5 Ways to Create an Office Culture Around Well-being

Providing wellness initiatives for your workforce is a win-win for your company and your employees.

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In the last few years, companies have been looking for more ways to show their employees that they care about their overall well-being, and with good reason. When people of all ages were asked in a Gallup survey what they look for in an employer, employees ranked “the organization cares about employees’ wellbeing” in their top 3 criteria.

And for Millennials and Gen Z workers, it’s at the very top of the list. LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Report also puts well-being and wellness as one of the top trends of the year.

It’s critical that all companies, both large and small, take steps to create an office culture around employee wellness and overall well-being. In fact, companies who don’t risk losing talent altogether. Wellness initiatives are a win for everyone: Your people will be healthier, happier, and more productive.

Below we look at 5 ways you can authentically promote a culture of wellness at your company.

1. Provide (or expand) healthcare benefits

While providing healthcare benefits is one of the most expensive ways to promote wellness, it’s also one of the most effective. When looking at what employees want most, health insurance is almost always at the top of the list; last year, 90% of employees in a Society for Human Resource Management ranked healthcare as “extremely important.” Not only will your employees be healthier, but your retention will be higher. In terms of recruitment efforts, you’ll also have access to a stronger pool of applicants: 70% of respondents in a Zenefits survey said they wouldn’t accept a job that didn’t provide health benefits.

So the data is clear that healthcare benefits are important to employees, but as a small company, you may be concerned about the price tag associated with it. While costly, there are plans that are easier for smaller companies to afford. There are also ways to control costs, such as cutting underused benefits, and automating your benefits system.

In 2021, 95% of companies with more than 50 people started offering access to telemedicine, compared to 85% the year before, and 67% the year before that.

If you already provide healthcare, one way to expand your care is to invest in telemedicine and join this growing trend. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2021, 95% of companies with more than 50 people started offering access to telemedicine, compared to 85% the year before, and 67% the year before that.

Another way to expand your already existing wellness program could be to encourage mindfulness — either with tools or hosting sessions to teach your people about mindfulness and meditation.

2. Offer flexibility

Flexibility is LinkedIn’s first chapter in their 2022 Global talent Trends report, and it’s no surprise why. Providing schedule and location flexibility is key to promoting wellness throughout your organization. This means allowing for some control over both working hours and location.

In terms of location, it’s best to allow the option to keep working from home, if your employees’ physical presence is not necessary for their job function. According to PWC research, what employees want is:

  • More flexible working arrangements
  • The opportunity to work remotely at least 3 days a week
  • The option to go into the office a few days a week

In terms of schedule, you can still have core working hours, but tethering people to their desks is a good way to cause employee burnout (more on this below). The key here, according to LinkedIn, is to focus on results, rather than hours.

Other suggestions from LinkedIn include closing the office to everyone a few days a year, and making sure leaders are also taking vacation to send the message that taking time off is important at all levels of the organization.

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3. Take burnout seriously

A culture of wellness starts with empathetic management. While burnout existed well before the pandemic, it’s been on the rise since early 2020. While many remote workers feel they have better work-life balance, others feel very differently. 79% of remote workers in a Bamboo HR study say they feel burnt out monthly, 53% weekly, and 21% daily.

Some ways to combat burnout include:

  • Promoting a healthier work-life balance (more on this below)
  • Making sure your employees feel seen and heard
  • Creating a transparent company culture around mental health
  • Making burnout reduction a management issue
  • Allowing for short-notice time off

4. Emphasize work-life balance

A significant way to promote wellness and help your people combat burnout is to promote a healthier work-life balance. As outlined above, many workers say their work-life balance has improved since working from home. That being said, other reports show a much bleaker picture. One report found that 50% of Americans check their emails before breakfast, and another study found that 26% of Australian workers felt “obligated” to check messages outside of work hours.

It’s in your company’s best interest to help your workers turn off after signing off. Workers with a good work-life balance have less absenteeism, and are more productive and engaged.

It’s in your company’s best interest to help your workers turn off after signing off. Workers with a good work-life balance have less absenteeism, and are more productive and engaged.

As a company, you should understand that your people have a life and obligations outside of the office. Peloton, for example, encourages employees to block off time in their calendars to do personal errands. Other ways to encourage a healthier work-life balance include setting a positive example by not overworking yourself, and encouraging breaks.

5. Encourage connectivity between employees

While people prefer the option to work from home, remote work has presented its own set of issues. For example, according to BambooHR, 40% of workers thought they’d have more social interactions by returning to the office, but only 35% said they experienced this as a reality.

Part of wellness includes how we connect with one another, including with colleagues. According to Pew research, people are not as satisfied at work, and a third of respondents say it’s because they feel less connected to their coworkers. Employees with workplace friendships “speak to their greater well-being, engagement and performance”.

So how can you foster connections in the office, even if you’re working remotely? Some ideas for remote or hybrid companies include:

  • Virtual trivia nights
  • Hosting virtual coffee chats or lunches
  • Creating Slack channels about specific topics (not work-related)
  • Virtual fitness classes

With so many people working remotely, the office has bled into every aspect of employees’ lives. That means that workers no longer see companies as just a job, but as a key player in their overall wellbeing. Providing your people with health benefits, flexibility, and a place for connection can help facilitate a culture of wellness and well being. While many wellness perks come with a cost, even small businesses can find ways to introduce more initiatives to help their employees feel cared for.

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