Should Employee Well-being Be Part of Your Small Business’s Brand?

A healthy workforce is a happy, productive workforce. Here are reasons why promoting employee wellbeing is a best practice as an employer.

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When the pandemic hit, employee safety, health, and wellness became imperative for businesses — no matter their size. Leaders worked hard to protect employees and customers. Workers took steps to assure they, their coworkers, and their families were as safe as possible. Health and wellness took precedence over almost every business metric. As the virus wanes, promoting wellness should stay top of mind for business, and they should let job seekers and current employees know it’s an ongoing priority.

Employee wellness, even in the best of times, is important for business. Workers who attend to their physical and mental health needs are more productive, have higher morale, have reduced absenteeism, and help keep the overall costs of healthcare down. When employers put the focus on wellness, including preventative care, they translate that focus to staff members. Targeting employee wellbeing is a best practice for business.

Walking the wellness talk 

Encouraging employees to attend to their health is important. Emphasizing that translates you’re concerned about them as individuals and as a workforce. Providing healthcare coverage is a first step: promoting wellness goes further.

We’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that coming to work while ill is a bad idea. As an organization, it will be important to remind employees — well after the pandemic threat has passed — that seeking care, staying home, and attending to their health is standard practice, not reserved for deadly viruses. Not only do employees recover faster, they reduce the risk of spreading that nasty cold to others. Overall, your policy should be to stay home when sick. Managers should send staffers home if they come to work unhealthy. If you encourage self care, employees will follow your lead.

Beyond disease, it’s important to emphasize mental health. Stress can wreak havoc on our physical and emotional wellbeing. When work/life balance goes off kilter, pressures on the job or at home become too demanding, or other stresses begin to have an impact, self-care is critical. Encourage employees to take a “mental health” day when necessary. Often that’s enough to give the employee a chance to regroup.

When that’s not enough, solutions should be a priority. Can you help? Can you reduce the stress of kids going back to school with some flexible start time options? Will offering remote work ease the transition? The small steps you take today could help save a good employee from leaving or feeling overwhelmed.

If you don’t have the resources to help, remind employees of the resources provided through their healthcare coverage. Mental health assistance should be available through their medical coverage. While you don’t want to ask direct questions about their mental state, it’s good to remind staff members there are resources available to them when they are in need.

While you don’t want to ask direct questions about their mental state, it’s good to remind staff members there are resources available to them when they are in need.

Modeling wellness

When your management team doesn’t set an example, no messaging will resonate. If they don’t take time off when they’re sick, neither will their team. If they skip vacations because it’s just too busy, or they don’t feel others can take up the slack, no one else will. It’s critical to go beyond the wellness policy and make it a wellness practice.

When managers attend to their needs, they show employees it’s company policy. When they take the time needed for their physical and mental wellness, and their work/life balance, they underscore how important it is for employees to do the same.

Bring wellness to them

Employers can arrange for flu shots onsite during the fall and spring seasons — a great step toward making wellness a part of your brand. You can host a health fair at your company, even a small one, to remind employees of the benefits they have and how to best utilize them. For many organizations, annual open enrollment is the time to bring in providers to answer questions and discuss any changes, updates, or new features of policies. These informational sessions are a great way to promote wellness and all the benefits at employee’s disposal. Host smaller, refresher sessions during the year to remind staffers of their options.

If you have remote teams, or staffers that work different shifts, create a remote event they can sign into: then record the event for those who missed it. Ask your providers to talk about benefits offered, particularly those that you think might be under-utilized. Not everyone understands how telemedicine works: some aren’t taking advantage of the nurse hotlines. You can ask providers to pre-record info sessions that you keep available for staff to view when they have a need. Live and recorded sessions promote wellness as you inform your staff.

Making wellness part of your brand

Making wellness a talking point when you recruit — from job postings through the interview process — lets candidates know you’re committed to their health as well as their success.

As important as it is to make wellness part of your policy, it’s just as valuable to make part of your organization’s brand. When potential new hires understand your commitment to wellness and work/life balance, they will prioritize working for your company over others.

Making wellness a talking point when you recruit — from job postings through the interview process — lets candidates know you’re committed to their health as well as their success. At every step throughout the candidate experience, work to incorporate that message.

It starts with the posting

Include the range of health benefits your organization provides, including physical and mental health coverage, wellness programs, access to telehealth, 24/7 nursing providers, gym memberships, etc. Whatever you offer to current employees is always a selling point for potential new hires.

Include your paid time off policies, highlighting how many sick, vacation, and personal days are offered per year. You can even go beyond and mention that employees are required to take their personal/vacation time every year for their own well-being.

Incorporate work/life balance initiatives your company promotes. If you offer flexible shifts, compressed days, remote work, or other practices, make sure to highlight these. They inform candidates your organization is committed to creating a work environment that values employee’s personal and professional lives.

At every contact point with the candidate, make sure to emphasize the benefits you offer to assure they understand wellness is a part of your company brand.

The payoff for business

A recent study from Staples found how important health and wellness benefits are to employees and job seekers. A majority of workers in their survey, 62%, said they would accept a lower salary in exchange for better benefits. Another 38% said workplace flexibility was an important perk of their job.

In today’s challenging talent market, you’ll need to leverage every possible advantage when hiring. For recruitment, comprehensive health and wellness benefits may be the reason a candidate accepts your offer, rather than another.

When it comes to retaining employees, a Zenefits survey found half of workers are staying on the job primarily because of their healthcare benefits. Continuing to offer and enhancing the benefits you provide are a powerful retention tool for business. Making wellness a priority is a best practice for businesses and their employees.

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