Gone are the days when companies ignored the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees. In the modern era, employers are expected to provide robust corporate wellness benefits for their people, to support their health and happiness.
Companies that don’t offer wellness benefits aren’t only risking the health of their employees, they’re also risking employees leaving them for a company which does.
And just supplying a stipend for a gym membership is so early 2000’s.
Here’s the thing: there’s a ton of data to support the fact that multi-faceted wellness benefits are great for employees and their employers. But when we say wellness benefits, we don’t just mean standard health insurance.
The term “wellness benefits” refers to comprehensive systems that are in place to keep employees well, and which also ensure that their day-to-day work is meaningful and sustainable.
Plus, as we already mentioned, employees who don’t feel like their wellbeing is supported might jump ship, and head to a company that offers this support.
Not sure if you’re hitting the mark with what you’re offering? Here’s everything you need to know about wellness benefits, along with some innovative ways that you can promote wellness at your organization.
The State of Employee Wellness
Employee wellness has come a very long way in just a few decades, particularly in the past 50 years. It started with awareness about basic on-the-job safety, particularly with industrial jobs. Today, the conversation around employee wellbeing has shifted to mental as well as physical wellness.
Because of this, employers are expected to offer well-rounded wellness benefits that support mental wellbeing as well as your standard physical fitness resources..
Sure, by now we all know that as a whole, the workforce sits way too much, to the point that the term “sitting disease” exists. That’s because excessive sitting, and subsequent lack of movement, can lead to issues with breathing, blood circulation,and increase the risk of several diseases. We even know that there is a “right” way to actually sit at your desk, to ensure the health of your back, wrists, and fingers.
But what about our mental wellbeing? What kind of impact can our jobs have on our mental health? It’s well-recognized that our work can deplete us to the point where our mental wellbeing is severely impacted. The World Health Organization even reworked its definition of the term “burnout”, an official listing in its handbook of diseases, and defined it as a syndrome related to “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Benefits of Employee Wellness Benefits
So what are the perks of comprehensive employee wellness benefits? Let’s dive into some of the major benefits.
Wellness benefits genuinely move the needle on employee health
This may be one of the biggest pros of employee wellness benefits: they appear to actually encourage employees to become healthier. One clinical trial showed that in as little as six weeks, employees changed their behaviors enough to experience improved health risks (such as blood pressure and cholesterol), and that these changes could last up to 18 months after the program began.
Wellness benefits lead to less spending on healthcare
This is huge. There are tons of studies that show employee wellness benefits genuinely reduce medical costs. One review of more than 50 case studies found that “well-implemented workplace health programs can lead to 25% savings each on absenteeism, health care costs, and workers’ compensation and disability management claims costs.” This is great news for both employees and employers.
Employees like and use their wellness benefits
There are plenty of stats that demonstrate the fact that employees like and take advantage of wellness benefits. One report found that 89% of workers at companies with wellness initiatives were more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. Other research found that more than 60% of employees agreed that they made healthier lifestyle choices because of their company’s wellness benefits.
Wellness benefits can support psychological safety
Psychological safety has emerged in recent years as a frontrunner in employee wellness, and an important component to productivity. Psychological safety is when employees believe they won’t get punished for making mistakes. It’s been connected to positive impacts such as moderate risk-taking, creativity, and “sticking your neck out,” in a way that is productive in innovative organizations.
Psychological safety is present when employees trust their employers and feel like they can speak their mind, and it takes both sides (employees and employers) to foster it. When employers offer wellness benefits, it demonstrates their commitment to the health of their employees, building trust. Plus, mental health resources can genuinely help employees work through whatever life throws at them.
Curating Wellness Benefits With Innovation
If your wellness benefits seem like they’re a little dated, maybe it’s time for a change. You have the power to curate wellness benefits for your employees that spark genuine changes in their health habits, and that lead to happier, healthier, and more productive employees.
There are plenty of innovative ways that employers are curating their wellness benefits today, which go far beyond simply offering health insurance. First, let’s start with the basics. Some of the basic tenets of an employee wellness benefit program include:
- Physical activity
- Healthy nutrition
- Tobacco cessation
- Stress management
- Social connectedness
- Alcohol management
When designing wellness benefits, you can look to these basic pillars for inspiration. But you don’t need to take the sterile “old corporate” approach to these pillars. Here are innovative ways companies are rethinking their wellness benefits, and ways that you can structure your benefits:
There are plenty of ways to encourage physical activity at work, beyond getting standing desks for everyone (which is a great place to start). For example, Seattle Children’s Hospital implemented a bike-to-work program which won awards for encouraging movement and leading employees to save on gas money.
Other great ideas include on-site exercise facilities/equipment, opportunities for “active breaks” such as ping pong tables, and providing/subsidizing things such as fitness assessments, memberships, or home equipment.
Nutrition education is a great way to help your employees take their wellness into their own hands. You can offer or subsidize education programs, as well as an abundance of healthy food options on-site (in the cafeteria and vending machines), and access to dietitians.
Quitting smoking is a highly personal decision, but it’s important to offer resources for employees who want to quit. For smokers who want to stop, you can offer resources that can help with quitting, such as therapists and tobacco cessation medications. You can also create a policy banning smoking at your workplace.
Offering tools to help your team combat stress can be instrumental in helping their mental wellbeing, while on the job and at home. Aside from stress management programs and access to medical experts, you can offer your employees a physical space in the office to unwind. Some companies have even created nap spaces for their employees to rest during the day, or offer subscriptions to meditation apps. You can also have support for things such as child care, elder care, and tuition reimbursement.
The importance of sleep should not be taken for granted, and employers have the power to help their employees take control of their sleep habits. You can offer access to sleep clinics or resources, which can either be virtual or in-person. You can also provide educational material (such as podcasts) to help everyone learn about how to better take care of their sleep habits, and also minimize wild schedule changes, to keep everyone in the same sleep pattern.
Especially in the age of working-from-home, social connectedness is a challenge that leaders have to tirelessly work to facilitate. Aside from using incredible virtual team building activities (such as ours, cough cough), you can encourage group activities, such as fitness activities (a walk in the park) or lunch-and-learn sessions. You can also keep an eye out for overly-cliquey groups, which can quickly make others feel isolated.
While grabbing some drinks after work is a favorite pastime for many, it’s also important to support those who struggle with alcohol management. You can offer anonymous and free alcohol management services and access to therapists. Also ensure that your health insurance covers different treatment options, such as inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.
Kabloom is Here to Support Healthy Teams
It’s incredible that you want to take steps to support your employees on their continued journey of mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re looking to encourage connectivity, trust, and social connectedness, we’re here with the best virtual team building activities out there today.
Our fresh (and incredibly fun) experiences, such as holiday parties, stand up comedy, and graffiti workshops will revitalize your team, and truly bring your people together. Contact us today so we can curate the perfect experience for you and your team.