4 Tips for Launching an Employee Wellness Strategy
As the workplace becomes increasingly digital, stress at work is on the rise. The 24/7 always-on and real-time notifications of workplace digital tools are inadvertently increasing employee stress. The 2017 Udemy Workplace Stress Study found that 52% of all respondents were more stressed than they had been in the previous year, and two-thirds of millennials were stressed at work all or most of the time. Sustained high stress at work is linked to employee burnout, a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, which Harvard Business Review estimates costs companies $125 billion to $190 billion a year. In order to combat rising stress, more organizations are launching a comprehensive employee wellness strategy.
Employee wellness is more than yoga and meditation on Mondays (though that does help). When people are in a state of wellness at work, they’re able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build positive relationships with others, cope with the normal stresses of life, and make a meaningful contribution.
For businesses, turning wellness into something tactical can sometimes be a struggle. Is it enough to just run fitness classes? Are some programs intruding on people’s personal lives? The important thing is to get started by collecting employee feedback. This is part of why we developed the employee wellbeing survey at Culture Amp.
Once you know what wellness programs matter to people, and if they’re feeling supported in their wellness through the company’s cultural norms, by their manager, and on a personal level, you can take action where it’s needed to build the most effective employee wellness strategy.
However, no strategy is effective if people don’t know what’s available to them. That’s why we put together Your guide to a successful employee wellbeing strategy: Practical tips for the modern workplace. Below are three tips from the guide for communicating your strategy and integrating new wellness offerings for the whole company.
1. Communicate often and reach employees where they are
What’s the primary method of communication at your company? Do people use email and Slack or something else? Start your communications at an in-person event, like an all-hands meeting if possible, to give people time for questions. Follow up about your new wellness offerings via email, social media messages like Slack and any other communication channels you use. Consider remote employees, and provide additional communication to this group.
Communication tools to support your wellness launch
Here are a few communication ideas to support your wellness launch. Use them all, or choose a few that are the best fit for your company. Remember, the more people understand and embrace your wellness strategy, the more successful it will be.
- Wellness calendars to share with the whole company
- Wellness guide outlining your company’s philosophy and offerings
- Swag to celebrate the launch of your strategy (water bottle, t-shirt, reusable bag)
- Slack channels specific to wellness for questions and feedback
- Email newsletter
- Video announcements
2. Integrate wellness into new hire onboarding
To ensure the longevity of your wellness strategy, incorporate it into new hire onboarding. This shows new employees that you are committed to wellness, and it means more than yoga once a week. Bonnie Powell, Director of People, Bench Accounting says, “We integrated our Mental Health guide into our new hire onboarding and Workplace Wellbeing training sessions to reflect how we think about mental health. It’s super important for our newest Benchmates to know that this resource is available, and to set the tone around how we talk about wellbeing.” Stacey Nordwall, Senior People Operations Manager at Culture Amp, championed the process of creating a wellbeing guide as well. She says, “To keep the conversation about wellness going, we have included the guide as part of our onboarding journey and encourage all of our new Campers to give feedback on it.”
3. Offer wellness learning opportunities
It’s not enough to just talk about wellness, you should also invest in wellness learning opportunities for your workforce. It can be through in-person classes, fun wellness day festivals, and online wellness courses on Udemy for Business like Learn Meditation, Stress Management, or How to Transform Your Life & Health—available on-demand for your employees whenever they might need it. These types of programs focused on wellness can deliver cost savings. A study on the financial return from wellness programs demonstrated that for every dollar spent, company medical costs decrease by approximately $3.27 and by $2.73 for absenteeism. Employers who adopt employee wellness programs are likely to see substantial positive returns within a few years.
4. Appeal to future employees
A focus on wellness can be appealing to future employees as well. Put information about your wellness strategy and offered programs on your website. For example, fitness company Peloton offers unlimited cycling classes and discounts on everything Peloton for employees. They also offer a comprehensive benefits package with healthcare and maternity/paternity support. While it’s easy to expect a company whose mission is related to wellness to have good offerings, any company will do well to advertise what they can provide for prospective employees. Work management tool Asana, for example, offers a healthy work environment, “Our culinary team serves three delightful and nutritious meals each day. We have yoga on-site daily and offer a monthly fitness reimbursement.” A great way to add more meaning to future candidates is to add employee testimonials so candidates can see that these programs are truly integrated into the company’s cultural norms.
If you’re in the information-gathering stage of planning your wellness strategy and not ready to launch yet, check out Culture Amp’s Guide to a successful employee wellbeing strategy and the wellness courses available through Udemy for Business.