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It’s the new year! And many workers are setting resolutions related to their health and wellness. Whether it’s weight loss, better time management, or saving money—we all have things we want to improve this year. As an employer, this time of year provides an ideal opportunity to promote employee health and wellness.
According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Health Promotion, only half of employers offer a health or wellness program. Since well-being is top of mind in the new year for employees, now is the time for organizations to get involved.
Employer-sponsored health and wellness programs improve job performance—because healthier employees are happier employees! By understanding the types of well-being, employers can determine all the different ways they can promote their employees’ health and wellness this year.
Before getting into things, it might be helpful to define what health and wellness are.
Health is a state of being, while wellness is the process of living a healthy lifestyle. We may not be perfectly healthy—especially as some things are out of our control—but if we are constantly working towards better health, we have a positive state of wellness.
When we think of health and wellness, the physical aspects come to mind first, such as our:
Physical health and wellness in the workplace are important because it is impacted by the work environment. Some work environments are more likely to lead to illness and injury than others—such as hospitals and chemical and manufacturing plants.
Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellness. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. And if poor mental health goes unchecked for too long, it can lead to an inability to handle stress, make good choices, and relate to others.
Employee mental well-being has become more important as society breaks down the barriers and stigma around mental health. And with the ongoing pandemic and other current events, work stress is affecting more people. So it’s an important part of our overall health.
Financial wellness includes a variety of factors that relate to one’s current standing and relationship with money. Those doing financially well have the freedom and ability to handle their present and future financial needs.
Financial wellness has become more complex over time. As consumers have easier access to student loans, lines of credit, buying homes, and investing—their financial wellness is put at risk. And as automation and technology make buying a variety of goods easier, accumulating too much debt is a common problem.
There are many ways that employers can promote physical, mental, and financial health and wellness. But most efforts will rely on providing benefits, offering resources, and encouraging employee participation.
The most traditional way to promote employee health and wellness is through benefits. Providing health insurance is one of the most desired benefits. But it also does a lot to support employees and their families. Health insurance provides peace of mind to manage accidents, life changes, or chronic conditions.
But many health insurance benefits can go further than that. Other ways to use your benefits to promote employee health and wellness:
And don’t forget financial wellness benefits are just as important. Retirement planning is the second most important benefit to employees after health insurance. It can be a lot to try and offer every benefit out there, but there are several low-cost financial wellness benefits that go a long way in promoting employees’ financial health.
Organizations don’t always have the financial means to provide benefits to support employees’ physical, mental, and financial health. If that’s the case, there are still ways to support your employees with other resources.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPS) and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are more formalized approaches to giving employees the ability to talk about their mental health concerns. But there are also fun ways to approach less sensitive health and wellness efforts.
Consider one or more of these options to provide your employees access to health and wellness without a huge investment:
To make sure your employees are taking advantage of everything you have to offer, you should make sure your management is trained on how to exhibit healthy behaviors, identify potential mental illnesses, stress, or burnout, and communicate appropriately with employees on the topic of health and wellness.
Companies that regularly communicate about their health and wellness programs see more participation. But sometimes providing an incentive is what’s necessary to get employees to engage. For example, you could cover more of your employees’ healthcare premiums if they participate in at least one or two of the wellness programs you offer.
Taking the steps above creates a culture and environment built around health and wellness. And as the past couple of years have shown us, employee health and wellness is critical to a successful business. To learn more about how to improve your employees’ wellness, particularly when it comes to workplace stress, download our guide below.