Benefits managers and HR pros alike know the two-fold benefits well-being programs provide: a healthier, more engaged workforce and increased productivity. So it’s no wonder more companies are prioritizing such programs.
A large majority of employers (78%) call employee well-being a key component of company strategy, according to Virgin Pulse’s 2017 State of the Industry report. In addition, 87% say they have already invested, or plan to invest, in some type of employee well-being initiative, and 97% agree with the decidedly uncontroversial statement that worker well-being positively influences engagement.
“Until recently, employee well-being has been viewed as a ‘nice to have,’ but with more and more research directly connecting employee well-being to business productivity and performance, business leaders are recognizing it as a ‘must have’ from a business perspective,” says Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, a wellness technology provider. “The proof is in the data that emerging-companies that invest in employee well-being see lower turnover, less absenteeism, stronger stock performance and higher business productivity. That’s a compelling business case.”
But what programs do employers say are advancing wellness and engagement? Opinions seem to differ. Forty-one percent of the organizations surveyed by Virgin Pulse are still in the process of defining employee engagement or developing a plan to enhance it.
Further, a little less than a third (29%) of respondents have established engagement programs to fit specific needs or offer an integrated solution that links to organizational strategy, the report notes.
One of the more striking differences between the older, or more “mature” organizations, accounting for 29% of those surveyed, and the rest of the employers is that the great majority of the former group conducts annual employee engagement surveys, compared to less than half of other employers.
By completing these surveys, some roadblocks employers say they are encountering in engaging more employees in well-being programs include issues such as organization culture (48%), budgets (47%) and communications (30%), the study notes.
For benefits managers, making sure that all employees have access to benefits and programs that address their full well-being — and having the ability to communicate those programs and measure usage and impact — is critical in proving the value of wellness programs, Boyce notes.
“Today, businesses can and should be looking beyond wellness and health cost savings and evaluating employee well-being programs in the context of the larger cultural and business value they deliver, such as increased employee engagement and retention, reduced safety incidents, decreased absenteeism and higher business productivity,” he adds.
In fact, a large majority of HR leaders view workplace culture as an important part of furthering employee well-being. Eighty percent have programs in place or plan to implement programs aimed at improving culture at the office.
Beginner organizations can jump-start their well-being initiatives by offering well-being programs, experiences and activities that engage all employees, not just a few, Boyce suggests. Social connections and team support are critical in building — and sustaining — cultures of well-being, so the more actively involved employees are in the program, the more successful it will be in driving the changes and outcomes that matter for individuals and organizations.
“As organizations continue to focus on individual well-being as a positive driver of company culture, they are going to see happier, healthier, more engaged employees and better business results, across the board,” he says. “That’s just good business sense.”
The best way to implement a robust program that meets the individual needs of employees —while simplifying management and communication for employers — is to find a well-being vendor that has a hub embedded with their solution, Boyce says.
A hub that provides a one-stop-shop experience by connecting all relevant programs into a single space allows employees to access all their resources in one interface while driving participation and usage. With the right well-being and benefits hub, employers will be able to integrate a broad range of HR and benefits programs and promote them to relevant employees and populations.
“Imagine being able to suggest your financial planning program to employees that are new to the workforce, physical activity programs to those who are most sedentary, and mindfulness programs to departments in the throes of their busy season,” Boyce says. “Simplification, employee engagement and personalization are key to building a robust well-being program.”
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