While well-being and wellness programs have gained notoriety in the corporate arena over the last decade, 2020 and the work-from-home era turned wellness and well-being benefits from “nice bonuses” to “must-haves.”
Today’s employees are going through unprecedented hardships. For instance, working parents are juggling their careers with navigating remote learning with their children. Older workers are working past retirement age because of how Wall Street’s volatility impacted their retirement savings. Young workers are starting careers, isolated from friends, family and colleagues — and these are just a few of the new challenges facing today’s employees.
As a result, the demand and need to invest in mental health, well-being and wellness have never been more evident. It shouldn’t be a bonus — it should be a tool that companies offer as responsible employers who take care of their people.
However, in a post-pandemic reality, HR leaders have to think beyond the limited wellness programs of the past.
Well-being programs must acknowledge the state of the world and the varying needs of people. In other words, well-being can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, well-being programs have to consider that total wellness looks different for different people.
What Is Well-Being and Why It Matters
By definition, well-being is a broad term related to a person’s physical, mental, emotional and financial health. When discussing well-being in the workplace, one also has to take into account how a person’s job affects their overall health and happiness.
It’s a complicated subject that merges physical health, mental health, cognition and mood, and sense of purpose into one.
In short, a person’s well-being is a holistic, 365-degree view of an individual’s current state of existence.
As previously mentioned, wellness means different things to different people because peoples’ inherent struggles vary based on their life circumstances.
For example, a working parent’s quality of life might be improved with wellness benefits like childcare, so they don’t have to worry about who’s watching their kids during work. Plus, a free subscription to Headspace (the meditation app) would be a great reminder to take time for themselves. A subscription to a food delivery service would be nice, too.
An individual worker who lives with three roommates might prefer a monthly Starbucks budget instead of childcare, so they can work outside their cramped home. Plus, they might prefer Talk Space, the online therapy solution, instead of an app focused on mindfulness. They want the food delivery service subscription, though, because their food budget has been a little tight lately since they’ve been trying to pay off their student loans.
Obviously, these examples are purely hypothetical, but it’s easy to see how different life circumstances impact life struggles and wellness desires. To make things a bit more tangible for HR professionals, Gallup released a list of the five elements that comprise a person’s well-being. They are:
Career: Is the person happy with their job?
Physical: Does the person have enough health and energy, both emotionally and physically, to do everything they need and want to do every day? (In Gallup’s list, physical health also encompasses mental health.)
Community: Does the person like where they live and work? Do they feel safe and feel a sense of pride in their community?
Financial: Does the person’s economic life allow them to live and exist without financial stress?
Social: Does the person have supportive relationships in their lives?
When working to improve employee well-being, a company should focus on offering lifestyle benefits that cater to these five areas.
24 Ways to Improve Employee Well-Being
These 24 strategies are some of the ways companies are using this information to create wellness programs that incorporate these five elements.
1. Improve the Office Space
Improving the physical office is a straightforward way some supervisors enrich employee well-being. Things like adding natural light, getting rid of cubicles and providing comfortable desk chairs are simple ways to boost morale.
Since the office space has moved remote for many people, CEOs are finding ways to make the home office experience better. Some are doing this via scheduled hangouts to check in with their employees and through positive virtual meetings. The reality is that part of improving the office lies in improving the office culture.
2. Allow Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements are proving to be a high-priority desire for today’s workers. From providing a remote option to allowing flexible hours, there’s no shortage of opportunities to allow for more flexible work arrangements.
3. Provide Development Opportunities
Companies provide classes, tuition reimbursement, mentorship programs, work seminars and more to ensure their employees have enough on-the-job development to feel fulfilled.
4. Have a Clear Growth Path
Employees who know they can grow with their company feel a stronger sense of job security and career satisfaction. Companies who want to improve employee well-being should find ways to show their people they have plenty of room to grow their careers in their current company.
5. Offer Plenty of Paid Time Off
76% of today’s employees experience burnout occasionally. Burnout contributes to a whole host of physical and mental health problems. That’s why an increasing number of employers are making sure their people are getting plenty of time off to relax and pursue their passions outside of work by offering generous PTO packages.
6. Provide Comprehensive Health Insurance
A critical crux to well-being is physical health. Providing comprehensive health insurance is a way to increase the chances that employees will see doctors and seek medical care when they need it. Health insurance plans should cover dental, vision and regular mental health appointments for maximum employee wellness.
7. Employee Wellness Initiatives
Companies can help improve their team wellness with in-house initiatives like daily step challenges, “ride your bike to work” days or company-wide dietary challenges. Some organizations go as far as incentivizing these initiatives with rewards for completing or winning challenges.
8. Offer Fitness Classes as a Fringe Benefit
On-site gyms or fitness classes are another way companies help improve their team’s health. By offering on-site fitness options, employees get access to equipment and classes they might not otherwise have access to. Alternatively, other companies provide memberships to gyms and pay for their employees to take fitness classes outside of the office.
9. Provide Mindfulness Meditation
From 2018 to 2019, there was a 37% increase in stress-related absences across the United States. Some companies help their employees battle this stress by providing on-site meditation classes, access to meditation seminars or daily meditation time for their employees. Other companies provide their employees with access to meditation with premium meditation apps like Headspace.
10. Promote Mental Health Awareness
In addition to providing insurance that provides mental health coverage and therapy sessions, many companies also work to increase mental health awareness. Through seminars, on-site therapy or by creating a culture that encourages good mental health, organizations are working to improve well-being by normalizing mental health issues and helping their employees address them. Some even offer subscriptions to companies such as Talk Space.
11. Encourage Employees to Take Sick Days
Companies should encourage employees to stay home if they’re sick for the sake of the employee and their coworkers. In today’s culture, many hard workers don’t want to risk falling behind to take a sick day. However, employers can easily create a healthier team simply by creating a culture that encourages its people to stay home when they’re ill.
12. Offer Healthy Snacks
Offering healthy snacks is a terrific and straightforward way many organizations improve their employees’ physical and emotional well-being at work.
13. Consider Adding Volunteer Days
Employees feel more fulfilled if their company has a greater purpose or allows them to pursue a greater mission. This is especially true with millennials and Gen Z workers. Allowing employees paid time to volunteer helps create a sense of community within the company and enables employees to take greater pride in their work and their community.
14. Focus on Company Culture
There’s no shortage of benefits from positive company culture. From more engaged employees to better numbers, improving company culture is a terrific way to increase a team’s overall well-being.
15. Provide Tickets to Local Events
Some companies provide tickets to local events to help their employees feel excited about their local communities. It’s also a terrific way to incentivize and benefit employees in a meaningful way.
16. Encourage a Culture of Recognition
People are much happier and more fulfilled with regular recognition and feedback. Creating a culture of recognition through things like peer-to-peer recognition and formal supervisor recognition is a proven tactic to create a positive and engaged work community.
17. Offer Financial Planning Benefits
Financial stress can result in severe anxiety. That’s why many companies choose to offer a host of financial planning benefits to their employees. By offering classes, software, one-on-one coaching and more, companies are finding creative ways to ease their employees’ financial burdens.
18. Offer Peace-of-Mind Benefits
Part of financial stress revolves around future planning and “what-if” scenarios. Companies offer peace-of-mind benefits like life insurance, retirement plans and disability insurance to help their employees ease the extra stress of future planning.
19. Provide Fringe Lifestyle Benefits for Necessities
Another way that companies can help ease financial stress is by offering fringe benefits to cover necessary services. This can include transportation support, food delivery stipends, covering caretaker costs and more.
20. Consider a Debt Repayment Program
80% of Americans have some debt, and it can be a heavy burden. That’s why many companies are offering debt repayment programs to their employees. These programs help repay a portion of employee debt or help the employees with education on how to pay their debt off faster. This is especially popular with student loan debt, as more companies offer student loan debt help to win over millennial and Gen Z employees.
21. Encourage Meaningful Work Friendships
People who have close friends at their jobs are seven times more likely to be productive, engaged and satisfied at work. Work friends also contribute to overall well-being by helping people fulfill their social needs as human beings. Companies can improve well-being by providing opportunities for their employees to build meaningful friendships with one another.
22. Offer Parental Leave
Many people feel forced to choose between meaningful careers and families. As a result, it leaves them lacking in one of the two areas of well-being (career or social). Businesses can help their people have rich family lives and thriving careers by offering generous parental leave. Innovative companies are also offering paid fertility treatment and egg freezing to help their employees inside and outside of work.
23. Promote a Work-Life Balance
PTO and flexible work arrangements help promote a good work-life balance, and expert HR executives know that promoting a good work-life balance can require a complete paradigm shift within the company. For example, the CEO could put their own hobby on the company calendar, so their team knows they have the freedom to follow their own passions, too.
Enforcing hard stop times, discouraging after-hour emails and investing in employees’ lives and interests outside of the office are just a few ways companies can make sure their employees have a healthy work-life balance.
24. Host Social Events for Employees
Social events are a terrific way to bring employees together and foster a sense of community within a company. They help employees get to know each other and their supervisors as human beings outside the office. It’s one common tactic companies use to strengthen bonds and contribute to their team’s need for meaningful social connection. Just make sure remote employees can participate in social events as well, so they don’t feel left out.
Value Your People to Increase Your Value
As William H. Lever, founder of the Lever Brothers, once said, “If we leave the human factor out of our business calculations, we shall be wrong every time.”
These 24 ideas are only a few ways companies can prioritize their employees’ well-being in this time of unprecedented obstacles and changes. Since well-being is such an individualized thing, customized benefits just make sense.
Customized lifestyle benefits help companies address their employees’ well-being needs holistically and ensure all employees have their wellness needs met.
Fringe’s custom benefits platform helps responsible employers take care of their people by allowing employees to choose lifestyle benefits that make them feel happy, healthy and whole.
Check out a demo today to see how Fringe can improve the well-being of your team.