Employee Wellness Programs
While most employers would love to have an employee who works hard, comes in early, stays late, and always goes the extra mile no matter the cost, there definitely comes a point where all that stress catches up to a person and can lead to long-term negative health consequences. Physical and mental health of your employees should always be a top priority for your business. I think we’re at that point where it is generally agreed by the majority of the population that peak mental and physical wellness leads to improved productivity, quality, and overall performance on the job.
Employee Wellness programs have several benefits. We can generally agree that employees who are physically active and take measures to protect their health are happier employees with lower stress levels, good attendance (and less sick days), higher productivity, and higher engagement. When you have more happy employees in the office, this definitely resonates and there is likely less stress in the air. As well, your business can experience far less workplace injuries and the burden on your benefits program can be reduced when employees are engaged in managing their wellness.
An Employee Wellness Program can be designed and implemented in a matter of months. More and more, we are seeing the majority of Canada’s Top Employers recognized as such because of their employee wellness programs. Outlined below are some potential components and activities to consider as part of your Wellness Program.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
This is your starting point after a group benefits plan. I can think of so many examples over the years where an EAP Program has helped considerably in managing employee crisis. These programs can provide support with substance abuse, personal issues, post-traumatic event support, and can also provide advice in the areas of personal finance and legal issues.
Whether you arrange for fitness or yoga classes on-site or off-site, this is a great way to break up the day and provide a little Zen when it’s needed most. I know of some companies who bring on a fitness instructor to conduct a session in their in-house gym and add extra time to the lunch break. As well, some companies choose to bring in an instructor to provided classes outside in the summer months.
It’s also not a bad idea to promote after work running or bike clubs. Giving employees options for activities before, during, or after work is a great way to promote mental and physical wellness.
Getting out into the community as an organization can be very rewarding and can help boost positive vibes in the workplace as well, especially when your organization is out supporting a cause that is important for you and your employees. It’s never a bad idea to setup a volunteer day for your employees or to facilitate fundraisers for specific causes.
Arrange for workshops to provide employees information on a variety of topics. There are a lot of workshops that experts will hold for a reasonable fee to discuss topics important to employees. I’ve brought in experts in personal finance, nutrition, ergonomics, smoking cessation, domestic violence, and mental health to educate employees.
We’ve just named a few programs or ideas, but the list goes on. Don’t forget about group benefits plans, social clubs, or other team building functions that can go the extra mile for employees who may be struggling with physical or mental health issues.
When you are ready for setting up an Employee Wellness Program, keep these steps in mind:
1. Set a clear and achievable goal. Be mindful on what your trying to achieve and establish a comprehensive strategy and plans that will have a direct impact.
2. Setup a wellness committee or at least have a dedicated employee or small team to coordinate activities to execute your strategy.
3. Establish a budget!
4. Engage your employees to gauge what types of activities they’d like to see the company promote. This will be important if you choose to form partnerships in the community.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Keep an eye out for our future blogs, where we discuss important human resources topics for your business.