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Home » Why your Organization Needs a Health and Wellness Strategy + 5 Steps to Get Started

Why your Organization Needs a Health and Wellness Strategy + 5 Steps to Get Started

The pandemic has changed the way employees think about work. Health and wellness have become higher on the priority list, and with countless hours spent in meetings and staring at screens, employees are looking for more out of their jobs than just a salary, health insurance, and a 401(k). Luckily, as an HR professional, you have a unique opportunity to provide your employees with exactly what they’re looking for by developing a health and wellness strategy for your organization.

With 87% of employees considering health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer, it is now standard, and even expected, for organizations to put strategies into practice that holistically and comprehensively focus on the physical, emotional, mental, and financial health and wellness of its employees. What was once a nice to have, is now a need to have.

The best part? By supporting your employees in their journeys to optimal health, you can improve the health of your organization at the same time. Creating, prioritizing, and implementing a health and wellness strategy for your workforce can reduce stress and healthcare costs while increasing employee retention and productivity rates. It’s a win-win!

Making the Case for a Health and Wellness Strategy

The need for defined health and wellness initiatives is abundantly clear. In a post-pandemic world, a vast majority of employees are hitting the reset button to be better – physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. And when employees feel a sense of support and have a shared interest with their employer, they’re more invested in their work and are more loyal to the organization, ultimately fostering a culture full of positive, productive employees.

The importance of supporting the health and wellness of your employees has grown exponentially in the last several years. In fact, it is reported that 48% of employees who take advantage of their organization’s wellness programs are highly engaged, showing that even a conservative approach to a wellness strategy is better than no strategy at all. Defined wellness strategies help increase employee understanding and awareness of offerings, make it as easy as possible to participate, and reduce stigma.

In turn, both companies and employees are winning, with 70% of employees enrolled in wellness programs reporting higher job satisfaction than those not enrolled. By looking at what employees need, you can find better ways to support them, in turn allowing your organization to focus on its mission and work. Employee health and well-being is a crucial part of any organization’s business plan.

Why Employers Should Care

An organization’s biggest investment is its people. In order to effectively function and thrive, employers need to better understand how they can help their employees feel valued and supported in their personal health endeavors.

Creating and implementing a health and wellness strategy is a massive undertaking, that if carried out successfully, can lessen health concerns and risks, boost morale and teamwork, support culture, decrease absenteeism, and encourage positive long-term health habits.

A deep exploration and acknowledgment of the need for health offerings reveal that supportive programs can reduce overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. It is widely known that stress and burnout (including workload, non-competitive salaries, longer hours, minimal opportunities for growth, and lack of flexibility) can be damaging to a workforce. Reports show that 59% of American workers are experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout.

So how can employers help? Putting strategies and programs in place can mitigate stressful challenges often faced both in and out of the workplace. Promoting work/life balance, expanding support for mental and emotional health, health-maintenance programs, and even professional development plans can all assist in reducing stress levels.  

In addition to a decrease in stress levels, operating with health and wellness plans also leads to heightened employee satisfaction and greater performance output. When added together, many employers benefit twofold from both a reduction in costs and a significant return on investment (ROI). For employers who measure their programs, 90% see a positive return. Wellness strategies help minimize the financial burden associated with compensation rates and costs associated with healthcare, recruitment, and retention.

Developing a Health and Wellness Strategy: Five Steps to Get Started

Simply creating and implementing a comprehensive health and wellness strategy isn’t enough. To carry out a successful strategy, you need to ensure employees are not only aware of the offerings available to them but that they also have easy access to these offerings. In a recent study, 1 in 5 employees cited lack of awareness as the reason for not using offered benefits. To combat this, it’s crucial for HR teams to set a foundation that meets employee expectations, decreases absenteeism, boosts morale, enhances performance, reduces costs, and attracts and retains talent.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is! But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are five steps you can take to get started on the right path:

1. Conduct a Needs Assessment
No two organizations (or its employees) are alike. Before implementing a new health and wellness strategy, perform a thorough review of what your employees really want. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, and health risk assessments. Gathering data on the current health status will provide valuable information on where support is most needed and help you uncover themes, topics, and issues to learn the current circumstances of your organization, what is already working, and what changes need to be made.

2. Partner with Both Leadership and Employees
Prioritizing programs and offerings can only be done if there is support from all parties it will affect the most. Engaging leadership sets an example for an inclusive wellness culture, and getting employee buy-in ensures they will be invested and ready to participate. A solid partnership can also lead to more autonomy, allowing employees to better control where they feel they can make a difference.

3. Initiate Behavior Change Through a Customized Wellness Program
One of the many benefits of conducting a needs assessment is that it will reveal your employees’ specific health challenges and outline which offerings should be highlighted, while still focusing on overall well-being. There should be a variety of tailored activities and resources that can be customized ranging from nutrition and weight management, stress reduction and mental health education, and exercise and tobacco cessation programs, to name a few.

4. Provide Incentives
From tangible or cash rewards to reimbursements and points, incentives can significantly help to motivate employees to make and meet their health goals. Note: While your employees may be driven by different incentives, they should all lead to measurable results that hold everyone accountable for making positive changes.

5. Be Flexible
Any strategy, game plan, or approach will require flexibility. From launch to completion, it is imperative to monitor the program’s impact along the way and make any necessary adjustments to reach desired outcomes. In making any changes, having a communications plan in place is also critical. Strategies to spread awareness should promote the offerings and collect feedback from employees.

The main objective of a health and wellness strategy is to improve workplace culture and the health of employees while recognizing that everyone has different ways of managing their health. Through proper purpose and direction, a strategically planned program builds community, promotes participation, and fosters confidence and trust.

Via a comprehensive suite of programs, Marquee Health partners with organizations to deliver engaging and impactful health and wellness strategies to meet the unique needs of each and every employee. Contact us today to learn more about our holistic approach to wellness and let’s work together to improve the overall well-being of your workforce.