Promoting employee wellness can be difficult when your team is distributed globally. With the rise of remote work in the future of work, it becomes even harder without in-person facetime. In a contained office, it’s easy to host impromptu lunches, engage in conversation, and feel unified. Timezones can be a huge culprit in creating interference, making it impossible to create a constant stream of connections.
However, similarly to work culture, employee wellness isn’t created overnight. Rather, it’s maintained throughout day-to-day processes and interactions. Employee wellness is key to building company culture. According to a survey by Jobvite, 46% of job seekers cite culture as “very important” when choosing to apply to a company.
It doesn’t end there–not only is culture and employee wellness a consideration for job seekers, but it’s also one for employees as well. A shocking statistic from a Politics At Work Survey revealed that “nearly 1 in 5 Americans have quit a job in the past five years due to toxic workplace culture–costing U.S. companies $223 billion in turnover.” Turnover isn’t only expensive, but excessive turnover can be a warning sign of problems with employee retention.
Here are some tips on how organizations can promote employee wellness:
- Have daily fireside chats
In order to learn, we must listen. Hosting daily fireside chats is the perfect way to break the ice and encourage conversation throughout the company. Start by inviting a guest speaker who you think would be a good fit. This could be a health and wellness speaker who can provide tips on how to promote employee wellness, a public speaker who can share their past experiences and learnings, a DEI consultant, and so on.
It’s important that fireside chats engage employees and open the floor for discussion. Whether you use fireside chats to reflect on current company culture and how it can be improved or look at more timely issues such as what to do during a pandemic, creating an open dialogue is key to improvement and employee engagement.
- Have a yearly retreat
Days off are ideal for recharging. While there are holidays throughout the year, for some industries, the holiday season is a time when business accelerates. This can make it difficult to truly unplug during the holidays, as a looming sense of guilt may occur if employees take off.
A yearly retreat can be a company tradition that invigorates employees and gives them something to look forward to. It’s the perfect space to get to know employees beyond a work capacity and truly focus on developing relationships.
Organizations can use their yearly retreat solely as a time of fun or use it to discuss work-related topics for the perfect balance. Hosting seminars, meetings, and presentations can also be a good way to engage employees in person. Plus, there’s always the fun (and lunch) that comes after.
According to Forbes, “Offsites and company retreats can help combat loneliness, which can reduce life expectancy by a staggering 70%.” When you’re working remotely, it’s difficult to connect with employees outside of meetings and emails. A yearly retreat moves the focal point away from work to pure human connection.
- Infuse the daily workflow with bits of fun
Fun is always subjective, but the fascinating part about fun is its sliding scale capability. From a full-fledged company party to something smaller like an engaging Slack channel, it’s all about creating little touchpoints of fun.
Slack channels can be a great medium to liven up the day. Creating a Slack channel for non-work and solely connection purposes can be a good way to engage employees and in turn, promote employee wellness. How? Employee engagement and appreciation are all factors of employee wellness.
Examples of Slack channels include:
– A hidden talents channel where employees can share their hidden talents
– A book club where employees can read the same book and analyze it together
– A recipe share where employees can share their favorite recipes
– A brainstorming channel solely for the purposes of brainstorming new ideas
– A gratitude channel where employees can practice mindfulness and share what they’re grateful for
– A pets channel where employees can share their pets so employees can gawk at the utter cuteness
It’s these little touchpoints that center us and take us out of our “work bubble.” You can also create a biweekly “fun” event focused on team bonding activities. At STADIUM, we have hosted fun events ranging from drawing sessions to virtual tours of Paris.
- Stay flexible
As Alexandra Rossman from Rent the Runway says, “The Future of Work is companies prioritizing flexibility in their initiatives. From benefits to team structures, allowing more nuanced scenarios to come to fruition will inevitably set the organization up for success.” Fostering company culture is all about iterating. It’s not meant to be solidified overnight nor is it meant to be stagnant to the times, so keep an open mind. For example, if your company has recently switched from a hybrid model to a remote model, think about ways in which you can retain culture. Or, if your company had in-person events frequently but now is fully remote, perhaps you could create virtual iterations of these events. The fun and culture shouldn’t stop just because your team is fully remote.
In fact, companies like Airbnb have switched to a hybrid model and have seen shocking results. When Airbnb mentioned it would allow employees to work from anywhere, its careers page received 800,000 views.
- Offer affordable health care plans
According to a Metlife study, “healthy employees are 74% more likely to be satisfied with their job and 53% more likely to be productive.” Health insurance is crucial to maintaining good physical health, which translates to a better workday. As Mindy Abodeely from Right Networks advises, “We all work better when we feel our best. We are more likely to take care of our health when we know we can afford to take care of our health. Careful consideration of the health plan(s) offered to employees in relation to pay and cost-of-living can make a huge difference in how much effort an employee puts into preventative care and booking appointments when they are not well.”
Don’t forget to prioritize mental health as well. Offering mental health therapy or counseling can help employees take care of their mental well-being.
- Make your weekly meetings something to look forward to
While it may sound antithetical to productivity to make a weekly meeting “fun”, there is a fine line between having a productive yet engaging meeting. Allocate some time in each weekly meeting to either
(a) celebrate employees’ achievements throughout the week. After all, employee recognition is the hallmark of the future of work.
(b) discuss any blockers. This is a great way to show your unwavering support to your employees and can help cut down on project completion time.
(c) acknowledge any birthdays or upcoming holidays. There’s always a reason to celebrate!
- Encourage taking time off
An organization’s response to an employee taking off will set the precedence for what sick days will look like. If there is consistently a heads-down culture where employees are dissuaded from taking off, burnout will be rampant. Mindy Abodeely, a Technical Support Supervisor, from Right Networks suggests, “A great phrase to use with employees who are sick and hesitating to take time off is, “We appreciate that you are trying to work, but please know, your health and wellness is our first priority.” Saying this with sincerity can be what gives an employee the peace of mind to take the time they need to get well.”
A MetLife study revealed that “72% of employees are interested in unlimited paid time off.” Ensure your employees are taking time off by encouraging it. Some employees may actually hesitate to take time off because unlimited paid time off is always ‘there’, thus not creating a need to take time off.
Prioritizing employee wellness leads to higher employee retention and a more engaged workforce. By keeping it top-of-mind, you’ll not only see fruitful results but the result of a more engaged and unified team–it’s a win-win.