How Do You Build an Effective Well-Being Program? These Are the 4 Steps You Should Take.
Formal well-being programs are gaining in popularity -- and for good reason. For one thing, employees want to feel that their health and financial and emotional wellness is valued as much as their work. For another, companies are realizing the value that formal well-being initiatives bring, not only in terms of employee health but also in terms of productivity and profitability.
In fact, my company's research shows that employees at companies with formal well-being programs feel healthier (78 percent compared with 62 percent of those at companies without a well-being program). Additionally, approximately 63 percent of all costs associated with lost productivity can be attributed to what I call "presenteeism,", an indirect cost of low well-being (meaning employees who may be physically on the job, but not fully engaged).
While well-being programs help communicate to employees that their organization cares about them, it’s also important for companies to build a program that resonates with those employees. Without a clear strategy, a well-being program may be implemented but still result in poor reception from employees.
To guard against this possibility, a company has to communicate its program's purpose, taking a creative and innovative approach, carefully constructing each facet of the program and rewarding participation to ensure continued engagement.
Often, the purpose of well-being initiatives is communicated as a way for a company to save on health insurance costs rather than improve the employee experience. Rather than communicating that they view their effort as an obligation, business leaders should think about the program’s true purpose and what it means for their employees.
It’s also important for leaders to realize that overall well-being involves social, emotional and even financial well-being in addition to good physical health. Most organizations start with a physical well-being initiative because that’s what’s familiar. However, while physical health is important, it’s only one aspect among several (financial, emotional, social, etc.) needing to be addressed.
So, establish how you want your well-being program to impact these various aspects so you can effectively communicate its purpose and gain momentum in your initial participation. Having a clear vision for the program will also help as you implement supplemental initiatives further on.
Being creative and innovative in your approach can go a long way toward developing a program that resonates with your employees. Your initiatives should be imaginative and forward-thinking.
Consider including your employees in the planning stages. Their insights will help you create a program that speaks directly to their needs rather than be something developed mainly by HR and C-suite executives. You'll also build connections as you keep your finger on the pulse of employees’ needs.
At my company, we’ve invited health professionals on site to remove some of the barriers associated with obtaining care and participating in our well-being program. Massage therapists, dentists and mammographers have all visited us to provide services for our employees.
Think about what your employees need and how to incorporate those needs into your overall program. It’s not about being cool for coolness’s sake; it’s about keeping the overarching message of the program intact by incorporating fresh and fun opportunities that speak to the same principles.
Sometimes, a company simply does not have the budget to roll out an entire program at once. That’s OK. As you develop your overall goals for the program, take it slowly and ensure that each facet is aligned with the overarching purpose and strategy. Every component should feel like an extension of a program that’s already working.
Be sure to set up a way to measure your program’s successes and failures. Listen to employee feedback to understand what’s working and what needs improvement. This will aid in promoting employee engagement.
It can be tempting to ensure engagement by making participation mandatory. However, allowing employees to opt in gives them the flexibility to choose the things they want to do. Additionally, there are individual sensitivities to consider, so companies should be sure to exercise caution and avoid instilling feelings of guilt.
Success is achieved at different levels, and acknowledging those successes is paramount to keeping engagement alive. The way people understand they’re doing great work is through acknowledgement. Reinforcing participation by rewarding effort not only shows employees that you care about their engagement, but that you recognize what their individual efforts mean to their personal health goals.
By following these steps, organizations can develop a more effective well-being program. The value it can bring to the workplace can no longer be ignored, and organizations that focus on building more comprehensive programs will reap far greater benefits than those that fail to realize their importance.