Simple Ways to Leverage Wellness to Improve the Employee Experience

This post was originally posted as a featured contributor on ICMI.

Eat only healthy snacks at work, lose weight and burn calories through your daily exercise. Save your company gobs of money by not getting sick. If this is all your workplace wellness program includes, it stinks. And, your employees are likely sick of it.

Creating a wellness program at your office is all the rage. You want to be the hip company on the block with the cool options bringing good health to the team. A wellness program at work can’t save a sinking ship, but it can lend a hand to improving the employee experience.

What catches the eye of the decision makers in the company with the funds to promote a wellness program often include:

  • Reducing absenteeism
  • Increasing productivity
  • Lowering healthcare costs
  • Increase employee morale

From the biggest loser challenge, to “no-bread February,” to rewards for a lower BMI to the weekly water chug challenge, everything you’ve done ends up with little to no lasting participation. The word from the water cooler is that no one cares to be a checkbox on your “health care cost savings” to-do list.

Reevaluating the way we measure the value of wellness to organizational culture and business priorities is dire.

Safeguarding the wellbeing of your employees is a fundamental part of your organizational culture. When you put the spotlight on wellbeing, you start to directly impact the employee experience in a beneficial way.

Zoom in, and you’ll notice that wellbeing, culture, and engagement are key components for leading your employee experience down a positive path. By crafting regular positive experiences for your employees, you will create a culture that appeals to talent and retains high performing engaged employees.

The employee experience embodies more than perks and free snacks. A true employee experience strengthens and supports your employees to be their best in and out of the office while respecting that sometimes being the best means not always being happy. It may mean having a difficult but necessary conversation, crying on your lunch break, constructively venting with a coworker or taking a mental health day. Employees should be motivated to bring their whole self to work to feel included in a supportive company culture.

There are three C’s to wellness with the employee experience:

  • Community
  • Consistency
  • Culture

Community

If you don’t ask, you don’t know what the team actually wants. Having a purpose in the company, the opportunity to grow, and to feel like – and trust – they are holistically taken care of by the business. Start with an anonymous survey that features questions about what matters to them when it comes to their own wellbeing in the workplace. Be sure to factor in topics such as mental and emotional health, finance, career, creativity, relationships, education or personal development. By expanding the definition of “wellness,” you’re opening the door to seeing your team as human beings with many life dimensions. Take action to implement these ideas into your culture by bringing in the entire team community and consistently stick with it.

Consistency

Workplace wellness isn’t a set one-and-done kind of deal. With the time it takes to communicate with the team, evaluate their needs and wants, build and implement a program, the last thing you want is it to fall flat and disappear for good. Keep consistent communication with your team and let the plan evolve with the culture. Schedule meetings, lunch n’ learns, talk about wellbeing in your 1:1s – however you want to weave it in, do it and do it regularly. Yes, even if that means taking someone off the phones for 15 minutes.

Culture

Are leaders in your organization sincerely and undoubtedly working on their own wellbeing? When leaders embrace their own wellbeing, they spring a trickle-down effect through the culture, positively influencing others. Employees are much more likely to become involved in wellness activities when they see that leadership is also doing so. The culture you’re creating is less about wellness from the place of dollar signs saved and more about humans supporting humans at work. This can be felt the second anyone walks through the door and seen in the work produced by the team.

It is important to understand that some of your team may not feel comfortable disclosing personal information, even anonymously. There’s absolutely no reason to force anyone to make a change that they are not ready to make.

Wellness at work is more than just roasted almonds and carrot sticks in the break room. It has many dimensions, requires humans to become involved, isn’t always pretty and happy and needs consistent attention. And, it is totally worth the time it takes to enhance the employee experience, including your own.

Ready to make wellness a priority for your team? Be sure to join Jenny this May 13-16 at Contact Center Expo! She’s speaking in session 102: Create a Culture of Self-Care in Your Contact Center. 

Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She has worked at tech startups since 2005. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's a certified health coach, but not the kind that forces you to only eat cardboard and deprive yourself of ice cream. JennyDempseyWellness.com, the company she started, was designed to bring a new type of wellness into the workplace, one that gives you permission to look deeper into yourself, rather than just on the healthy snacks in the break room. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. She's also a Hanson fan for life.

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