Employee wellness programs have gone stale. What once was cutting edge 20 years ago is lagging in authenticity, helpfulness, and relevance today. But updating your offerings may help propel your company into new territory, giving you the edge when it comes to hiring. If it’s time for your organization to rethink its wellness programs, check out these five ingredients that yours may be missing.
Proper sleep is a key to good health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not getting enough sleep can be dangerous. For example, if you drive drowsy, you may be as dangerous as a drunk driver. Encourage your colleagues to prioritize sleep so they’re safe while on the road.
Better sleep can also help your employees work at their highest and best levels when they’re on the clock. Encourage good sleep hygiene and launch a campaign focused on healthy sleep habits. Use this as an opportunity to educate your employees on sleep hygiene while rewarding their efforts with special gifts.
For example, you can curate a box that includes silk pillowcases, lavender linen spray, and a sleep mask. Include cards that highlight healthy sleep habits and meditations they can do before bed. Take it a step further and host a contest for logging the most sleep. In the end, acknowledge the good work done by your team and reward those who participated with a sleep-focused gift. When your team is well-rested, they’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive.
It’s all well and good to encourage your employees to exercise. Some organizations provide reimbursements for club memberships and digital platforms. If you already offer these, consider what else you can do to encourage mindful movement among your teams.
If your team is in the office, consider hosting a yoga or Pilates session every other week. Welcome all colleagues to attend and encourage it. If your budget allows, offer incentives for those who show up. Be sure to remove scheduling conflicts and establish a culture of acceptance for taking movement breaks.
If your team is remote, consider hosting a virtual version. Many qualified instructors now cater to remote employers, offering customized solutions for employers of any size. No matter your choice, encourage your managers to lead by example so everyone feels included.
The pandemic has exacerbated or even created more mental health issues for today’s workforce. Without proper attention, mental health issues like depression and anxiety can take over and cause poor performance. Create a work culture where mental health is paramount. Work to destigmatize taking regular mental health breaks by enhancing mental health support.
If your organization already offers sick days, encourage your colleagues to use them as mental health days as well. If you’re able to, consider adding additional time-off benefits specifically for mental health days. Separate mental health days can be helpful for those who often take their sick time to care for others.
Many employers offer a standard employee assistance program, often provided by a third party. While these programs have value, they can sometimes fall by the wayside as employees forget to use them. Consider equipping your employees with memberships to digital platforms like BetterHelp or Calm. These digital platforms are completely private to your employees and are targeted toward today’s consumers.
Mental health and relaxation-focused apps are accessible to everyone. App-based mental health support is often the gateway for employees to get further assistance for their mental health. Provide a vehicle for your employees to reach out for the help that they need. It may be less expensive than you think.
4. Meaningful Parental Support
Parental leave has been a part of the national conversation for years. Its future is uncertain, but the purpose remains clear — parents need support at work. While comprehensive parental leave is ideal, it often comes with its own set of administrative challenges and budgetary discussions.
Beyond establishing comprehensive parental leave, consider what else you can do for parents. Both new and experienced parents, as well as caregivers, need support to care for their families. Offer access to discounted summer camp programs so your colleagues’ kids can stay occupied and safe during the summer. For new parents, consider providing them with a stipend for takeout during those crazy first few weeks with their newborn.
For long-term support needs, set up a parents’ affinity group within your organization. The group can meet regularly to create relationships and offer firsthand advice and support among peers. While you’re at it, ensure that your organization provides flexibility to both parents and non-parents. Providing a flexible support system can help employees feel seen and supported.
5. Nutritional Coaching Beyond Modules
Many employers offer a platform-based wellness program in association with their health benefits package. Unfortunately, they quickly become obsolete as employees complete the minimum required tasks to qualify for their premium discount.
Consider tapping into digitally-based nutrition coaching platforms like Noom to further help your employees reach their nutrition and weight loss goals. Much like app-based mental health support, these platforms are separate from your organization and can ensure privacy.
It may also be advantageous for you to extend the membership opportunity to your employees’ covered dependents. When the entire family is healthy, you may see a reduction in healthcare costs as well as sick days.
Even if your organization is small, it’s important to prioritize the wellness of your employees. If this sounds like a lot of work for your already exhausted HR team, consider establishing a wellness advisory group. Made up of representatives from each department, this group can weigh in on wellness initiatives. It can also provide insight on employee sentiment and take on some of the workload associated with execution.
If you’re not sure what your employees would find most valuable, include wellness-focused questions on your next employee engagement survey. Hearing the desires straight from your team can help you develop programs and offerings that work for the long term.
In the end, your employees need to know that you care about them beyond the day-to-day. Integrate enhanced wellness activities into your benefit offerings, and they’ll know you’ve got their backs.