By Katie Kicinski, Health and Wellness Program Manager, Independent Health
The everyday choices individuals make are important to their overall health. Since most adults spend more than half of their waking hours working, employers have the unique opportunity to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors and influence real change with their employees by offering worksite wellness programs.
Of course, today’s employee is different than even 10 years ago. The duties, roles, expectations and demands of the workday and everyday life have driven that change. At the same time, wellness programs have evolved to meet this changing landscape and employee. Now, instead of just focusing on the physical health of their workforce, companies have become more interested in addressing all aspects of their employees’ well-being.
Supporting the wellness of the WHOLE employee
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employers are embracing holistic wellness programs as a way to attract and retain top talent, as well as to improve their productivity. When a holistic approach is integrated into a corporate wellness program, employees often feel more valued and motivated in the work they do, which leads to a healthier, more productive workforce.
For organizations that are looking to improve employee engagement by incorporating holistic wellness initiatives into their workplace programs, there are five main dimensions of wellness they should consider:
- Physical – This dimension of wellness refers to the general health, including exercise, nutrition, sleep, weight management, disease management and preventive care. Employers can incorporate this component into their employee wellness program by organizing lunchtime walking, running or bicycling groups, providing healthy office snacks or hosting annual flu shot clinics.
- Emotional – It’s all about how well individuals manage and cope with stressors and feelings, respond to life’s challenges and adapt to change. Employers can help improve their workforce’s emotional health by simply encouraging employees to take regular breaks to stretch and walk. They may also choose to pay for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can help address a broad and complex body of issues affecting an employee’s mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders.
- Financial – Personal financial security has a major impact on one’s well-being. An effective financial wellness program should encourage budgeting, emergency savings, debt elimination and retirement planning. You may want to consider bringing in your 401(k)-plan administrator for one-on-one sessions or a lunch and learn to help answer any questions your employees may have about their financial wellness. In addition, offering employees a Health Savings Account (HSA) can help them take control of their current health care costs while also allowing them to save for the future.
- Work – Purpose and happiness in one’s job and feeling supported and engaged while at work contribute to not only individual well-being, but productivity and engagement as well. Hosting an annual Employee Appreciation Day or developing an employee awards program can go a long way in making workers feel valued. Creating an environment that prioritizes work/life balance is also important. Employers can institute procedures, actions, and expectations that enable employees to pursue more balanced lives, such as flexible work schedules and paid time off (PTO) policies. Providing your leaders and managers with the tools they need to support employees on their well-being needs is also key.
- Social – Interpersonal relationships depend on good communications skills, respecting others, and creating a support system that includes family members, friends and coworkers. Employers can promote social wellness by sponsoring events and activities outside of the workplace that bring employees and their families together. Giving employees a paid day off to volunteer in the community is also a good way to get them engaged.
Bringing it all together for employers
Those in charge of an organization’s corporate wellness program may want to re-assess its structure and offerings to consider incorporating the five dimensions of wellness into their efforts. If your company’s health plan coordinates your wellness program, that could be a place to start, too.
Independent Health’s FitWorks® Prime worksite wellness program was recently enhanced to include new online health and wellness challenges and onsite educational programs that focus on stress management, mindfulness, work/life balance and financial fitness. We also updated our Well-Being Assessment earlier this year to put a greater emphasis on the five dimensions of wellness and help our members better understand the impact their overall well-being has on their health.