8 mins. read

How to promote better employee wellness in the workplace

employee wellness in the workplace Perci Health

Key takeaways

  • There are many pillars to employee wellness: It encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health, social and financial wellbeing, and work-life balance.
  • Supporting employee wellness is good for individuals and businesses: Promoting employee wellness leads to happier and healthier employees. In turn, this increases productivity, reduces turnover, and enhances a company’s culture and public image.
  • Employee wellness should form an integral part of your overall business strategy: Rather than being a standalone consideration, wellness in the workplace should be woven into all activities, policies and initiatives.

The concept of employee wellness is not new, however, approaches to wellness in the workplace are constantly changing. Employers now acknowledge that employee wellbeing doesn’t just refer to physical health; it’s an overall positive state of being.

As a result, organisations are exploring ways to establish supportive work environments that not only promote good physical health but also psychological safety. Moreover, employee wellness strategies must recognise that an employee’s workload and working environment can have an impact on their life outside the workplace and vice versa.

In this article, we define employee wellness and discuss its importance and benefits. We also outline some of the steps that employers can take to support wellness in the workplace.

What is employee wellness?

Employee wellness refers to the overall wellbeing of employees. It comprises various aspects of physical, mental and emotional health, as well as social and financial wellbeing. The concept of employee wellness recognises that a healthy and happy workforce is not only beneficial for individual employees but also contributes to the success and productivity of an organisation.

Why is employee wellness important?

When an employer promotes wellness in the workplace, it can make individual employees happier and healthier. In turn, this leads to a more positive workplace culture where the workforce has better connections to management and colleagues and feels more valued. This contributes to the overall success and effectiveness of a company.

The benefits of employee wellness programmes

Employee wellness programmes are becoming increasingly common, with the global corporate wellness market size valued at $53 billion in 2022. And businesses can save money by investing in employee wellness. For example, a Harvard University study found that, on average, absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent on wellness.

But it isn’t just a good ROI that employers can achieve by focusing on wellness in the workplace. There are many benefits of employee wellness programmes that impact individual employees and businesses overall.

Improved productivity

Employee health and productivity are connected. When employees are physically and mentally healthy, their engagement in their work increases. Good wellbeing allows individuals to focus more effectively, maintain energy levels and make better decisions, ultimately contributing to an increase in productivity and efficiency.

Reduced absenteeism and employee turnover

By prioritising employee wellness, organisations can reduce absenteeism due to illness or stress-related issues. This is significant given that approximately 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2021/22.

When employees feel supported in their wellbeing, they are less likely to take unplanned days off or leave their current employer. This, in turn, reduces recruitment and training costs associated with high turnover rates.

Enhanced employee morale and satisfaction

A workplace that values employee wellness creates a positive work culture and demonstrates a commitment to employee wellbeing. This fosters a sense of appreciation and satisfaction among employees, leading to higher morale and job satisfaction.

Increased employee engagement and loyalty

Organisations that invest in employee wellness often experience higher levels of employee engagement and loyalty. When employees feel their employer values them, they are more likely to be committed to their work, show greater loyalty to their employer, and actively contribute to the success of the business.

Improved company image and attractiveness

Companies that prioritise employee wellness generate a more positive public image. Prospective employees are also more attracted to organisations that prioritise employee wellbeing, with 87% stating they consider the health and wellbeing packages a company offers when choosing an employer. Therefore, supporting employee wellness can help a business attract top talent.

Stress reduction and better mental health

Workplace stress can have a sizable impact on employees’ mental health; 79% of employed British adults say they experience work-related stress. By implementing wellness programmes that address stress management and mental health support, organisations can create a healthier work environment and reduce the negative effects of stress on employees.

How can employers better support wellness in the workplace?

Employers should not overlook the importance of health benefits to employees. These might include access to gym facilities, mental health support, fertility assistance, cancer care, wellness reimbursements, discounted or subsidised health insurance premiums, and flexible work arrangements to promote work-life balance. However, supporting employee wellbeing and promoting the overall wellness of your entire workforce, requires more than offering standalone employee health and wellbeing benefits.

Instead, supporting wellness in the workplace should be woven into all activities and form part of an organisation’s overall business strategy. Ways to promote employee wellness include:

Establishing a wellness programme

Employers should implement a comprehensive wellness programme that includes initiatives targeting physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Employers should tailor their wellness programme to the specific needs and preferences of their employees, and ensure they offer a range of resources and activities.

Promoting a healthy work environment

Create a workplace culture that values and promotes employee wellness. Even small changes to the working environment can make a big difference. For physical and mental health, encourage regular breaks, provide comfortable workspaces and promote ergonomic practices. For emotional and social wellness, foster open communication, respect, and support among team members and managers.

Educating and raising awareness

Conduct wellness workshops, seminars, and training sessions to educate employees about healthy lifestyles, stress management, mental health and other relevant topics. Provide resources, such as newsletters, intranet portals or wellness libraries, to promote ongoing education and awareness.

Encouraging physical activity

Create opportunities for physical activity within the workplace, such as walking meetings, standing desks or on-site fitness classes. Encourage employees to take regular breaks and engage in physical exercise. Consider organising team challenges or incentives to promote active lifestyles.

Supporting mental health

Nearly 15% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace. That’s why employers should implement policies and initiatives that support mental health, such as access to counselling services, mental health resources and stress management programmes. They should also train senior management to recognise signs of mental health issues and provide appropriate support and accommodations.

Fostering social connections

Encourage social interactions and a sense of community among employees. Organise team-building activities, social events, and volunteer opportunities that promote positive relationships and a supportive work environment.

Leading by example

Demonstrate leadership support for employee wellness by actively participating in wellness initiatives and promoting a healthy lifestyle. When leaders prioritise wellness it sends a positive message to employees and encourages their engagement.

Gathering employee feedback

Regularly seek feedback from employees regarding their wellness needs and preferences. Conduct surveys, focus groups or individual discussions to understand employee challenges and interests, and use this information to shape wellness initiatives and programmes.

Evaluating and adapting

Continuously assess the effectiveness of wellness programmes and initiatives. Monitor employee participation, measure outcomes, and gather feedback to identify areas for improvement, making adjustments as needed.

A comprehensive approach to employee wellness that weaves wellness in the workplace into every aspect of an organisation can make a marked difference in the lives of individual employees and benefit a business significantly.

In the UK, someone receives a cancer diagnosis every two minutes. This equates to a lot of working-age people navigating cancer and employment. This is why cancer’s impact on employees should be a key consideration of any employee wellness programme. Perci Health can help employers with this through our virtual care clinic, which provides those impacted by cancer who sign up for an account with tailored advice from cancer care specialists. Book a demo today to see for yourself how Perci Health can contribute to wellness in the workplace through our employer programme.

References

‘Who invented the weekend?’, bbc.co.uk, June 2023, https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zf22kmn

‘Corporate Wellness Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Service (Health Risk Assessment, Fitness), By End Use, By Category, By Delivery Model (Onsite, Offsite), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 – 2030’, grandviewresearch.com, June 2023, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/corporate-wellness-market

‘Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings’, healthaffairs.org, June 2023, https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0626

‘HSE publishes annual work-related ill-health and injury statistics for 2021/22’, hse.gov.uk, June 2023, https://press.hse.gov.uk/2022/11/23/hse-publishes-annual-work-related-ill-health-and-injury-statistics-for-2021-22

‘Win With Wellness — Attract And Retain Talent’, forbes.com, June 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2018/08/27/win-with-wellness-attract-and-retain-talent/

‘The 2020 UK workplace stress survey’, perkbox.com, June 2023, https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey

‘Mental health at work: statistics’, mentalhealth.org.uk, June 2023, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/mental-health-statistics/mental-health-work-statistics

‘Cancer Statistics for the UK’, cancerresearchuk.org, June 2023, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics-for-the-uk