February is American Heart Health Month, a good reminder for all of us of the importance of overall health. That goes double for employers. After all, when employees are healthy, they’re more likely to be both happy and engaged at work — as well as more productive. In fact, according to the American Mental Wellness Association, companies can see productivity increases ranging from 12-20% when employees are happy at work. And, as we’ve said, being healthy makes employees happy.
There are a number of employee engagement strategies that organizations, their HR advisors, leaders, managers, and supervisors can take in the work environment and beyond, to change corporate culture and help make employees feel both healthy and happy. Here are some ideas to consider.
Leaders set an example that starts at the top of the organization. When they model healthy behaviors, their employees are likely to follow. Employees look to leadership behaviors to detect examples of what’s acceptable. If they see senior leaders taking time off when needed to refresh and recharge, they’ll feel less “guilty” about doing the same.
In fact, Gallup notes that “well-being initiatives that come out of the CEO’s office work best.”
When leaders model compassion and treat employees as human beings (and not numbers) employees are more likely to feel valued and stay with the organization. And they in turn will model compassion to their peers.
Healthy companies are easy to spot. They’re companies that encourage employees to engage in healthy behaviors and they integrate those beliefs and practices into their culture. Many have formal workplace wellness programs, gyms, and other activities. But they don’t have to. Simply encouraging healthy behaviors like eating healthy foods, taking walks, etc. can help employees understand the importance of prioritizing wellness.
Keep in mind that wellness isn’t just about physical wellness — mental, emotional, and financial wellness is important too. Take a holistic approach to employee wellness.
Create a Healthy Workplace
Healthy workplaces don’t require being located in a physical work setting. Healthy workplaces can exist even in fully remote or hybrid work settings. It’s all about the culture of the organization and consistency with messaging and behaviors — whether employees are in the office, on the road, or working from home.
The vision for healthy workplace culture starts at the top and is maintained by every employee within the organization. It includes the commitment of leadership, and policies and practices in support of wellness. That culture will also be supported by the physical environment and healthy people who are committed to a healthy lifestyle.
In 2023, Harvard Business Review says, leading organizations will support their employees through healthy workplaces that provide “proactive rest to help employees maintain their emotional resilience and performance,” as well as opportunities to discuss the challenges they face without “judgment or consequences,” and access to wellness coaches.
Bring in Health Specialists
In addition to wellness coaches, there are a wide range of wellness professionals whose passion and expertise can be called upon to give on-site workers access to the information, support, and resources they need to achieve work life balance and drive wellness. These might include physicians, financial advisors, mental health professionals, and others.
Invite these professionals in to give employees the opportunity to gain access to wellness support from the workplace — without having to take time off work. Even in a virtual environment, remote or hybrid employees can feel more engaged when they take part in some of these activities.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Behavior that is rewarded gets repeated. That goes for healthy habits too! Create ‘on the spot’ employee recognition programs to recognize team members who demonstrate healthy eating, exercise, or stress-busting activities. Calling them out not only recognizes and motivates them, it also makes an impact on those around them, creating competition and spurring others to take positive action.
Create Employee Challenges
Most people are competitive by nature. One great way to energize employees to participate in wellness initiatives is by creating employee challenge competitions. At Inspirus, for instance, we hold monthly challenges that incentivize employees by encouraging the right behaviors. For instance, this February we will have a “Walk Challenge” that promotes movement and exercise for one month. Participants will record their daily steps and receive points in our Connects employee engagement platform when they achieve different levels of “success.”
Wellness challenges are fun, promote accountability, and foster the camaraderie that improves company culture.
Measure Employee Happiness
Don’t just engage in activities without putting in place metrics to help determine whether those activities are making a difference. One very important source of information about how your wellness activities are working is seeking input from employees themselves, measuring how they’re thinking and feeling in meaningful ways.
Inspirus has partnered with The Happiness Index to provide employee feedback surveys that measure employee happiness and engagement. Neuroscience methodology is used to collect and analyze employee sentiment in real time so you can adjust your people strategy on the fly. In a constantly changing environment — internally and externally — the ability to capture and act on ongoing feedback is especially important.
Creating a healthier, engaged workforce reduces health risks and costs — improving absenteeism, happiness, and retention. Use these employee engagement ideas during American Heart Month to create a springboard for getting your employees healthier and happier, not just in February for all year round.
Topics: work-life balance, wellness, employee wellness programs, employee engagement, incentives, change management, culture