by Tarin Calmeyer
Wellness is certainly on everyone’s mind lately, and even more so as we all shift our workplace environments to virtual/remote. But why should you, as a leader, seek out and promote workplace wellness? It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s true that effective corporate wellness programs offer both tangible and intangible benefits.
Firstly, when a company has appealing wellness programs, it builds a stronger brand through happier employees and the ability to attract top talent. In fact, 88% of employees said they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer when responding to a recent Virgin Health survey. Companies with effective wellness offerings also experience lower turnover rates, as well as increased productivity, engagement, and morale. Financially, they also see healthcare cost savings ($3.27 for every dollar spent) and absenteeism cost savings ($2.73 for every dollar spent), according to a study published in the Health Affairs Journal.
So, whether you’ve known for years about the benefits of bringing wellness into your workplace, or you’re just now jumping on the bandwagon, I wanted to take some time to write out a list of ways you can start prioritizing the wellbeing of your team. Here are seven ways to start leading your company in establishing a culture of workplace wellness.
#1: Lead by Example
There’s a difference between actions and words. If your team never sees you prioritizing your wellness, then they’ll be hesitant to focus on their own journey, no matter what you say. Educate your employees on why wellness matters and give them permission to prioritize their wellness by doing so yourself. Really take a moment to define what you want your company culture to look like and build a community of support. And remember, you can’t give your best work to others if your own wellness foundation is not secure.
#2: Establish and Maintain Work Boundaries
When your team is working remotely, it’s easy to slip into a habit of working long hours and expecting everyone to always be available. The workday is still just a part of your day though, so understand when it’s time to switch off. Even during the workday, employees all have different demands that they need to address. Respect their time by scheduling appointments so that they see you on their calendar and starting and ending meetings on time. Lastly, manage expectations. Talk to your team about the work boundaries you plan to establish and get their buy-in so that everyone is on the same page.
#3: Gamify Healthier Choices
It’s hard to change habits, but with gamification it becomes much easier to start something new and maintain changes. Through bringing gameplay elements like a point system or competition with others into the equation, you can make boring or challenging activities fun. Something as simple as a team challenge can get everyone moving and trying new things. The truly effective wellness initiatives, however, ensure that the push to prioritize wellness is a company-wide effort. When more people are involved, it becomes more exciting to share and celebrate wins.
#4: Utilize Flexible Work Schedules
Sometimes it feels like workdays are divided into two parts, meetings, and time when you can actually get some work done. And with remote work, the tendency is to schedule more and more meetings so that nothing slips through the cracks. However, your team needs time to focus on individual productivity, and they deserve autonomy. Minimize distracting meetings and really focus on using your time efficiently during the necessary ones. Lastly, remind your team to take breaks! Try setting up daily work-break rituals so that everyone is moving physically and waking up mentally, coming back to work refreshed and more engaged.
#5: Have Compassion for Your Colleagues
Like I mentioned earlier, working from home has unique challenges! Be adaptable and respect one another when your team has “unprofessional” moments. After all, a kid running into the room is a force to be reckoned with. Everyone is doing their best to take care of themselves and their families right now, so if a quick meeting is the only time during a packed day that your employee can eat a snack, let him take care of himself without any unnecessary remarks.
#6: Ask for Feedback
When examining new workplace wellness initiatives, the key is to remember that different things work for different people. Some people love competitions, while others may work better with an incentive or achievement award. Find out what your employees enjoy, ask for feedback and test out different ideas and activities to see if they work for your team. And remember, be open to new experiences!
#7: Launch a Wellness Program at Work
If you’re looking to create a wellness program, it’s important to start with research. Find out what your team needs and beyond that, what they want. What are your team’s wellness goals? Make wellness part of the daily conversation, sharing work from home tips and talking about how you’re keeping yourself active and well. My company, Remote Team Wellness, gives free organizational wellness assessments conducted by an expert corporate wellness specialist. Get tips on how to make your team happier and healthier.
As you can see, there are many small steps that managers and employee leaders can take to build a workplace where employees feel valued and supported in their wellness journeys. It’s an effort worth making not only for your employees, but for your company as well. I hope that you’ll make time to prioritize wellness at your company, and that these tips help you get started.