What is an employee wellness program?

An employee wellness program is a benefits system designed to help personnel maintain physical, emotional, and mental health. A wellness program should aim to provide an array of creative options that enable employees to nurture their well-being inside or outside the office. 

Why should HR leaders care about employee wellness programs?

Encouraging staff to address stress and anxiety, maintain a harmonious work-life balance, manage chronic illness, and practice self-care can boost work performance, productivity, engagement, morale, presenteeism, and retention. Moreover, facilitating an effective wellness program can potentially reduce health care costs.

What can HR leaders do to implement a successful employee wellness program?

HR leaders can make well-being essentials available to employees through these practices:

  • Offer diverse options. Allow each employee to determine what wellness means to them. A program that offers unintimidating, user-friendly options for employees of different ages and life stages will feel inviting to everyone. Parents with young children, for example, may appreciate reliable child care options coupled with an onsite gym, while a single millennial may find group nature hikes meaningful and revitalizing. 
  • Address mental and emotional health. Incorporating a licensed Employee Assistance Program or a professional support group system and counseling services can increase overall well-being and employee engagement. By addressing anxiety or lack of confidence, for example, personnel can overcome hurdles hindering their overall health and career growth.
  • Align the wellness program with the company culture. Company policies need to align with the employee wellness program and promote practicing self-care. Emphasizing employee welfare as a fundamental company value will naturally encourage employees to prioritize investing in themselves and take advantage of the wellness program.
  • Fit employees’ needs into the budget. HR leaders can survey personnel to find out which wellness choices they would find helpful or enjoyable. There are excellent options for every budget level— from a group volunteering initiative at a local organic farm to providing fresh, healthy food at the office– offering the right opportunities can improve workforce wellness. 
  • Build trust. Employees, especially those who struggle with chronic illness, can gain motivation to take advantage of the wellness program if they trust their CEO, managers, and colleagues. Organizations must demonstrate honesty and transparency to employees so individuals can feel comfortable putting themselves in the vulnerable position of receiving help, with confidence that the wellness program can elevate their well-being.  
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How does an employee wellness program improve company culture?

An employee wellness program can provide a holistic support system for employees to nurture emotional, mental, and physical health. While a wellness program can’t singlehandedly resolve an employee’s health issues, it does play a significant role in supporting optimal employee functioning. Encouraging employees to proactively take care of their well-being by joining the wellness program can help fuel a vibrant company culture comprised of motivated and engaged individuals.