Improving Employee Wellness in the Shadow of a Pandemic
This article originally appeared on hubinternational.com
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for organizations to support the physical and mental health of employees. Strengthen wellness programs and develop leadership training to enhance your team’s experience and improve recruitment, retention and engagement.
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, it’s clear employees want — and need — improved health and wellness offerings from their employers.
Roughly two-thirds of Canadian employees say they want to improve their work-life balance with 31% saying that building emotional resilience has become a priority in their lives.1
As a result, organizations need to play a larger role for the health and wellbeing of their employees — or risk losing them, as the massive amount of turnover during the pandemic has shown. Conversely, a commitment to employee wellbeing translates into improved performance and happier employees with greater loyalty.
Broadening the meaning of “wellness”
In response to expanded employee expectations, many employers are offering a wider array of resources and services. These forward-thinking organizations recognize that these are foundational benefits to employees, not just add-ons.
In addition, these employers are approaching employee wellbeing in an entirely new way through the following:
Focusing on mental wellbeing.
As the stigma of mental health issues fades, employers are improving their mental health support. Especially during the pandemic, practitioners are stretched for time, so many benefits packages include coverage for an expanded list of health professionals. Employers have improved mental health leadership training for managers and have raised the cap on benefit maximums for mental health.
Improving digital health options.
The COVID-19 pandemic facilitated the rollout of digital health delivery, as in-person visits with physicians became difficult. Telehealth and other digital health options are now considered important wellness benefits.
Emphasizing financial wellness.
Canadians are worried about paying off debt, inflation and long-term financial uncertainty.2 These personal issues carry over into the workplace, sapping employees’ time and energy. Financial wellness initiatives such as financial literacy education, debt reduction programs and strong retirement options have shown to reduce employees’ financial stress, improving productivity and engagement.
Creating a workplace that supports employee health.
Employers can encourage flexible working arrangements and support “right to disconnect” options. Another tactic is focusing on performance outcomes rather than hours worked.
Leadership training creates opportunities
Supporting employees through improved wellness offerings and workplace policies is a start, but it’s important that senior leaders and managers support in improving employee wellness. For instance, it’s critical for leaders to be empathetic, compassionate and trustworthy, especially now:
With employees facing numerous financial, physical and mental health challenges, management needs to be approachable and relatable so employees feel comfortable asking for help.
However, many managers and executives may not be able to recognize mental health and other wellness challenges. Organizations can provide training so that their leaders can recognize and support their employees suffering from burnout or other preventable health issues, while fostering an environment that prevents these issues from occurring in the first place
Creating the right workplace culture means supporting employees and building community — and not coincidentally, these areas also drive employee attraction, retention and engagement.
Contact HUB International to learn about how wellness programs support employees and improve their engagement.
ONPHA has partnered with HUB International on a new and improved Group Benefits Program for ONPHA members. Learn more and make the switch today.
1 Athabasca University, “New study uncovers culture-shift across the nation as people prepare to fly the pandemic coop,” June 22, 2021.
2 CIBC, “Paying off debt is Canadians #1 financial priority as inflation, COVID-19 top list of economic worries for 2022: CIBC Poll,” December 29, 2021.