Many organizations today are investing in wellness programs, yet only 24% of employees on average participate in them according to Gallup. Why? They found that awareness was low and support from their managers was lacking.
When diving in a little deeper with a client of mine, I found the top reasons why their employees did not engage and were not achieving their health goals. The first was that they did not have time. Second, they were too stressed out at work. The deadlines that were fast approaching, the long hours and the pressure to focus on work took away from wellness. While many companies offer wellness initiatives related to food and exercise, mental and emotional stress are not often addressed properly. Furthermore, when I polled 300 HR professionals in a recent webinar I held for SHRM, only about 10 percent said they have initiatives in place to address work stress.
HR executives from Criteo, FreshDirect, Univision and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia could certainly relate to these findings. These organizations came together for a closed-door executive roundtable where we discussed the challenges of increasing employee engagement in their wellness programs. They also shared the creative approaches they are taking to increase employee engagement and to improve the wellbeing of their employees.
Here are some key findings from the conversation:
1. Have wellness tie into the work of employees. At Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, they have found creative ways to integrate wellness into the work of employees. For example, their ad sales team have incorporated wellness initiatives and activities with their clients so both can benefit. To this day they have received lots of feedback from employees about how they appreciate all HR has done to make it a great place to work. Employees feel like the company cares and they definitely notice all of the initiatives they have been implementing regarding health.
2. Wellness can be a bottom up approach. In the case of Criteo, their wellness program is largely being driven from the bottom up and not so much from the top down. They do have top management approval but their millennial employees, which make up about 6 percent -70 percent of the population, are the ones behind it. For them it’s part of a bigger cause.
3. Recognize employees. At Univision, they have an initiative in place called “Pasa La Bola” that is generating a lot of buzz and excitement. Pasa La Bola or “pass the ball” in English is about recognizing employees and appreciating their work across different locations and functions. For example, the ball has been passed down directly from the CEO all the way down to the front desk to show his appreciation for their work. Each month five to six employees get nominated and chosen. And it is not just any ball they are using. It’s a World Cup soccer ball, which is something that truly resonates with their employees.
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