Why You Need to Invest in Your Employees’ Wellbeing (And How to Do It)

We need to think beyond wellness programs.

 Marie Maerz/ Shutterstock
Marie Maerz/ Shutterstock

By now, most employers understand that workplace wellness needs to play some role in their employee engagement strategies.

But wellness as we currently think of it falls short. While fitness trackers and healthy snacks programs are good steps forward, we need to move away from thinking about wellness and think instead of overall wellbeing.

Most wellness initiatives today focus on a person’s physical health, not their overall wellbeing, which can lead to lack of engagement and wasteful spending.

An effective approach to overall wellbeing begins with understanding the barriers that employees face in their everyday lives that prevent them from finding their health.

3 Key Components to Employee Health

Nancy Reardon, Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Maestro Health, believes there is far more to be done. She feels that we need to look at a more holistic view of our employees’ health, including mental/emotional health, stress management, preventative care options and more. 

She highlights three key areas of employee health and provides some wellbeing strategies leaders can implement to achieve a more thoughtful approach to employee health.

Physical Health.

Employees must have the health and energy to be productive and get things done on a daily basis.

While this is the most obvious component of employee health and wellbeing, Reardon says it’s these traditionally healthy choices and actions that help your employees avoid chronic conditions that can ultimately affect their emotional andfinancial health (medical bills/debt).

“Employer-sponsored benefits and wellness programs that drive education and engagement are critical components in driving physical health,” Reardon explains.

“Employees need to understand how and when they should access healthcare to ensure they remain on track to achieving their health,” adds Reardon.

For some employees, it may be hitting 10,000 steps on their Fitbit, while, for others, it may mean seeing a decrease in their A1C levels, in order to decrease the high risk of developing diabetes.

Financial Health.

Reardon stresses the critical link between physical health and financial health and vice versa, and how one affects the other.

For example, an employee — even one with a moderate salary and benefits – may be unable to afford or access care, healthy food options and more. Similarly, says Reardon, “an employee who can’t cope with financial pressures at home may develop health issues down the line.”

Reardon advises employers to offer their workers access to financial services and resources to help them understand and overcome financial obstacles, and empower them to effectively manage their economic lives.  

Emotional Health.

Emotional wellbeing is impacted by both financial and physical health. Yet not all employees have the capacity to emotionally cope with the ups and downs of life without it impacting their day-to-day work lives.

When crafting their wellbeing programs, Reardon says employers can offer mental health services like mental health days, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and even mindfulness incentives to encourage employees to take care of their emotional health. 

The bottom-line.

Employers play a huge part in their employees’ overall health and wellbeing; and ultimately, they’ll feel the impact if something is wrong or goes wrong. Physical, financial and emotional health are all intertwined and must be addressed if you want to have better business outcomes and productivity while lowering costs.

This article first appeared on inc.com

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