Employee Wellness is now a big industry and we are seeing more and more companies embracing creative Wellness strategies to enhance the working lives of their employees.
This is great news for both workers and employers alike. While implementing strategies to promote wellbeing does come at a cost to an employer, there is no doubt that they can actually help reduce costs in the long run. According to The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism, by establishing effective wellness Programmes, companies can expect average reductions of 26% in health costs, 30% in compensation and disability management claims and around a 28% drop in employee absenteeism. It’s a clear win-win situation!
Here is a breakdown of our top five wellbeing at work trends to look out for in 2019:
1. Flexible working weeks to reduce burnout
More and more companies are getting on board with the mutual advantages of offering flexible hours tailored to the individual. Four-day weeks and the option to work from home for part of the time are becoming increasingly prevalent – and with good reason. By allowing employees the opportunity to enhance their work-life balance with more downtime and the flexibility to work to their own schedule, employers can expect increased productivity and better staff retention.
2. A better understanding of Wellness for improved provision
Corporate perception of Wellness has come a long way in recent years. We are seeing a move away from the traditional understanding, limited to healthy eating and exercise and are looking at holistic approaches to Workplace Wellness. These go beyond physical health and encompass emotional health as well. Stress-reducing mindfulness practices such as lunchtime yoga, meditation apps and after hours email bans are examples of strategies being introduced to address this aspect of employee wellbeing.
3. Overcoming mental health taboos to increase acceptance and support
Most of us, at some point, will have called in sick when we needed a little time out for reasons other than the common cold or an upset stomach. However, for many people, mental health issues have a real impact upon their working lives and this not only affects them, but also their employer. Stress, anxiety and depression, along with other more serious conditions are significant causes of employee absence – and yet they are often not discussed or properly addressed. Thankfully with growing awareness of these issues, companies are striving to shed the stigma surrounding employee mental health by opening up the dialogue and offering support services such as counselling and advice.
4. Prioritising Workplace Wellness to maximise its effectiveness
It’s all very well for companies to implement Wellness Programmes, but without employee participation, nothing will be achieved. The importance of employee engagement with these programmes cannot be overlooked! Companies are addressing this by introducing incentives and reward schemes for participation and for reaching health-related targets. This has the knock-on positive effect of promoting a sense of community within the workplace and injects a little fun into the daily grind too.
5. Virtual Wellness Programmes to reach more
An exciting recent development in Workplace Wellness is the use of virtual Wellness programmes, devised to extend the reach and accessibility of their benefits. With increased flexibility within the working week allowing employees to work remotely and at different hours, it can be difficult for everyone to access work-based wellness programmes. The use of digital tools such as apps, social media and interactive e-programmes allows employees to access wellness programmes at a time and place that suits them, resulting in increased employee engagement and maximum results.
Wellbeing at work is no longer viewed as an unnecessary indulgence, but instead, essential to the overall success of a business. By cutting workplace stress, productivity is boosted — the positive impact of employee satisfaction cannot be denied!
Employees too can do their bit to promote positive changes by suggesting initiatives and approaching time-pressed managers, who will likely appreciate ideas and input. Of course, bigger companies enjoy bigger budgets for these sorts of schemes. Nevertheless, there are many innovative ways in which smaller organisations can empower their employees, without having to spend a fortune. Large or small, employers have a responsibility to prioritise the wellbeing of their employees and happily, it’s in everyone’s best interests.
By Gemma Coldwell - Contributing editor