Employee health is a very important topic within the workplace. With overwork, burnout, and mental illness becoming more and more common among employees, a quarter of large employers have adopted formal employee wellness programs to address these health concerns.
By developing employee wellness programs for remote workers, your company has the opportunity to ensure the well-being of your distributed teams.
What Is an Employee Wellness Program?
An employee wellness program is designed to improve and promote better well-being among employees through health-based initiatives. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines an employee wellness program as a preventative measure that helps employees stay healthy and avoid illness through education, communication, and a supportive work environment.
By creating and following an employee wellness program, you can help your employees:
- Reduce stress. Work-related stress leads to exhaustion and burnout. Through your wellness program, provide employees with stress management tools to help mitigate stress, like breathing exercises and guided meditations.
- Unplug and recharge. Taking breaks from work is essential to maintaining productivity and job enthusiasm. Use your wellness program to remind employees to unplug by shutting off devices at the end of the work day and to recharge using personal days.
- Build healthy habits. Employees can boost their energy and productivity by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, being physically active, and eating a balanced diet. Teach employees how to build healthy habits by adding information about sleep routines, exercise, and diet to your wellness program.
- Set better boundaries. Work is overwhelming without well-defined boundaries. Offer tips to help employees set boundaries in your wellness program, like working within set hours and automatically shutting off notifications after work hours.
- Improve mental health. Mental health is a leading health concern within the workplace. By incorporating therapy sessions, gym passes, and in-person meetups into your wellness program, you create spaces that help foster community and improve mental well-being.
Why Are Employee Wellness Programs Important?
Employee wellness has been a top concern for countless companies, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, the science journal Environmental International published a study by the WHO and International Labour Organization that reported a link between overwork and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. This is especially true in countries where working more than 40 hours per week is normalized.
With more data being revealed about the health risks of excessive work, many employees have set out to find a better work-life balance, causing a “great resignation” that has reshaped the workforce. To retain employees, companies must begin to develop employee wellness programs that address overall well-being, including mental health.
How to Develop a Wellness Program for Remote Employees
Creating a successful wellness program requires collaboration from the entire company. From assessing your employees’ needs to establishing a budget, these essential steps are a road map to an impactful wellness program.
Assess Employee Needs
As this SHRM guide shows, you can kickstart the planning process of your wellness program by doing an assessment of all your employees and their needs, ranging from work-from-home equipment to mental health treatment. One way to do this is to create an anonymous survey or questionnaire that asks a mix of general and specific health questions.
Develop Wellness Objectives
After assessing your employee needs, define your company’s wellness goals. These goals may relate to the workplace, like buying new office chairs for better ergonomic support, or productivity, like decreasing workloads to reduce stress.
Get Company Support
Creating a wellness program begins with outlining key elements and getting involvement from both team members and managers. To get your entire team on board with a wellness program, start promoting the benefits of better health through your company intranet, employee newsletter, and communication channels.
Establish a Budget
An effective wellness program must help employees while maintaining healthcare costs. To prevent your program from depleting healthcare funds, create a clear-cut budget and focus on free options to help increase well-being, including hosting virtual wellness chats, making suggestion boxes, and sending employees self-care content.
Design Wellness Incentives
To help your wellness program take off, “gamify” the health experience by offering fun goals and incentives around wellness initiatives, like winning a gift card for joining meditation sessions, attending fitness classes, or joining a running club.
Communicate and Evaluate
Once your plan has been implemented, survey your team and begin reporting on its impact. Through check-ins, surveys, and incentives over time, you can quantify the usefulness of your program.
Employee Wellness Tips for Managers and Employees
Understanding Employee Wellness Across International Borders
Across the world, there is a spectrum of workplace health concerns that affect every country. In some countries, these concerns go unreported due to varying labor laws. In other countries, labor laws allow for greater separation between work and life.
For example, in western countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, overwork is common. But in places like Finland, Denmark, and Germany, supportive labor laws and a different cultural attitude toward worker benefits mean employees get far more sick leave, maternity leave, time off, and healthcare vouchers.
From an HR standpoint, you can develop a wellness program that brings a more universal balance of benefits to your international teams, no matter where they work.
Support Your Global Team with a Wellness Program and Benefits
Supporting employee wellness is multifaceted and challenging across international borders. Give your team peace of mind by offering competitive global benefits alongside your employee wellness program. Partnering with a global Employer or Record enables you to offer compliant benefits packages tailored to the local markets of your employees.
Talk to us about how to bring global benefits to your talent, no matter where they’re located.