From XU Magazine, 
Issue 30

How to Create a Wellness Program in Your Workplace

Employee wellness is more important than ever - so don’t neglect this!

Want to increase staff retention and attract top players? A wellness program is almost essential. Here’s how to implement something simple...
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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As ‘The Great Resignation’ continues to dominate headlines, employees everywhere are re-evaluating the role of work in their lives. For many, work has become more than something they do simply for financial compensation. Instead, workplaces are being evaluated based on how they contribute overall to their employees’ work and personal life. The pandemic has also created many new health and wellbeing challenges, so employee wellbeing is something that EVERY company needs to address.

So how can you implement a Workplace Wellness Program that actually works? You might think of gym memberships and fruit bowls, but there’s more to wellness than measures like these. A good wellness program involves creating and maintaining a sincere interest and commitment to helping employees lead healthy lives – both in their work, AND personal lives. 

Steps to Creating a Wellness Program

Here are the broad steps to go through in creating a wellness program for your business…

1) Gain Management Commitment

First and foremost, you need to seek management support for an employee wellness program. Communicate how wellness ties into the current strategic priorities and the company’s stated values. After appealing to their sense that ‘it’s the right thing to do’, back this up with more tangible benefits such as;

  • A competitive advantage when recruiting
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Increased retention (resulting in a reduced need for recruiting)
  • Increased employee engagement
  • And ultimately, increased productivity and innovation

2) Create a Wellness Committee

To get employee engagement and design a program that best meets the needs of more employees, put together a wellness committee. Ideally, this should be a cross-functional and diverse team to best represent different groups of employees.

3) Determine Employee Needs

Once a committee is established, their first action-item should be to discover the wellness needs of employees. If you’re using an HR system like HR Partner, you should be able to create a custom form to do this. Also consider conducting interviews or focus groups with groups of employees.

The areas that a wellness program might cover include;

  • Work flexibility 
  • Physical activity
  • Nutrition
  • Smoking cessation
  • Alcohol consumption reduction
  • Sleep improvement
  • Stress management
  • Physical environment
  • Healthcare access
  • Social & emotional needs
  • Community service

4) Design the Wellness Program

So now it comes time to actually design your wellness program. This sounds like a big job as you probably have all kinds of ideas you’d like to incorporate, but in general, it’s best to keep the scope small and get started with something. Do your brainstorming and make sure everyone’s ideas are heard, then focus the discussions on the highest priority and easiest to implement ideas. It can help if you decide on a direction you’d like to take (eg a theme of the month), but don’t feel like you need to map out an entire year of initiatives. In fact, it’s best to remain agile and learn from each new initiative added so that the feedback can inform future initiatives.

The goal here is to design a program of wellness initiatives that are accessible and cover the needs of most employees. 

5) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

With your Wellness Program ready to go, you now need to communicate it everywhere. Use different channels to ensure everyone is aware of the program. This might include chat programs, official announcements in company meetings or town halls, ensuring managers include it as an agenda item in team meetings, inclusions in company newsletters, explanatory emails, etc.

Communicate both the program details, but also the benefits of participation. You might also want to consider including incentives or some kind of gamification to motivate employees to participate. The goal is for employees to get the message that their organization cares about their health and wellbeing, everywhere they turn.

Potential Components of an Employee Wellness Program

There is an endless list of possibilities to include in your wellness program, but to give you some ideas, we’ve put together a list of ideas.

Get Started with Your Workplace Wellness Program

As is said about many things, the best time to start your wellness program was probably 5 years ago. But the second-best time is right now. 

Even if you don’t feel qualified or know exactly what you’re doing, the sentiment of the direction you take the program will be appreciated by your workforce and is likely to have many positive flow-on effects. 

If you’re in doubt as to where to focus, be aware that the pandemic is causing a huge increase in mental health issues so this is probably a great area to start with. Increased stress and anxiety, loneliness, depression, and working from home sometimes leading to longer hours have all contributed to this. 

Whatever you start with, try to design your wellness program to appeal to the majority of your team, while being careful not to alienate others. Participation is the key to a successful program and building a culture of health and wellness should be the ultimate goal.

Why leave it there?

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