This article appeared in the December/January issue of Your Business Magazine
With the summer season upon us, improved fitness levels appear to be high on the agenda for a number of people, including possibly you and your staff members. Employee wellness is however much more than just the physical – it can be viewed holistically and comprises of a number of additional elements – mental, emotional, intellectual, occupational, financial, spiritual, social and environmental wellbeing. The question that remains is, “how can improving employee wellness boost your business?”
The reality is that stress takes its toll, and if high performers suffer from burnout, business owners are left with a huge, costly gap to fill. The proven benefits of creating a health-conscious working environment include boosted employee morale, reduced sick leave absenteeism, improved performance and productivity levels; to name a few. You don’t need to be a big corporate to run an employee wellness programme; here are some initiatives to consider:
- Preventative health screening involves conducting health screening checks by a trained primary healthcare nurse. Examples of these screening tests could include blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, which can be done either on-site or at the local clinics. The screening tests assist in identifying employees who are medically at risk, and prompts them to seek further medical attention so that their condition can be controlled and related sick absenteeism can be reduced.
- Vision screening of staff could be beneficial, especially where products are manufactured or require physical quality inspection. In some cases, vision screening may be mandatory based on the nature of the work; for example, in the case of forklift drivers.
- Employee assistance programmes (EAP) offer counselling support to staff members, who may be undergoing a stressful situation personally. Personal problems vary in nature and can negatively affect the productivity levels of employees at work as well as their attendance. Providing access to EAP services can offer your employees a much-needed lifeline.
- Recreational or pause areas are dedicated areas that promote time-out from work to recharge. During breaks, employees can relax or de-stress while reading a book, playing a game of table tennis or beating a punching bag.
- Wellness Day events promote overall employee wellness. They usually involve a variety of services being offered, from preventative health screening, workout sessions to information sessions. There are a number of wellness day service providers that are able to assist you in hosting your Wellness Day including some medical aid schemes.
- Sports activities: There may be a number of sports enthusiasts within your business. Starting a sports team helps promote both teamwork and physical wellbeing. For example, a group of runners, cyclists, a fishing team and action soccer or action cricket team, to name a few.
- Sports days could be arranged where there are different sporting events held for staff to participate in, promoting teamwork and most importantly fun. This in turn creates a memorable positive experience that boosts employee morale.
- Lunch time walks are a good way to get the blood circulating. It may simply be that breath of fresh air needed to reboot the productivity levels after lunch; and encouraging it as a group activity will benefit everyone.
- Teambuilding events are useful for creating a shared vision, setting team objectives, improving teamwork and building trust.
- Healthy snacks promote healthier eating habits, which in turn could assist with concentration levels and improved health. Providing fruit for staff, for example, may not be that costly in a small business. Alternatively, arrange for a vendor to provide fruit daily for staff to purchase.
- Technology offers mobile apps for most things these days. There are free wellness-related apps too, that can help keep track of your activities.
- Flexible working hours offer much-needed support to employees; whether it’s to beat the traffic or to drop and collect school-going children. Flexible working hours also promote work/ life balance and enable staff to incorporate their interests into the week.
Tips for Success
When implementing a new initiative such as a corporate employee wellness programme, it’s important to be invested in it yourself, as you will lead by your example. Also remember to:
- Communicate the news and discuss the programme with your staff ahead of putting anything into place. Make sure you explain the concept of employee wellness and its importance and benefits, as well as how your employees will be able to use it, when it’ll be available and what the associated costs are if there are any. You can promote wellness education through posters, free talks and newsletters on wellness-related topics.
- Identify a champion who will drive the corporate employee wellness programme on a continued and consistent basis. If you do not have the resource, then consider using an external service provider to assist you.
- Set specific measureable goals for the year that you aim to achieve with your selected wellness initiative or programme, before embarking on it. This will enable to you measure the deliverables of each initiative, to ensure that itadds value to both your business and your employees.
- Identify rewards and types of recognition that can be awarded to employees linked to their participation levels in your employee wellness initiatives.These do not have to be costly and can be non-monetary rewards as well.
There are many resources and ideas available online regarding corporate employee wellness. Find the right one that works for your business and your employees, so that it is able to help you have a focused, value-added approach to corporate employee wellness. Good luck!