- Employee health and wellbeing is complex: It describes the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial aspects of an individual, but is different for each person.
- Promoting employee health and wellbeing has many benefits: It can enhance job satisfaction, motivation,productivity, engagement and work-life balance, while reducing presenteeism and absenteeism. These factors also improve business profitability.
- Involve employees throughout the process: The creation and implementation of an employee health and wellbeing strategy should involve employees at all stages, including consultation, planning and feedback.
A health and wellbeing strategy is a holistic approach to improving the physical, mental and emotional health of employees in the workplace. It involves the creation of policies, programmes and initiatives that prioritise employee wellbeing, to promote a happier and healthier workforce.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of an employee health and wellbeing strategy in the workplace, including the benefits to individual employees and the overall business. We will also outline how to set goals for an employee health and wellbeing strategy, and the steps required to create, implement and monitor a strategy effectively.
What is employee health and wellbeing?
Before we can begin to address how to create an effective employee health and wellbeing strategy, it is first necessary to define what we mean by health and wellbeing.
Health and wellbeing constitute the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial aspects of a person’s life. They are different for everyone, however, some general contributors to good health and wellbeing include a nutritious diet, a sense of purpose and belonging, and stress management.
Why is an employee health and wellbeing strategy important?
A health and wellbeing strategy is essential for a workplace as it helps to promote a healthy and happy workforce. This is important as employees are integral to the success of any business. It also promotes diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI), which can contribute to employee health and wellbeing.
Fundamentally, an employee health and wellbeing strategy demonstrates that you are a person-centric workplace and that you value your employees. It also indicates that, as an employer, you recognise the different life experiences that employees have and want to provide each with the support and tools they need to thrive.
The benefits of an employee health and wellbeing strategy
A comprehensive employee health and wellbeing strategy offers several benefits to both employees and employers. From an employee perspective, it can contribute to improving their overall health and wellbeing, leading to increased job satisfaction and higher levels of engagement. It can also help to reduce stress levels, thereby improving mental health and work-life balance.
From an employer perspective, an employee health and wellbeing strategy can positively affect employee retention rates, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and increase productivity and profitability.
What are the goals of an employee health and wellbeing strategy?
The overall goal of an employee health and wellbeing strategy should be to identify and address any health and wellbeing issues that employees may be facing, with the aim of improving them. The strategy should also promote a culture of wellness in the workplace, where you encourage employees to prioritise their health and wellbeing.
However, there will also be more specific goals that are unique to your business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to setting strategy objectives; what you want to achieve will depend on the needs of your employees. For example, if you establish that a high proportion of your employees report feeling isolated and lonely, you might focus your efforts on improving social wellbeing by organising group activities and offering employees tickets to external events.
What to include in an employee health and wellbeing strategy
A comprehensive employee health and wellbeing strategy should incorporate components that support all aspects of health and wellbeing. The CIPD has identified seven interrelated domains of wellbeing:
- Health – including physical health, physical safety and mental health
- Good work – which incorporates like working environment, job satisfaction and communication
- Values and principles – such as dignity at work, DEI and building trust
- Collective and social – this encompasses team working, healthy relationships and involvement in decision-making
- Personal growth – which covers career development, creativity and lifelong learning
- Good lifestyle choices – promoting exercise and healthy eating
- Financial wellbeing – such as fair pay, retirement planning and personal finance advice
Creating and implementing an employee health and wellbeing strategy
Creating and implementing an employee health and wellbeing strategy can feel daunting, but following a structured process can help make the process easier and ensure that the finished product is the best it can be.
Create an employee wellbeing committee
If your company does not already have one, consider creating a task force to help oversee the implementation of an employee health and wellbeing strategy. This committee should consist of representatives from different departments within the organisation, as well as employees at different levels.
Assess current employee health and wellbeing
Before creating a wellbeing strategy, it is important to assess the current state of employee health and wellbeing. You cannot do this effectively without involving your employees. Employee surveys, focus groups and interviews will give your employees a platform to share their feelings and put forward ideas.
Identify areas for improvement
Once the current state of employee health and wellbeing has been assessed, the next step is to identify areas for improvement. You can do this by analysing the data you have collected from employee consultation. This step aims to establish if and where there are any gaps between what you are currently offering and what your employees need or would value.
Document the strategy
By now, you should have a good idea of what you want your employee health and wellbeing strategy to look like, with guidance from the results of the previous research stages. However, for the strategy to be as effective as possible, you need to document the finer details of what it will entail.
It can be helpful to adopt a SMART approach to creating your employee health and wellbeing strategy. Make sure that each part of your strategy is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. To do this, try to answer the following questions:
- What aspect(s) of employee health and wellbeing are you targeting?
- What support, tools, programs, and initiatives will you be offering employees?
- How does the strategy meet the needs of employees and the business?
- What entitlement will employees have?
- What are the costs?
- What are the goals of the strategy?
- How does the strategy tie in with larger business objectives?
- Who will be involved in implementing, maintaining, and reviewing the strategy?
- How will you inform employees about the strategy?
- Which communication channels/methods will you be using?
- What is the timeframe for implementing the strategy?
- How long will the strategy be in place for?
- How will you measure the success of the strategy?
- What will the review and revision process include and when will this take place?
Present your case to stakeholders
Once you have put together the details of your employee health and wellbeing strategy, the next step is to communicate your vision to stakeholders. For implementation to be effective, you’ll need senior leadership and board members to not only understand the strategy but be fully behind it.
Ensure you are clear on the strategy’s goals and explain how you will measure its success. Be transparent about what implementing the strategy will cost and the resources it will take. Finally, explain how the health and wellbeing strategy will tie into the business’ overall objectives.
Roll out the strategy
When the time comes to roll out an employee health and wellbeing strategy, communication is key. Define the delivery channels and ensure that employees fully understand what you are offering, and how to access the tools and support.
Just like the needs of employees differ, so will the ways you communicate with them. For example, you may be able to deliver a presentation for on-site workers whereas for remote employees, a virtual webinar is more appropriate.
Measuring the success of your employee health and wellbeing strategy
Measuring the success of a health and wellbeing strategy is essential to determining whether it is effective. You can do this through employee surveys, focus groups and interviews, as well as through analysis of employee health and wellbeing data.
For example, if one of your goals was to reduce absenteeism due to mental health, you can look at employee timesheets and call-ins to see if this has been achieved. Or if increasing employee motivation was a priority, you can ask employees to complete an anonymous engagement survey to establish if their views have changed.
Regularly review your employee health and wellbeing strategy
The challenges and needs of your employees will be constantly evolving and changing. As such, so should your employee health and wellbeing strategy. To ensure your strategy is fit for purpose, you should routinely consult with your employees to better understand the areas of their health and wellbeing where they feel they would benefit from support.
For instance, if your company adopted remote working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues and physical health anxiety may have been prevalent among employees. However, if there has been a transition to more staff being in the office, the safety of the working environment and work-life balance may now be their most pressing concerns.
At present, 1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. This means that cancer affects the health and wellbeing of a huge number of working people. Find out more about how Perci Health can help employers incorporate specialist cancer support into their employee health and wellbeing strategy.
‘Wellbeing at work’, cipd.org, May 2023, https://www.cipd.org/en/knowledge/factsheets/well-being-factsheet/
‘Cancer’, nhs.uk, May 2023, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/