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10 ways to improve your employees' wellness

When it comes to employee wellness, you could be forgiven for focusing most of your efforts and budget on those who are ill or long-term disabled. Even though this is money well spent, it is important not to overlook a much bigger ‘at risk’ group.

On average, 55%1 of the workforce are living with key health risks which impact their health and productivity, including:

  • bad nutritional habits,
  • smoking,
  • drinking excessively, or
  • not getting enough exercise.

A lot of employees are also affected by less visible factors impacting their wellbeing. This can include stress, financial worries and mental health issues. Absenteeism and presenteeism are two results of these. Between them they account for nearly 8%1 of a typical company’s wage bill.

So what can you do?

Getting employee wellness right doesn’t need to be particularly costly or difficult. Here are 10 steps to get you started:

  1. Use rewards and personalisation in your benefits strategy
    Make sure your employees not only know about your programmes and benefits, but actually want to get involved.
  2. Support your communications with technology 
    Nowadays, we expect to be able to access most things online and that they will be personalised to our needs. Apply the same thinking when it comes to your employee benefits reward programme and your communications.
  3. Offer education and advice
    Make sure your employees have all the information they need to support their physical, emotional and financial wellness. Keep it simple, but informative and geared towards the actual needs and circumstances of your employees.
  4. Offer flexible working options that meet your employees’ needs
    This can reduce stress levels and make your employees feel a lot more comfortable about the balance between their work and private life.
  5. Provide access to free or subsidised activity trackers and apps
    Wearable technology can help to get your employees engaged in activity programmes. Access to fitness activities that can be integrated into the work day or lunch break will also encourage good habits.
  6. Offer access to health screenings and online health risk assessments
    Most of us are concerned about our health, at least to some degree. And many of us would like to check up on our health more regularly, if it wasn’t for the long waiting times associated with a visit to the GP. Online platforms or apps that give employees easy and quick access to health consultations by GPs are another option you should consider.
  7. Get your leadership team on board
    Managers arguably have the biggest impact on their teams’ wellbeing, as this is in many ways connected to their motivation; the communications and support they receive; and the levels of stress they experience in their day-to-day work. To make this work, line-managers need to be properly trained.
  8. Help your employees stop smoking
    Smoking is one of the main risk factors for many people. At the same time, more than a third of them actually want to stop. Education and advice can help them get started.
  9. Offer employee assistance programmes
    Employee health and wellness includes physical, mental and financial factors. So, you should offer employees access to confidential assistance programs to help them cope with any issues they might face.
  10. Provide private medical insurance options
    Reduce your employees' financial worries and stress levels, by offering additional medical cover should they need it.

Ultimately, caring for your employees’ wellbeing is a win-win for both sides. As an employer, you can enjoy cost savings due to reduced absence, and from increased productivity. To really benefit from these programmes, they need to be strategically aligned and not one-off initiatives.

1Based on data from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace research (Reilly Associates WPAI methodology)

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