For most people, it is the season of holidays, winter magic, and new beginnings. One odd and challenging year is behind us, and we are ready to embrace better things. But that doesn't sound quite right.
No matter how happy the world might be about leaving 2020 in the past, the aftermaths of that year are not gone. It is hard to have those exhilarating feelings of a fresh start when we are still amidst a pandemic, handling restrictive measures, and the overwhelming stress.
Instead of being excited about the New year, many people had to opt for a staycation, worry about whether they will have work after the holidays, and receive a salary. Thus, some don't remember the last time they had free times, and the amount of work they have overwhelmed them.
Despite the world being in the clutches of COVID-19, people have to continue working, be productive, and accomplish good results. But that generates pressure, so it's no surprise that 90 per cent of employees report anxiety. Fifty-five per cent of these workers are battling severe tension.
Even though these statistics are alarming and show a need for companies with a strong culture of health and well-being, only 79 per cent of employees report working in such an environment. That is why we need to talk about employee wellness programmes and why they are essential for workplaces.
How to Develop Successful Employee Wellness Programmes that will Help your Staff Navigate the Post-Pandemic Era
Regardless of being in 2021, there is still a stigma around mental health and asking for help. Employees are afraid to reach out and say that they have a problem that affects their personal and professional lives. Instead of seeking support from their managers and HR, they stay silent, continue suffering, and hiding the problem.
That usually happens because they fear they could lose their jobs otherwise. Besides, due to lack of mental well-being awareness, colleagues or even superiors could see them as weak or spoiled. Some companies don't have wellness programmes of any kind, or they are not very visible, so employees don't even know who to report their issues.
Successful employee wellness programmes will address and cover all these elements, ensuring that everyone in the workplace takes mental health seriously and that staff knows they can reach out.
These are the strategies to create and establish employee wellness programmes that will give good results.
1. Include executives & ask for support
Mental health programs are usually underfunded, and these strategies require support that comes from the highest levels. That is why when starting with wellness and well-being programmes, first make sure that you have buy-in from executives and leaders.
The best way to ensure that executives understand these programmes like you is to decide its core values and goals. Concentrate on how wellness initiatives answer the needs of employees and address post-COVID-19 struggles. Executives should comprehend the issues workers have, how that affects their personal and professional lives, and how well-being programmes help combat that.
If you want these initiatives to be effective, all-encompassing, and credible, they have to function well across all levels. That's why executives must understand them. Thus, employees will want to reach out to the executive level or expect that managers can also offer support. The programme will be genuine, lasting, and engaging if you ensure an in-depth approach and communication.
2. Encourage workers to offer their feedback and insights
To develop a stable wellness programme that addresses employee needs, you will have to seek their ideas, guidance, and information. You don't need to have all the answers from the get-go, but you shouldn't be afraid to reach out to employees and ask them where to start. They know best their problems and potential solutions.
The best way to ask for insights is to create an all-encompassing survey. Share the survey with employees to identify what their fears, problems, and hopes are. Start by asking your employees what they think would be the most helpful for their struggles. Then gather all the information you collected and analyze survey results. That way, you will make sure that the programme centres around the right issues and offers the most compatible help.
However, the survey will only be efficient if it reaches enough employees to provide you with diverse answers. To achieve that, you need to share the questionnaire on popular channels among staff they use regularly. It is essential to develop a survey that shows that you genuinely care and need their ideas, tips, and answers.
Hence, you should develop a marketing campaign for the wellness programme and ensure that it includes all relevant material. Create informative newsletters, presentations, videos, information, and visuals that put the advantages at a focal point.
3. Adjust the wellness programme to your employees' response
Once you gather insights from employees, further development should be much easier because you will have clear guidance. The programme should align with feedback, and all its elements should cover every employee concern. For example, you might discover that remote work is causing a sense of isolation among employees. To alleviate that, you can leverage online communications to make everyone feel connected, accepted, and a part of a company.
The wellness programme should help your employees feel like they belong because the pandemic and working from home can trigger loneliness. One way to do it is to find professionals and make them a part of the programme. Connect employees with colleagues who are going through similar issues.
Be there for them and ensure that you are offering support. The company's communication channels should be efficient and allow workers to use them to seek help when they need it.
You can also perform research that will tackle coronavirus-related issues and concerns. That way, you won't leave anything out when building your wellness programme. Worries of losing the job, financial troubles, sleep and eating disruptions, and fearing for family's health are among the most frequent aftermaths of the pandemic.
An all-encompassing wellness programme should cover these concerns and develop initiatives that help people struggling with the consequences. Thus, you should think about how to incorporate the seven components of employee wellness into your programme. Some of these elements are social, emotional, cognitive, and physical care.
4. Add lasting wellness and well-being policies and initiatives
For many companies, coronavirus was the incentive for developing well-being programmes but even though that might be your case too, make your initiatives long-lasting. Employee wellness programmes shouldn't be a one-time thing because that removes credibility, sincere concern, and lasting efficiency.
These programmes should be policies that will stay long after the pandemic is gone. Turn your well-being initiatives into a part of your mental health efforts. One of the best ways to do it is to ensure the programme addresses current issues and ongoing ones.
Include strategies that help employees cope with pandemic's anxiety, burnout, and work from home. Foresee issues that might appear in the future and find a way to implement strategies that solve them. Your initiatives should manifest the core values and goals of your wellness programme, which is why you need to think about every action thoroughly.
These are some of the strategies other companies implemented that you can consider.
Preventive workplace health screening and support
Ongoing telehealth aid
Coaching sessions that could be inside of a team or one-on-one
Find professionals that can offer therapy or counseling
Leverage technology: provide employees with mental health, wellness, and well-being apps
5. Track and evaluate progress and impact
Even though you think your programme covers everything, it might not give the results you expected. That means that you are still missing something and you have to find out what. That can be challenging, which is why you need to track how your programme is progressing and the impact it's making.
Use advanced tech to collect responses from employees and ensure that the programme can reach everyone who needs it. Implement additional questionnaires for employees, conduct research and think of immersive tracking apps to gather the insights and make sure your initiative has an effect.
Besides, the marketing campaign should stay intense all along. That will remind employees to participate in the programme. Remind them that they can open up, that it's okay to be vulnerable, and that your company takes mental health seriously. If you do that, you will make sure that your employee wellness programme functions and helps staff be more resilient.
Employee Wellness is More Than Just a Trend
Statistics and reports often show emphasis on mental health and well-being programmes as trends. But they are much more. Employee wellness programmes remind us that workers are only humans who have struggles and are not there to just finish the work. They have personal lives, and they worry about their friends and family, which often intersects with their responsibilities.
One of the pandemic's silver linings is that it remembered us we need to be more understanding. That is why employee wellness programmes are not just a trend, and establishing a strong one is a sign of a company that cares about its staff.