Ask any employer where employee well-being ranks on their priority list, and it will likely be close to the top: one thing we’ve learned from The Great Resignation is that employees’ mental health is deeply linked to retention. Employers are taking this seriously – according to a RAND survey, over 80% of large employers provide workplace wellness programs to their employees. However, the latest Gallup poll has revealed only 24% of employees strongly agree that their company cares about employee well-being. HR can’t help but wonder: did the message get lost in translation, or do company efforts still have a long way to go?
Why do employees think employers don’t care?
A Purdue University survey found the top reason why employees opt out of wellness programs is that they don’t see value in what the organization is delivering: 19% reported well-being programs did not meet their needs, and 31% felt well-being programs just added to an over-stuffed plate. Experts from Wellable Labs suggest that when a wellness program doesn’t meet the needs of staff, it can backfire as a feeling of disconnection between an employee and their company, reinforcing perceptions that a program is rooted in branding or cost reduction over concern for employee well-being.
5 high-impact ways to get the message across
It’s vital that employees feel their organization cares about them. No one wants to work for a company that doesn’t care about its employees. So what can you do?
Here are five high-impact ideas that drive the notion that employers care about their people, according to Gallup:
- Ask the audience what they want. Ask employees early and often to contribute their ideas for improving well-being in the workplace. Giving your staff power in the decision process will help you eliminate their concerns and show them that the company cares. This will allow employees who are also more likely to participate in a program they suggested.
- Give robust recognition for well-being achievements. A critically important psychological need in the workplace is routine recognition. Gallup says it’s a proven driver of numerous business outcomes. So, make it part of your well-being programs. Incentivize employees to pursue programs that provide high well-being and show the company cares about them attaining their goals.
- Include employees’ families. Want employees to feel cared about? Include their family’s well-being in programs and activities. Encouraging family member involvement shows not only does the company care about its employees, but it cares about their families, too.
- De-stigmatize employee assistance programs (EAPs). Thirty percent of U.S. workers said they don’t know how to access their company’s EAPs. That’s a big problem. If employees don’t know how to find them, they can’t use them. So, promote them until you’re blue in the face! Emphasize the confidentiality of the EAPs. Many workers avoid them because they are afraid of the stigma associated with some EAPs. Consider automatic pre-enrollment. That way it removes administrative tasks to use the EAPs. And have a large portion of the communications come from executives to drive home the importance of these programs.
- Use best-practice communication methods. Create company sharing networks where employees can socialize and share their well-being best practices. Do monthly or quarterly meetings during lunch so employees can share personal practices or goals that others might not be familiar with and could benefit from. This can include useful apps, books, or classes. Lastly, ensure that the program details and its benefits are communicated often and through a variety of channels.
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, employee well-being challenges are here to stay. Wellness programs have proven themselves to be worth the effort, yielding fantastic results for company culture and retention when done right. According to the Gallup poll, employees who strongly believe their companies care about well-being are:
- 69% less likely to look for another job
- 71% less likely to experience burnout, and
- Five times more likely to be a promoter of their company
Creating a company-sponsored, employee-driven well-being network shows employees that their organization wants to help them with their wellness pursuits. Supporting employee well-being is the right thing to do – both for employees and for the business they sustain.