According to research conducted by Mercer in 2017, 53% of employees want their company to focus more on their health and wellness. For those companies who are stepping up and implementing wellbeing strategies, they are likely to see several business benefits including improved employee retention. Research conducted in conjunction with Ireland’s 2017 National Workplace Wellbeing Day found that six out of ten employees are more likely to stay long term with an employer that shows concern for their wellbeing.
While every organisation is different there are two fundamental drivers which will make or break the success of a wellbeing strategy. The first is board level backing. Whether your organisation is 20 or 20,000 people a wellbeing strategy will need to be backed by top level directors and integrated within an organisation’s overall business strategy. The second, which is overlooked by many organisations, is having a defined owner responsible for delivering the strategy. Often wellbeing is amalgamated within the traditional HR role but is frequently not defined as an aspect of the job specification or contract. Without ownership or accountability, a wellbeing strategy is destined to fail. That’s not to say their needs to be role created to manage workplace wellbeing as depending on the size of an organisation that may not be necessary. But by simply formalising responsibility within an existing role – ideally with someone who is passionate about wellbeing, this will yield greater success.
Assuming you have board level backing and an eager owner, now how do you create a high impact wellbeing strategy?
- Define a Healthy Workplace – for every organisation the definition of what a healthy workplace is will vary. Defining this for your organisation at the start provides a reference point for future programs or ideas – will implementing X help us achieve Y
- Ask Your Workforce – Use a survey to gather feedback before acting. Anecdotal feedback is great but to gain a true insight into employee perception and needs leverage a survey
- Outline Measurements – A reoccurring theme surrounding wellbeing strategies is how best to measure them. Do you measure impact or engagement? Engagement is a key metric as it highlights several things including awareness of programs. Impact can be more challenging to measure. Monitoring retention figures and absenteeism over a long period of time can provide some insights but in general impact can be hard to quantify
- Set Objectives or Goals – Once you have outlined your measurement metric set targets, whether they are usage numbers, survey scores or certification (such as great place to work). Defining a goal will give your wellbeing driver something to work towards
- A Multi-Tiered Approach – human health is not merely physical, it is also emotional and mental. To have the most positive impact a workplace wellbeing strategy needs to address all three areas and account for everyone in an organisation. Healthy eating, getting active, manager and peer feedback, social events, learning, and mental health support should all feature as part of a wellbeing strategy
- Plan Long-term – even the most comprehensive wellbeing strategies won’t have an impact in the short-term. Invest in long-term programs and allocate sufficient resources to drive them
- Tie it All Together – use every event, challenge or tool to link back to other initiatives. For example, a guest speaker could refer attendees to an upcoming company charity drive or the running club etc. Layering strategies will ensure each program or initiative compliments the next
- Communicate New & Old – there are lots of tips out there for launching a new wellbeing program or tool but it’s equally important to keep existing initiatives in people’s sights.
The overarching objective for a healthy workplace strategy should be to cultivate an environment which facilitates positive behaviour change. It is important to take into consideration any unique challenges your workforce or environment might present. Is your workforce of a specific age demographic, are they remote or mobile? Plan for these challenges and strive to meet the needs of those most in-need.
Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager – Wrkit