Poor employee health and wellbeing comes at a high price for companies, and costs UK businesses billions annually. For example, presenteeism, where employees come to work unwell and unable to function properly, costs the UK economy over £15 billion per year from a mental health perspective alone.
And if health trends continue in the wrong direction then these costs are only going to escalate. Fortunately, as a leader of your workplace you can help make a difference to your employee’s wellbeing by promoting healthy behaviours and introducing initiatives that help to reduce health risks, absenteeism and healthcare costs.
A wellbeing programme refers to initiatives put in place by an organisation to promote health, happiness and work-life balance for employees. Successful programmes adopt a holistic view of wellness that includes physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing.
Companies may wish to install their own wellness facilities to make it easier for staff to enjoy the benefits or to simply encourage more team members to come into work rather than staying at home.
From on-site leisure activities like table tennis, a gym or a low-impact form of exercise like golf simulator to add some healthy competition, to a chillout space where people can completely switch off from thinking about work, companies can provide physical, mental and social wellbeing programmes to bring people back to the office.
Physical wellbeing refers to the health and fitness of your employees. Initiatives may include access to fitness facilities or classes, nutrition education and information, quitting smoking support, health risk assessments and promoting active work environments, such as standing desks, regular breaks and walks.
Mental and emotional wellbeing refers primarily to psychological health. Effective strategies include access to counselling or coaching services, mental health education, mindfulness and meditation sessions and flexible work options. If you are an office-based workplace then flexible working is a quick way to implement a wellbeing initiative that provides an instant benefit to your staff.
Social wellbeing refers to community and relationships. Some examples include company sports teams and events, volunteering programmes, workplace clubs or support groups and social meetings. These are particularly important in companies with remote or hybrid working patterns, where social isolation is a factor, and 81% of under-35s fear loneliness from long-term home working.
Workplace wellness initiatives boost productivity through improved health, reduced illness and fewer absences. Fitness programmes and health education encourage employees to develop sustainable habits that lower disease risks and increase energy and stamina. When employees feel better, they work better.
Studies show workplace wellness programmes can decrease absenteeism by up to 19%, with 56% of employees engaged in these programmes taking fewer sick days. But it’s not just about physical health. Wellness programmes also build morale, motivation and workplace satisfaction which drive productivity; engaged, fulfilled employees want to work.
Effective communication and meaningful relationships at work energise and inspire people. Fitness classes or walking meetings provide opportunities for collaboration in a more casual atmosphere outside the usual office setting.
Extracurricular activities like book clubs, sports teams and volunteer groups bring together employees with common interests who may not typically interact in daily work activities. This leads to stronger connections being built, leading to greater trust levels and creativity through conversations happening in these social programme events.
Creating an employee wellness programme isn’t as simple as picking a few things and then everything will be fine. Companies must create initiatives that their employees are going to want, so the first step is to establish a wellbeing committee with representatives across the organisation. This helps to determine specific priorities and options based on employee feedback and interests.
Effective communication is key. Resources and programme offerings should be clearly communicated and participation encouraged through enthusiastic messaging from leadership.
Wellbeing programmes require investment but can pay dividends through reduced costs and increased performance and job satisfaction. When implemented properly, these types of worksite health promotion initiatives have been shown to have a significant positive impact on employee health, happiness, and productivity.
Wellbeing programmes aim to address health risks and behaviours that negatively impact individuals and organisations. A lack of physical activity, poor nutrition and stress can lead to illness, reduced performance, higher costs and absence.
Providing employees with nutrition education, support groups and access to healthy meal options are effective strategies. Lack of exercise or physical activity is another significant risk factor. Gym memberships, fitness classes, walking meetings, standing desks and workplace challenges can help motivate employees to become more active.
Employee assistance programmes, counselling and mental health first aid education are also useful tools. Supporting employees in developing sustainable healthy habits translates to a more productive, engaged and vital workforce.
Introducing a wellbeing programme requires thoughtful planning and execution. The following steps will help ensure a successful initiative:
With commitment to health and wellbeing, organisations can create meaningful change. Comprehensive, well-designed wellness programmes can positively impact company culture, productivity and employee satisfaction.
However, success depends on enthusiastic participation from leadership and staff alike in addition to programmes tailored to meet the specific needs of your organisation. By making employee wellbeing a priority, companies will thrive through a healthier, happier and higher performing workforce.
Comprehensive workplace wellness strategies that include physical, mental and social elements can significantly increase productivity, enhance communication and reduce absence levels throughout your workforce.
Similarly, the improved employee engagement levels are a great basis for a sustainable, high-performance culture that also helps you to recruit better, improve loyalty and reduce staff turnover levels.