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Beyond the buzzword: how to create a genuinely great employee wellbeing program

Business Tips
Hub St Kilda kitchen

Hub Australia

6th April 2023

Employee wellbeing isn’t just a fleeting workplace trend. Instead, it’s a necessary investment in both employees and the overall success of a business. 

Considering today’s high-stress work environments, workers are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance, manage stress, and deal with financial insecurity. By offering support in these areas, companies can help alleviate some of the stressors that impact employee wellbeing to make for happier and more engaged employees. 

As proof, we’ll let the statistics do the talking. Studies have found that investing in employee wellbeing brings about a substantial return on investment, in the form of reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and improved employee retention rates. Moving beyond the bottom line, a survey by Deloitte found that 80% of employees believe their employer has a responsibility to ensure their wellbeing. 

But, not all employee wellbeing programs are created equal. In order to create a truly great employee wellbeing program, businesses need to consider a variety of factors and approaches.

5 tips for creating an employee wellbeing program, with examples 

Provide financial education

Everyone is feeling rises in the cost of living, and one of the main sources of stress for employees is financial insecurity. This stress can lead to decreased productivity, higher absenteeism rates, and decreased overall wellbeing.

One way to address this is to provide financial education. This education can take many forms, from offering ongoing access to financial advisors to hosting workshops on budgeting and saving.

It’s important to remember that financial wellbeing looks different for everyone, though. Not all employees may have the same financial goals or challenges, so provide a variety of resources that can cater to different needs.

Also be mindful of the potential for financial education to place undue blame on employees for their financial struggles. While it’s great to encourage employees to make sound financial decisions, it’s also important to recognise that systemic issues might be contributing to their financial stress.

Organise inclusive social activities 

Social connection is a crucial component of overall wellbeing. But, not all social activities may be inclusive to all employees. You need to consider the diversity of your workforce when planning social activities, taking into account factors like religion, culture, and physical abilities.

Instead of just opting for ‘traditional’ social events like happy hours or pub dinners, consider facilitating team-building or volunteer opportunities that not only promote social connection but can make people feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment. 

Encourage managers to get involved

Managers play a crucial role in supporting employee wellbeing. They are often the first point of contact when someone is struggling, and their behaviours can have a huge impact on overall workplace culture.

Because of this, it’s crucial for businesses to encourage managers to get involved in employee wellbeing by providing guidance and training when it comes to supporting employees. 

An easy way to encourage managers to get involved is to stress the importance of doing things like taking holidays, regularly checking in with employees, finishing work at an acceptable time, and having lunch away from the desk.

Understand physical wellbeing looks different for everyone

Physical wellbeing is often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about employee wellbeing, but it’s crucial to recognise that physical wellbeing looks different for everyone.

For some employees, physical wellbeing may mean prioritising exercise and healthy eating. For others, it may mean managing a chronic illness or physical disability.

Aim to provide a healthy range of resources to support physical wellbeing, like offering healthy snacks or standing desks, but do so in a way that isn’t stigmatising or exclusionary. Don’t rely on shame or guilt when promoting physical health, and try to avoid offering prizes or rewards to incentivise people. 

Focus on the mental and emotional parts of wellbeing, too

Mental and emotional wellbeing are often overlooked in traditional employee wellbeing programs, despite the fact that they are just as important as physical health. 

Prioritise providing access to mental health resources, such as counselling or therapy, as well as stress management and resilience training. Encourage open and honest communication, promote work life balance, and create a supportive work environment at all levels of the business. 

Some may argue that mental health is a private matter and that employers should not be involved in their employees’ personal lives, but you do have a responsibility to create a safe and supportive work environment for your employees.

Read More: 4 Ways to Practise Self-Care at Work

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