Establishing a Wellness Culture in the Workplace
The importance of a workplace culture that embraces and promotes wellness has emerged as a major differentiator for Canadians in the job market. We know organizations that place special emphasis on wellness and caring have greater success attracting new employees that are more likely to remain loyal and contribute positively towards productivity and long-term success. People leaders and managers are aware of this and typically strive to form habits and procedures aimed at successfully impacting these measurable objectives.
An endless list of items can contribute towards influencing the culture you want to establish in the workplace. If you’re staying up to date on benefits and HR news, you have likely come across articles debating the merits of unlimited vacation days, four-day work weeks, permanent hybrid work arrangements, enhanced mental health resources and flexible work days lately. These debates are being had out of consideration of providing a positive employee experience that is ultimately going to translate into a happy and healthy workforce.
Staying true to our form, we’re going to touch upon some of the ways you can leverage your employee benefits to enhance the wellness culture you’re striving for.
Understand, Strategize and Communicate
People leaders and managers are relied upon to quarterback wellness initiatives in the sense that it’s their responsibility to absorb all the relevant information and distribute their messaging in the best possible format. Having a wellness culture is often oversimplified as a catered lunch or afternoon off once a month (which are great), but it goes deeper than that. It’s about creating a motivating environment that people want to be in, where they can thrive.
How businesses go about obtaining information to form their wellness strategy may vary, but typically ranges from relying upon employee opinions (whatever form this comes in), trends taking place in the business world and from insights gleaned from their benefits plan or benefits advisor. By considering all these outlets, you may discover health and wellness trends developing within your workforce that you can positively impact with a specific wellness or benefits initiative.
From there, it all comes down to being accountable about executing your communication strategy. We know that many employees are experiencing increased feelings of isolation as a result of working from home and being detached from their coworkers. If you’re working in a digital environment and have employees working from home, make use of the Zoom skills you’ve developed over the past year and a half to check in with your people on a more frequent basis. Make sure they’re heard and are doing everything they can to proactively manage their health by taking breaks and vacation days.
There are a variety of management/leadership training resources available to provide organizations with the tools needed to recognize and affect mental health and other chronic conditions in the workplace. A 2021 Benefits Canada survey reported that upwards of 13% of Canadians described their health as being “Poor”, so there’s evidence to suggest employers and their leadership groups will need to play a more prominent role in addressing these issues moving forward.
Using Your Benefits to Enhance Wellness
We’ve seen a lot of changes to the products and services being promoted by group benefit providers over the past few years that can alter the way employees interact and perceive their plan – virtual healthcare services, mental health navigation tools and preventative health resources come immediately to mind. Your advisor will be familiar with any of these changes and should be relied upon as a good source of information to help get you up to speed.
Employees and employers alike are expressing a desire for a more individualized approach to benefits to appeal to the diversity of today’s workforce. This trend promises to continue as employees continue to explore holistic approaches to their health and wellness. To stay on top of evolving needs, employers should tap into the claims data provided by their plans to gain insights on how their utilization has changed. Your advisor can be an asset in this process as they’ll have the experience and knowledge to help analyze your plan’s data, present solutions to optimize its performance and make recommendations to address issues you may not have otherwise been aware of.
With mental health and wellness being of paramount importance, many employers have been especially interested in learning more about how to promote the services made available through their plan’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EAP). The resources made available through EAPs are designed to serve as preventative healthcare service by giving people the tools and information they need to live a healthy balanced lifestyle, and support the urgent needs of those experiencing a crisis or some form of hardship. With people finding it difficult to navigate their health, and the healthcare system – EAPs are a great low-cost benefit that continue to produce a strong return on investment for employers.
Interesting Ways to Make an Impact
As mentioned, there are plenty of ways to go about moving the needle when it comes to establishing and maintaining a wellness culture at your company. Some popular or lesser thought of solutions are:
- Health and wellness spending accounts – we’ve hosted a webinar on the topic if you’re interested in learning more about how they work. They provide a simple solution to addressing the demand for flexibility and the impact they have on overall benefit satisfaction can’t be understated.
- Pharmacogenetic testing – genetic testing for employees suffering from chronic conditions (typically mental health related) that is intended to put them on the fast track to determining the best way to deal with symptoms. The test comes with an upfront cost that employers can help subsidize and offers the benefit of potentially lowering your plan’s drug spend over the long haul and even preventing long-term absences.
- Education – speak with your advisor about the education options that are available to you and your team. They’ll welcome the opportunity to host employee benefit plan and retirement saving plan sessions to help emphasize the value of your plans and create better awareness of how the services that are available integrate with your organization’s wellness strategy.
Wrapping Things Up
It’s important for leadership and management to be active participants when it comes to establishing a wellness culture, and this blog provides lots of ideas about where to turn for help if you’re not sure where to start.
With all the options that are available, the first step should be figuring out what initiatives are likely to have the biggest impact on your team. Understand what’s important to your employees directly by having a clear communication strategy, or indirectly by analyzing the data made available through your benefits plan.
Finally, make a plan to measure the success of your actions. The steps you take to improve the overall health and productivity of your employees or successfully attract and retain talent can and should be measured and evaluated on an ongoing basis.
Before joining Montridge, Jaime Laprise worked with one of Canada’s largest insurers specializing in individual and group disability insurance planning. With a history of providing client-centric results through the implementation of thoroughly researched solutions, Jaime is committed to be his clients’ strongest advocate.
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