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Wellness, Are Companies Really Getting It?…

Credit where credit is due, there are many companies attempting to give this wellbeing malarkey a go. They’ll have the yoga sessions, a workshop, maybe even an app for some reason? Although we do not think this is enough, Mind Work we are still happy to see as it shows a degree of awareness. It’s undeniable, wellness for employees is a hot topic.

 

That being said, it seems that many have not yet quite grasped the whole reasoning behind the “wellbeing for employees movement”.  A ‘Wellbeing Week’ once a quarter simply wont cut it. As with anything, commitment is a necessity if you want to see beneficial results for your company and more importantly, your employees. We know that a happy workforce will reflect on your company’s overall output so why do so many fall short when it comes to giving wellness programmes the respect it deserves?

 

Company wellness programs are failing, and one of the reasons are that they’re not ‘Programmes’ at all. Similar to the new years resolution of going to the gym and taking one spin class per week and jumping on the scales to be met with the 2 lbs you added, before declaring it’s not working. Don’t get me wrong, the employees (whom of which the programmes are designed to serve) themselves must also take their fair share of the responsibility with an attitude that seems to imply that they feel like wellness at work is something done to them rather than for them. These programs are often superficial/for show – they don’t elevate company culture, inspire commitment, or even tie to the company’s business goals. Any program that alienates, annoys, and distracts those it means to serve will fail to deliver results in the long-term.

 

Here is a great example of this from Henry Albrecht – Founder, CEO & Board Director at Limeade

“There’s no shortage of “wellness gone wrong” examples, starting with the programs that held people accountable for achieving biometric values but never gave anyone a hint that the company understood or cared about their lives. And frankly, for every egregiously punitive approach, there were (and still are) 10 programs barely skimming the surface of their potential. They’re feel-good distractions embraced by those already in the club. As corporate investments and priorities, they rank somewhere between the company party and bean bags in the conference rooms. Do they even matter?

Most corporate wellness (now often called “well-being”) programs have so far failed to deliver on their potential. But the good news is, with a more holistic well-being and engagement model, employers can achieve much bigger results than companies and employees have envisioned to date – results that go well beyond health and health costs to something richer: true work engagement.”

 

There are a number current reasons to why programmes don’t seem to be working. Three of which Henry Albrecht highlighted as being ;

 

1. Wellness Programs Don’t Work the Way Our Brains Work

Although the narrative indicates that the health of employees seem to be the driving force behind the reason of implementation, I think it’s safe to say that the main reason that these programmes have found their way into companies is in order to reduce the costs that poor employee health, both physical and mental rack up i.e. make the company more money (which is totally fine of course).  On one hand we have the fact that healthier people will cost less to insure and less likely to take days off. The influencers embraced this, and the idea spread. There was a second and more suspect premise embedded, though: that you can pay people to comply. Those who don’t participate won’t get the same insurance benefits, effectively shifting costs from willing participants to unwilling ones. And it worked… in a short-term way.

Ultimately, however, this punitive Industrial Revolution mentality often created more resentment than value. It sent a clear message of accountability, which on the upside saved some lives and caught some serious issues early with its focus on important preventive care protocols. No one wants to be told that they need to improve their health to avoid financial penalties; that message absent an immersive cultural commitment to whole-person well-being breeds resentment and won’t help companies with long-term engagement and retention.

And these are much bigger, higher-value goals than lowering health costs.

Even when messaged positively, telling people the “right” thing to do and holding them accountable for doing it “or else” is fundamentally out of touch with how people think, work, and act  – and what they want. What exactly do employees want? Barry Schwartz and others have shown that people crave a sense of purpose at work, as well as community, belonging, value, autonomy, and mastery. The science of motivation is the relevant science for voluntary programs. Prioritising these things has the potential to boost the bottom line while making employees happy, too. What’s more, creating caring and supportive companies – with high expectations – will help us take on the widespread isolation and suffering we face as a society.

 

2. “Wellness” Is Largely Irrelevant to the CEO

If you ask a Fortune 500 CEO about corporate priorities, you’ll generally hear a standard list that includes increasing revenue, profit, market share or stock price, serving customers well, globalisation, technology disruption and maybe winning that Great Company award. Some might even go out on a limb and mention attracting great leaders, retaining top talent, or even creating a great culture as a way to achieve these other goals.

Where is employee well-being on the CEO list? Is it even in the top 20? Is it “a given” but not explicitly measured or managed? Wellness isn’t seen as a strategic part of culture creation that can increase engagement and ultimately lead to a company’s success. It’s a check-the-box, unimportant thing that ends up buried at the bottom of a long list of employee perks. For many companies, it’s program number 21 from one of the least influential departments: benefits.

I see this disconnect every day with our customers, both in under-appreciated human capital functions and in the C-suite. And it’s not surprising given the way we’ve sometimes done these programs. But there’s no reason for this to happen anymore. Consider these findings from Limeade:

  • 88% of employees with higher well-being are engaged at work, compared with 50% of employees with lower well-being.
  • 98% of employees with both higher well-being and a higher perception that their company supports their well-being say they want to be working at the same company in one year.
  • 99% of employees with both high well-being and organisational support would recommend their employer as “a great place to work.”

It seems like focusing on an energetic and engaged workforce has potential, but…

 

3. Wellness Programmes and the ROI issue 

Wellness programs have historically been chartered with lowering healthcare costs – but proof of their results has been tough to nail down. One reason is that health costs fluctuate for reasons unrelated to health – like network design, unnecessary surgery, generic drug strategy, economic incentives for hospitals to do more procedures, and other “supply-side” issues. The second and third reasons are the ‘how our brains work’ and ‘irrelevant’ reasons outlined above. But there’s an important fourth reason, too: we have been looking in the wrong place.

Research shows that employee engagement and turnover are much bigger drivers of a company’s financial success (or lack thereof) than medical costs. And well-being has a direct connection to these outcomes.

Taking a broader look at the results associated with an engaged and energised workforce should have the potential to convince a CEO or CHRO to take a more strategic approach to employee well-being. Having a model to help the C-suite see these connections is the key to breaking through the noise.

 

In Summary 

So with all that being said, why is it still such a struggle/almost controversial for companies to invest in wellbeing programmes along with engagement? CEO’s and decision makers should be putting this stuff at the top of their agendas instead of continuing to subscribe to the ‘old-school’ systematic protocols that have been ingrained into the both the companies and the individuals running them.

A new approach from the forward thinking C-Suite is the only to build sustainable businesses in a time where burn-out is on everyone’s lips and more people are quitting their jobs than ever before . Just like that start-up culture prides itself on being ‘agile’, your wellness programmes should be strategised in the way.  Actually including them into the model and the culture of the business instead of a nice-to-have add-on. A genuine focus on not only employees physical health, but mental states of wellness that encompasses their purpose at the company, community, belonging, work well-being, emotional well-being, autonomy, mastery, their energy, and even financial well-being. These are the true pathways to enjoy continuous innovation, loyalty and keeping companies happy in good times and bad.

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2019 Corporate Wellness Trends

In 2019 we are hoping for employee wellbeing to continue to grow and for more employers to look after their employees by understanding that it’s the best way for them look after you… We’ve saying this for ages, it just makes sense and something you or your boss must get… If your employees are happy and healthy they’ll be more productive and more likely to stay with the company longer.

We’re now going to use this time to offer you/your employer an insight to what 2019 looks like in the way of corporate wellbeing. It we cover how best to use wellness programmes while ensuring working well with your employees to reach your targets. We shall. also be covering:

  • Wellness programmes strategy
  • What we mean by ‘Wellness’
  • Technology and personalisation
  • Investment

 

Corporate wellness

It’s not a new concept, and many execs may understand the concept of wellbeing and maybe even its importance, however, many are still caught up with the ingrained systematic models preventing the true benefits wellness programmes can have on companies. Having wellness within your company should be a priority, and thankfully, it is in many organisations and becoming ingrained within their cultures. It is these companies that are seeing  an increase in productivity, a decrease in absenteeism and assisting in strengthening the corporations within their respective markets. Mind Work are pleased to see the growth on investment in corporate wellness but would like to see the implementation more thought-out with clear goals in mind.

 

Employee demand

Ideas about wellbeing are changing in many areas of the world. People are less cynical and skeptical about how things such as mindfulness and meditation can impact general wellbeing, and there is a growing demand for health and wellness support from employers. This includes corporate fitness centres, nutrition programmes and coaching programmes. The mindset shift is proved when companies remove programmes and there’s an outcry from staff.

 

Change in corporate culture

There is increased diversification with different programmes being offered. We’re transitioning from talking about wellness in a traditional sense — eating right, exercising more and making sure you’re taking necessary medication — to looking at holistic health and the trend towards talking about wellbeing as wellness.

Mind Work’s programmes approach health from a mind, body and spirit perspective. Within this, it’s not just exercise, nutrition and medication — the physical side — but also behavioural health, social connectedness, sense of purpose, character strength, meditation and mindfulness. We’re using these components that comprise wellbeing to make sure that we offer solutions that will help individuals achieve a better state of wellbeing.

Employers are starting to embrace this as well — going beyond traditional corporate wellness programmes to address emotional health, from both work and personal perspectives, and the need for social connections.

 

How do you measure success?

Although we are heavily focused, and ambassadors of human interaction with our programmes, we have developed software that allows teams/employers to track mood alongside productivity in real-time. 

Up-front analysis of an individual’s needs is essential: defining personalised care at the right time. The second element is measuring whether they are achieving their health goals, being more productive at work and are less absent. Is the employer seeing lower turnover of employees, are they seeing better performance as a result?

This is the way the industry is moving as a whole: looking at individuals holistically and providing well-being solutions that meet them where they want it, when they want it.

 

Risk assessment

Corporations large and small should be looking at their demographic to understand where there are areas of risk. This needs to go beyond eating right and exercising, to include ‘do you have a part of your population that can’t pay their bills?’, ‘do you have a part of the population that’s unhappy at work or is really struggling in the workplace or at home?’. Work to understand their character — strains, strengths and traits. Are these people in the right jobs based on who they are? Is their personality a good fit for where they are? Are they struggling with their boss or co-workers?

Understanding a lot of these will involve a shift for many corporations and they will need support in this. They’ll also need help deciding what to do with this data, how to build the best health and well-being packages for each person.

 

Technology and personalisation

There is an increasing demand for personalisation in many industries and digital tools are helping to deliver it — and at scale.

Currently, corporate wellness can be personalised to the level of specific groups rather than individuals. Many people think personalisation means ‘individual’ — ‘me and my specific needs’. And while we use a lot of data and insights – your age, basic health details, even personality information about what makes you happy or sad — this is only used to define which wellness programme is best suited to you. This means individuals are enrolled in a wellness programme with like-minded others and those with similar well-being issues.  However, as we discover more with data and build out solutions we will have programmes that have more and more bespoke aspects — tailored to individuals.

There are so many new digital wellness and well-being tools on the market, but the key is that, for them to work, they need to be entertaining, interactive and engaging — and they need to mean something to the individual.

The other keystone to wellness tech is consolidation. There are so many apps and services and sites for every different need, person and condition — it’s overwhelming. How does a person know what’s good or bad, or what they need for their current state of health? Health care companies need to better help members navigate the options and help employers choose and implement the right tools for their members.

We work with our clients and their teams to ensure that the services we offer are for them and coincide with the main objectives.

 

Increasing investment

Investment in corporate wellness is shifting. More corporations are supporting wellness programmes, adding them as part of their benefits — including components of wellbeing and incentives programmes

For the corporations already offering wellbeing initiatives and programmes, it is unclear whether a significant amount is increasing their funding of these programmes. But they are definitely shifting their budgets into different areas of corporate wellness and expanding their offerings. This is often to offer a more diverse range of programmes — often based on learnings from previous programmes.  

How much should companies invest in wellness programmes? While firms can’t do enough to support employees to make sure they’re living as healthily as they possibly can, there is always going to be an employer benefits ceiling as far as budget allocation is concerned. And so, it’s important not to waste the budget. Companies should seek to learn and improve their programmes to support the best health outcomes for their employees that, in turn, boost productivity and profitability.

 

Barriers

As mentioned previously in this post,  the adoption of corporate wellness is growing but there remain challenges.

One challenge is how we prove success. The outcomes from programmes and tools are long-term — life-long — so it’s very hard to measure whether one specific programme or group of programmes has been successful from a health and health care standpoint.

Companies want to know: ‘Is this mindfulness programme actually reducing my costs?’ In short YES. If you’re the type to understand that instant gratification isn’t the best approach for your long-term plans. 

Please contact us to arrange a chat with one of the team and discuss what Mind Work may be able to do for your company.

 

 

 

sources:

1 Artiga & Hinton, 2018
2 Shankya, H., & Christakis, N. A. (2017, February 1). Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study. Retrieved from American Journal of Epidemiology: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/185/3/203/2915143
3 Killingsworth, M., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Retrieved from American Association for the Advancement of Science.: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/932

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Consequences of Stress in Your  Organisation

Here are some of the impacts that stress can have on a business or organisation: 

 

Absenteeism, presenteeism and ill health. Employees who are stressed may be absent from work due to stress, they may come to work but not be able to perform their duties to the normal standards and they may suffer from other health problems developing from the stress (e.g. long-term chronic, mental health and other conditions and potential addictions). These factors will significantly impact the business or organisation due to lack of resources, the loss of knowledge and experience and the impact of this on other employees. There may also be health and safety incidents as a result of stress.

 

Morale and motivation. The above will, in turn, have an impact on employee morale and motivation, both in terms of the employees who are struggling with stress and the employees at all levels in the organisation who have to pick up their responsibilities.

 

Staff turnover, recruitment, and training. As a result of the above, staff turnover may increase and experienced employees may leave the organisation. The business or organisation will then have to recruit new employees with the associated time and costs of this recruitment and training.

 

Productivity and efficiency. Employees who are stressed and coming into work are likely to be much less productive and efficient than usual and this combined with employee absences, low morale and motivation and staff turnover will have a negative impact on overall business and organisation productivity and efficiency.

 

Customer service. It is very difficult to maintain customer service levels with staff absences, high staff turnover, morale and motivation issues and low productivity and inefficiencies. Stress can therefore result in customer service issues and problems, with customer complaints and potential loss of customers.

 

Communication and relationships. Where employees are stressed another impact can be on communication and relationships in the business or organisation. People who are stressed can be angry, irritable and withdrawn, which together with low morale and motivation and high staff turnover, can impact team dynamics, communication within and outside the company and both internal and external relationships negatively.

 

Business and financial performance. All the above will result in a deterioration in the company or organisation performance, in terms of sales, profitability and cash flow.

 

So what can a business or organisation do to prevent or minimise the above impacts? Here are some ideas:

 

Understand the data. A good starting point for any business or organisation is to evaluate the level of stress of its employees by gathering data such as the level of absence, long-term illness, staff turnover, Human Resources or Employee Assistance Program calls and health and safety incidents as a result of stress and softer data such as employee feedback, management experience, customer feedback etc. This can be done through surveys, group and team meetings and one to one meetings. You may also want to seek external help with this analysis.

 

Risk assess the business or organisation. Alongside the above it is a good idea to risk assess the organisation to understand the current situation in all areas (both what may be creating stress for employees and the impact of stress on the organisation).

Areas to consider include:

– The working environment such as the physical surroundings, equipment provided, and heating and lighting (e.g. an open plan working environment may be creating stress for employees due to high noise levels impacting concentration).

– The culture of the organisation such as support for staff, values and beliefs and management practices (e.g. Management not accepting that there are stress issues and not providing any support to employees or a practice of everyone having to stay until the boss leaves could be creating stress).

– How employees are treated such as clarity of job and role descriptions and objectives, communication on a team and one to one basis, training, expectations around working hours and deadlines and career opportunities (e.g. ambiguous and unclear job and role descriptions and objectives or lack of training or too much or not enough work for or responsibility given to an employee could be creating stress).

– Resourcing such as employing the right number of people to meet the company’s requirements and having the equipment to do the job properly (e.g. employees may be stressed because the organisation is understaffed and they are working long and unreasonable hours).

– Scheduling and planning such as poor project planning or management chopping and changing their requirements of their employees (e.g. Unrealistic deadlines and work schedules can create stress for employees).

You will need to personalise any risk assessment to your business or organisation and may want to seek outside help to complete it.

 

Mind Work are able to come in and work alongside your team to assist you in understanding the data, set goals and determine a strategies and solutions in order to increase company productivity and ultimately, profitability. Alternatively, there is some useful advice available at the UK Health and Safety Executive website.

 

Support individuals with stress management. As an employer you can support your employees to prevent and manage stress. This may be through open conversations with line managers, providing Employee Assistance stress support services, stress management training (such as our online video based stress management course for business owners, directors and managers and listening to employees concerns and taking action to improve things for them.

 

Make organisational changes to prevent and reduce stress. The risk assessment will highlight areas that need to be improved or changed in the organisation in order to reduce or prevent employee stress. This could be anything from changing the culture of the organisation to recruiting additional staff. You can get some ideas from the areas mentioned in the risk assessment areas above.

 

Hopefully the above has got you thinking of the potential impact of stress on your business or organisation and what you can do to prevent and reduce stress.

 

Author: Liz Makin

 

 

 

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