How COVID-19 Will Redefine Wellness Programs

Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby.

My colleague at The Workforce Institute, Dan Schawbel just penned a great piece on why employers must embrace technology to support employee mental health and wellness. Indeed, half of U.S. workplaces offer health and wellness programs according to a 2019 survey from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The survey indicated that workplace programs included a focus on physical activity, nutrition, and stress management. We know their value for the employee experience, so it’s good to see that health and wellness programs are being offered and promoted in the workplace.

However, in light of COVID-19, organizations will want and need to expand their definition of wellness to include various aspects of wellbeing. The Workforce Institute has studied wellbeing over the years and its role in organizational wellness programs. There’s never been a more perfect time to review some of those thoughts to see how they can be incorporated into existing wellness programs.

How Resilient are You?

meQuilibrium evaluates physical, mental, and attitudinal elements to create a truly 360-degree evaluation of each individual’s current resilience, then tailors content and exercises to help individuals strengthen their resilience. In this podcast, meQuilibrium CEO Jan Bruce and VP of Research and Development Lucy English discuss what they mean by resilience, how they measure it, why it’s important in the workplace and what solutions they have to help organizations become more resilient.

Subjects like resilience can help leaders understand how resilient their teams and organizations are and how to develop greater resilience where needed.

Finding a Cure for The Summer Scaries

Now more than ever, employers must prioritize self-care and open communication to reduce the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that everyone is facing in order to reduce the likelihood of burnout.

If you are a manager, encourage your team to make a “stop doing” goal, suggest classes your team can take or apps they can use for stress management and mindfulness. Encourage employees to grab their phone, head out for a walk wherever they may be, and conduct meetings this way. Perhaps most of all, don’t forget to recognize your team for their work and accomplishments during this time. Make time to celebrate your employees’ wins and get creative about how you do it. Practice gratitude and see how it transforms your working life. Recognize the magic in saying “thank you.” People need appreciation and simple kindness perhaps most of all right now.

Financial Wellness: An Important Component of Employer Wellness Programs

A 2020 survey titled Mind Over Money, released by Capital One and The Decision Lab, found that 77% of Americans report anxiety over their financial situation, with 58% believing that finances control their lives. More than 40% stated that their financial stress makes it difficult for them to concentrate at work. Similarly, the 2020 Workplace Benefits Report issued by Bank of America found that less than half of employees are feeling financially well, which is a 12% drop from two years ago and almost 60% of employees say they do not have control over their debt. 

In a year like this one, we find ourselves in  a global pandemic and with widespread unemployment and economic hardship, helping employees feel more in control of their finances is something all employers should be striving to do. Recognizing that financial well-being is a critical component of overall employee health will help employers better serve their employees and keep them happier and more loyal.

Embracing Flexibility

For years now, human resources leaders have been selling the benefits of flexible, dynamic working and indeed, most organizations now have policies in place – flexible work programs, job shares, working from home, and so on, supported by engaging communications and earnest senior sponsorship. Yet, culturally, these programs have not always landed in a systematic way and have certainly not become the operational norm.

Let’s create a level playing field for our employees, and celebrate flexibility, rather than begrudgingly allowing it. Let’s reduce our costs and help our planet by halving our office spaces, abandoning unnecessary commuting and travel, and putting our newly acquired lounge wear to long term good use. Let’s rejoice in having our families around us at times when we work, and recognize that we are all more creative, innovative and effective when we are less tired and weighed down by the administrative burden of juggling.

These articles from Workforce Institute board members show that employee wellness and wellbeing programs are the right thing to do for individuals. In turn, employees who are able to practice wellness and wellbeing are more productive and engaged with the organization. As organizations spend more time managing a hybrid workforce – one with both onsite and remote workers – it will be even more essential to support employees through these programs.

One thought on “How COVID-19 Will Redefine Wellness Programs

  1. Hi Sharlyn, Thank you for this insightful article focusing on employee / people wellness and wellbeing. If we are to emerge from this crisis stronger than we were when it began, it will require an intentional focus on a comprehensive wellness and wellbeing approach by all managers. I am especially appreciative of your comments regarding resilience and highlighting this area during our crisis – it is right on point (and thank you!).

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