Remember when helping to keep employees happy, fit and proactively healthy was a whole lot easier? Almost every worker was on-site with equal access to corporate gyms, fitness facilities, classes and healthy eating options. The pandemic changed all of that. So chances are, if you are in HR today, you bear any responsibility for helping employees live healthier lives – or helping protect the bottom line – you are facing a lot of challenges. On the one hand, a hybrid workforce scattered between work, home and the coffee shop; on the other, a corporate policy on proactive health services and the need to create equal access for every worker. That’s quite a plate-full – but help is at hand …
Benefits Bring Benefit: understand the healthy pay out of employee wellness
Whether you’re looking to make changes to your current offerings for employees to meet hybrid work conditions or are an employer getting to grips with a plan, the benefits are significant. Studies show employee sickness and missed work costs the average employer between $2,600 and $3,600 annually, or $150 billion every year nationwide. The savings go way beyond that too. Helping employees stay fit, active and eating right, can reduce absenteeism by 27 percent. Workplace injuries and workers compensation claims plummet when workforces are fit, more agile, flexible and feel healthy. And over time, proactive healthy lifestyle measures for employees mean better worker retention which adds up to more saving when you consider the average cost to recruit, onboard and train each new worker comes to around $15,000 according to experts.
Workplace Wellness programs – start with good foundations
The foundation for employee health starts with encouraging, sometimes incentivizing and rewarding the right behaviors. That can mean paid time off for proactive health visits and check-ups rather than just appointments to remedy an ailment. Support counseling and services to help workers stop smoking, reward programs for healthy weight management or weight loss goals, as well as fun fitness competitions between individuals and teams at highly visible times of the year: new year and summer particularly. Consider also bringing in a counselor or health care professional for employee flu immunizations, vaccinations or to conduct on-site quick clinics.
Workouts Wherever they Work – offer seamless on-site and mobile classes
It’s now so easy to offer a true virtually-anywhere fitness program for employees with a combination of both on-site and mobile or streaming digital classes and other fitness and wellness content. On-site, a corporate club is ideal but even a meeting room set aside for lunchtime and after-hours workouts and classes can be all that’s needed to give workers access to all kinds of on-demand classes, workouts and wellness programming. Platforms like FitnessOnDemand or other offerings make the same instructor-led classes and workouts available whether employees are accessing those in the company gym on a video wall, a conference room TV, or their phones at work, at home or while traveling. The key is to make the experience easy and seamless for staff. Save employees time spent googling or scrolling YouTube for classes by providing everything in one seamless, virtual place. HIIT classes, stretches, wind downs, yoga and core strength training whether they’re an on-site employee, completely remote all week or, especially, a hybrid of the two, where continuity of classes is important.
Integrate the wellness world for all employees
Whether your employees are logging into an intranet at their desks, checking their phones in the factory break room or working remotely at home, their experience with company fitness and wellness services should be no different. Write emails, company notices and important updates with the new hybrid and remote workforce in mind. Make sure remote employees have VPN dial-in or external access to the servers that store and provide digital fitness content, classes and other wellness services. It’s essential remote employees feel just as comfortable accessing mental health and meditation content, for instance, at home as those in the office do when they use the workplace gym. If you’re conducting health-goal challenges or events, make sure they’re organized, planned and implemented for both on-site and virtual participants. Keep employees engaged, connected and updated with fun virtual leader boards and videos on social channels and make all announcements accessible wherever an employee’s desk or workplace is located.
Don’t Forget Diet – addressing the flip side of fitness
Encouraging and rewarding healthy eating is equally important for employees. Start with education and review your sources for information: break room newsletters, weekly email bulletins, notice boards and social channels. Many employees understand the goal of eating healthy but not how to do it. So start with short, engaging educational articles and updates or videos on the principles of healthy eating: recommended nutrition goals in easy-to-understand formats. How to plan balanced meals at home and at work. How to eat more fruits and vegetables, simple recipe ideas and lunch inspirations. Then move on to review and address the larger issues: do all employees have access to healthy options in the cafeteria or break room? Are on-site lunches and snacks the most nutritious they can be? Do at-home workers have the same access and support to information and nutritional advice? None of it is a quick fix, but incorporating diet education, meal planning and opportunities for healthy workplace food will pay off in the long run.