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Employee Wellness Programs

Employee Wellness Programs Build a Dynamic Workforce

Employee Wellness Programs have gotten a lot of attention recently due to the pandemic.  However, they are actually nothing new.  The implementation of worker safety regulations traces back to 19th-century industrialization in the United States.

Today, many companies are realizing that health and wellness programs are essential ingredients to a productive team.

Human resources are found at the heart of that team, connecting all of the pieces and parts. Good HR managers consider health and safety initiatives to be some of the best practices and key responsibilities to their jobs. They know that the pulse of any organization is the people that it is comprised of.

To better understand the people in your team and wellness programs that work, this blog post is for you!

What is an Employee Wellness Program?

Simply said, employee wellness programs are those that help employees stay healthy.

Wellness programs are about caring for the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of employees.  Employee wellness programs can include breaking bad habits like smoking or eating poorly.  They also could be initiatives to promote stress reduction, emotional support, and therapy.

It is common for companies to include gym memberships as a benefit for their employees.  Now, many are considering less traditional initiatives, like providing employees with a nap room and bike-sharing programs.

Whether they consist of smoking cessation programs or campaigns to promote healthy food, wellness plans are assets.  HR Managers should determine and design a workplace wellness program that works best for their company.

How to Make a Wellness Plan for HR Professionals

Everyone wants to create a better, healthier work environment.  Health and wellness programs come in all shapes and sizes.  To increase workplace wellness and employee happiness, consider the following steps.

Take a Survey

To have a workplace health program that encourages employee engagement, the opinions of the team must come first.  Download an employee satisfaction survey to evaluate and find out the best way to satisfy employee needs.

Assess Employee Health

Additional resources might help you to formulate an idea of your employee’s health status.  The Center for Disease Control has a downloadable employee health assessment to guide you with this endeavor.

Look at Your Options

Determine which health campaigns, fitness memberships, and health coaching sessions are worth pursuing.  What are the central health issues that your workforce faces and what are the best ways to improve employee satisfaction?

Present Your Case

In order to gain the support of company executives, it is important to show the positive outcomes of workplace wellness programs.  While presenting, show that wellness initiatives are aligned with the company’s strategic goals.  This will encourage management to view it as an integrated element of the company’s mission.

Create a Structure

HR managers should bring together a committee of individuals who can help them build a solid program.  A good and feasible program design should be planned out and incentives and rewards for employee participation.

Use Channels of Communication

Create challenges, slogans, anything that grabs the attention of staff members and introduces regularity into your initiative.  Campaigns to encourage healthy eating, smoking cessation, and workout routines are a great start.

Observe Your Progress

Look at health care expenses, employee participation, and employees who changed negative health patterns.  Observation is a great way to improve and tweak workplace wellness programs to benefit employees and the company as a whole.

How do Workplace Wellness Programs Benefit Companies?

Aside from inspiring compassion and humanity in the workplace, employee wellness programs can prevent debilitating illnesses and chronic diseases. A great part of any wellness plan is to expand employee health care coverage to Include medical procedures that detect serious illnesses.  Some of the benefits of workplace wellness programs include

Increased:

  • Employee Morale
  • Happiness in the Workplace
  • Productivity
  • Recruitment Incentives
  • Team building

Decreased:

These benefits are especially important for HR managers to remember when designing and proposing a wellness program to company executives.  If the company deals with health-related issues, wellness plans can impact productivity levels and health care spending.

Employee Wellness Programs and Covid

For many people, the pandemic has been a traumatic experience.  Familial illnesses, quarantines, and continual stresses have strained many to their breaking point.

In order to ease employee grief and stress, many HR managers are incorporating emotional health into their wellness programs.  Here are some ways to effectively support employees during the pandemic.

  • Counseling Programs- Therapy programs can help employees to feel secure and navigate excessive stress.  Bereavement and familial stress may be preventing employees from focusing while at work.  Access to a specialist can help them to find clarity through difficulties.
  • Mindfulness Training- Meditation groups and mindfulness training can help employees to control their mental state and reduce conflict in the office.  It is an especially effective way of improving concentration through relaxation techniques.
  • Creative Therapy- Music and expressive art therapy are interesting options for employers who wish to improve collaborative communication skills. Employees will have outlets for their stress while refining out-of-the-box thinking patterns.
  • Diplomatic Relations- Cultivating a culture of understanding in the workplace is the best way to deal with contentious topics. Discussing topics like politics in the workplace requires patience and acceptance.  Avoiding difficult conversations can lead to unwanted elephants in the workplace.  In these situations, constructive communication is key.
  • Vaccine incentives- Extra vacation days and vaccine bonuses are some of the measures that employers have taken to encourage employee vaccination.

Important Leave Policies for HR Professionals

When thinking about workplace wellness, one must also think about employee work-life balance and time away from the office.  Workplace flexibility and extra hours off can positively impact the psychological health of any workforce. However, there are different kinds of employee leave and different policies for HR to consider.  They generally fall into two categories: paid and unpaid time off.

Paid Time Off

In the United States, there are no national laws that require paid time off for employees.  Instead, company and state policies determine paid leave for vacation, bereavement, and illness.  Although paid time off is not written into national law, it is a human necessity, especially during a pandemic.

Unpaid Time Off

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees in the United States can claim unpaid time off for the following.

  • Medical Leave- Employees who have worked for a company for at least 12 months and have worked more than 1,250 hours are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave.
  • Bereavement Leave- The 12 weeks of FMLA leave are given to workers taking care of dying loved ones or going through grief counseling.
  • Parental Leave- Eligible new parents can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA unpaid days.  Many use these days with accrued paid time off to manage expenses.

Unlike European countries, paid and unpaid vacation days in the United States are not written into any federal law.  They are dependant on the policies set in place by individual companies. Whether paid or unpaid leaves occur, human resources should find a clear systematic method of management.  With this being said, what is the best way to keep a record of planned and unplanned absences?

How to Keep Track of Time off

Use automated software to keep track of flexible work schedules and requested time off.  A time off tracker is especially useful for HR managers who wish to prioritize emotional and individual care to team members. Software can not provide your employees with compassion, but it can help with time management.

Another option to help with attendance management is an attendance excel template.  An organized spreadsheet can eliminate scheduling headaches and liberate HR professionals from unnecessary pressure.

Prioritize efficiency and lead your workforce towards a better, healthier, and dynamic future.

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