addressed through well-being initiatives. Organizations can create campaigns around donating to important causes their employees care about. Many will include matching donations. Are there local community events, charities, and non-profit organizations and NGOs that you can partner with and allow employees a chance to donate their time in a meaningful and productive way. Not only does this benefit the receiver, but it drives purpose, connection, and team building for your workforce. Plus, it’s a nice way to prevent burnout from staring at the computer or sitting for 8 hours straight!
These ten questions cover a lot of the important factors to consider when developing an organizational well-being strategy, but it is certainly not an exhaustive list.
What other questions might you add to this list?