In our previous blog, we covered the what and why of a successful employee wellness program. This second and final part of the series delves into how to go about framing an effective program.
An employee wellness program is a live, continuously evolving process. In other words, it makes no sense to try to frame an exhaustive, all-inclusive list of activities at the start. Begin small and gradually build, as necessary and when the time and circumstances are right.
However, there are three broad things to keep in mind when developing a program – whether at the start or during an upgrade.
Scope: What will the wellness program encompass? Who will it cover – will it cover everyone, or a few people, or will it cover a mix of different interventions for different sets of employees by pay grade, experience, or team?
Relevance: The next step is to determine if employees see value in the program. Does it offer them practical support aimed at mental and physical wellness? For example, launching an anti-smoking policy won’t find much mileage if the habit is not common to begin with.
Quality: Finally, what is the credibility of the program? A program that is not credible, like the anti-smoking campaign mentioned above, is bound to have few takers. Employees can easily see through substandard wellness programs, and will not take kindly to them.
Another frequently overlooked (yet critical) part of successful wellness programs is communication. Many organizations come up with well-intentioned programs that fall flat simply because they are not properly communicated, or perhaps make certain aspects mandatory in a way that does not resonate well. A program can appeal to a broader audience if, for example, managers lead by example. Employees can quickly make out when there is a difference between what a company says, and what it does. No points for guessing how well duplicity goes down with a workforce.
Nurturing a culture of care and compassion as part of the company ethos goes a long way toward getting buy-in. While this obviously requires long-term, persistent effort and involves considerable investment, the benefits are beyond rewarding and include reduced cost, absenteeism, and attrition, which translate into hard dollar savings.
How to start a wellness program
The most important thing to keep in mind when formulating a wellness program is the audience: employees. Unless (and until!) companies know their staff well enough to know their needs, and the kind of program that would suit them, there is no way a program would be effective. This is particularly true in hybrid and remote work environments, where in all likelihood employers may not even have met many of their employees in person.
It is critical to capture the right information about employees to design an effective program. And finding out the relevant information is really not that difficult – there’s any number of tools and technologies that can be leveraged to derive the necessary insights – but it will take time and patience. When we launched our employee assistance program (EAP) at Joveo, it took us 6–8 weeks of deliberation to make any headway!
We’re currently living in a very different, rapidly-evolving world – given the importance of soft skills in today’s market, if companies don’t have the right setup to help people nurture their mental and physical wellness, they are bound to lag behind the competition. Companies now need to look beyond mere cookie-cutter programs and instead embrace wellness as a culture, which should also reflect in their job construct. With stress and anxiety causing very real problems in the post-COVID era, organizations are liable to do something to help – not just employers, but as good citizens.
Of course, as a company, you need to first be able to hire the right people before you even think about employee wellness programs. Book a demo today to blaze through your talent acquisition goals! And follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, where we’re always working to help you get the most out of your recruitment advertising.