The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the corporate world upside down. What worked well pre-pandemic will no longer work post-pandemic. Companies worldwide have had to develop innovative ways to cater to their employees and their clients. Wellness programs have been a staple in organizations for many years, but the switch to working from home has caused a significant shift in how these programs operate. I remember my first week on the job seeing people “getting their steps in” every hour. It seemed like someone new was passing my desk every 5 minutes. Little did I know, there was more to it than my co-workers getting their steps in. They were participating in a wellness program challenge. The days of seeing your co-workers getting up and motivating you to participate in these wellness program challenges are long gone due to many people still working from home. This problem brings up a vital question for many organizational leaders: “How do we get employees to participate in our wellness program when they aren’t in the office?”
First, you need to understand why employers should care about wellness program participation. For many organizations, the leading expense is related to their benefits package they offer. With healthcare prices rising steadily, it doesn’t look like this trend will cease anytime soon. The bottom line is that the less healthy your employees are, the more they will cost you to insure. One way to combat rising healthcare costs is by establishing a wellness program aimed at curating a healthier workforce. Healthier employees tend to have less serious health problems, leading to fewer claims, ultimately saving the company money. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love to save money?
The days of having everyone in the office at the same time might not return for a while, so a business needs to adapt their wellness programs to reflect this change. Here are some ways companies are catering their wellness programs to their workforce while working from home:
Offering Services Online
Since many of us are working from home, it no longer makes sense to bring in a fitness trainer or cook to improve employee wellness. Instead, why not bring the trainer directly to employee’s homes? The pandemic has caused many of us to broaden our technological skills. I mean, had anyone used Zoom regularly before last year? With this technology at our fingertips, we can bring wellness seminars to our employees via streaming services, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It allows employees to reap these seminars’ benefits from the comfort of their own homes. Oh, and one more bonus. Organizations can record these seminars and send them out to employees who couldn’t make it for the live recording. These recordings could be highly beneficial to companies because these events can now be observed anywhere, anytime. This added advantage could lead to more employees participating in your wellness program offerings.
Creating Team Challenges
I know one of the things I missed most about being in the office is seeing my co-workers and catching up with them. Since they are working from home, many employees today feel disconnected from the organization. They no longer get to see their friends in-person at work and can no longer pop over to someone’s cubical to say hello. By creating team wellness challenges, people who feel disconnected can regain a sense of belonging to the organization. Incorporating team challenges into your work-from-home wellness program will give employees the extra push they might need to participate. When you are on a team, even if it’s a new one, you feel more responsibility than doing something alone. Incorporating team challenges into your wellness program could be one way to increase the number of employees participating in your wellness program.
Mental Health is Key
The pandemic has been an extremely stressful time for many. Employees now have to juggle work, being a teacher, and being a parent all at the same time. Sadly, this has caused many individuals’ mental health to deteriorate throughout the pandemic. According to a CDC study, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse during the pandemic. With the decrease in mental wellbeing, it is now more critical than ever for employers to offer mental health support through their wellness program. Providing employees subscriptions to meditation apps or free counseling services could be highly beneficial to your wellness program. Adding this personal touch to your program conveys to your employees you genuinely care about their health. When employees know you care about them, they are more likely to care about your organization. This could lead to an increase in employee participation, saving your company thousands of dollars.
No Gym, No Problem
Many people are still not comfortable going to their gyms because of COVID-19, which has led to a drop in those exercising. As a result, there has been an increase in those who are considered obese. This rise in obesity puts employees at risk for many chronic conditions, raising the cost to insure them. This increased risk can still be countered by offering employees at-home training subscriptions. Apps such as Peloton and Apple Fitness + provide subscriptions for between $10-$15 a month. These apps provide at-home workouts that can be done with ease and little space. Presenting employees subscriptions to apps such as these through your wellness program could drive the number of those identified as at-risk within your organization to drop dramatically. You tell me, would you rather pay $15 a month for each employee’s subscription or thousands of dollars for chronic disease treatment? The choice is yours.
Wellness programs have never been more critical than they are now. With the rapidly changing work conditions throughout the U.S., it is essential to make sure your wellness program is adapting. With the tips provided above, you could be on your way to developing a successful wellness program for your employees who are still working from home.