Employee wellness or employee wellbeing – is there any difference between the two?
Well, the two concepts are common in a way, for they both focus on employees’ ‘goodness’. However, while the former is geared towards the physical health of the employees, the latter adopts a more holistic and broader approach.
A recent survey revealed that close to 90 percent of the respondents wanted more emphasis on overall wellbeing than just on physical health. And when you focus on employee wellbeing initiatives, employee wellness automatically kicks in.
Concentrating on the complete fitness of your employees from a holistic wellbeing perspective, helps you appeal to their intrinsic motivation and guide them toward real behavioural change.
Wellness vs Wellbeing: The Debate
The term, wellness, loosely concerns the physical body, and the wellness programs focus more on disease prevention, management, health assessments, etc. They are one-off initiatives that tell the employee about the actions they need to take and hardly leave any room for individual choices.
This means that a majority of wellness programs tend to go unnoticed, as they prompt some enrolment and one-off actions but not necessarily lead to a behavioural change or other far-reaching impacts.
On the other hand, employee wellbeing is a bird’s-eye view of the employees’ mental and emotional quotient as well as their productivity and ability to perform their best. Some programs even consider employee’s financial health and the strength of their social networks as parts of their overall wellbeing.
Since wellbeing programs adopt an integrated rather than a siloed approach, they touch upon the different aspects of the employee experience and have a better chance of engagement.
According to a study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, employee wellbeing programs are growing in corporate circles, where the wellness programs of the past are being replaced or built out with more options for the overall wellbeing of the employees.
Most of the employees’ wellness programs were formulated more than three decades ago and have now evolved into wellbeing programs with a broader and greater reach.
Twenty-five percent of the businesses expanded their wellbeing offerings between 2016 and 2017. Also, out of the 60 percent of the companies that have wellness budgets, half expect this allocation to increase over the next 18 months.
The Benefits of Employee Wellbeing
Employee wellbeing programs come with an array of benefits. Studies show that high employee wellbeing can boost satisfaction, teamwork, and productivity, and can even improve a company’s bottom line.
Fit Employees are Engaged Employees
Employees who are at the peak of both their mental and physical health are more likely to be committed to their work. Since they feel that their employers support them, they are willing to put in more effort. Also, they are better equipped to handle the stress possibly received from client demands and deadlines.
As a result, they are more productive and capable of contributing to a positive work environment.
Healthy Employees Don’t Miss Work
When employees struggle with personal, emotional, or health issues, they call in sick more often. Even if they are at the office, they might not be so productive. When you focus on the employees’ wellbeing, you can expect a happier workforce who does not feel like being forced to report to work.
Employees muster themselves up, roll their sleeves and get the job done. Even though employee wellbeing programs come with a cost, they save you money in the long run.
Happy Employees Stay Longer
Leadership that focuses on the holistic wellness of the employees encourages them to stick with your company for long.
Employees, who feel that their company values them as individuals and not treats them as mere workers, are more likely to continue working for the company for the long haul instead of hopping to better prospects. When wellbeing is paired with other benefits, it creates a happier team of workers.
How to Boost Employee Wellbeing at the Workplace?
As seen, employee wellbeing comes with a slew of positive effects, and having an effective plan in place to empower employee wellbeing creates a productive workplace.
Here are some tips to boost the wellbeing of your employees:
Throw a Fitness Challenge
Unlock the spirit of fun and healthy competition amongst the peers to drive up the team spirit. Rather than just having enforced enrollments for various fitness programs, you can actually encourage more participation by providing a challenge to push your employees a step further.
Besides, these programs don’t cost much to launch and deliver outsized benefits fostering both team building and wellbeing.
Provide Flexible Options
As mentioned in the beginning, employee wellbeing is not just about physical health, but also about one’s overall quality of life. Our life is multifaceted, and so it also makes sense to recognise life outside of work.
Providing flexible work options empowers employees to alter their work habits to accommodate their personal needs and continue to work on other projects which give more meaning to their lives.
As long as they hit deadlines and deliver results, flexible work options enable employees to feel more like partners than corporate drones – and they will willingly put in more effort in their work.
Focus on Personal Development
No one desires a dead-end job and employees, especially the younger population, crave progress that puts them onto the path of self-development. Therefore, provide your employees with personal and professional development opportunities that inspire them to share their knowledge and experiences.
Creating individual development plans in accordance with the employees’ goals is a great way to ensure that a greater sense of purpose is accounted for and their overall wellbeing is well looked after.
Make Recognition and Praise Part of Organisational Culture
Perhaps, one of the easiest ways to implement a simple wellbeing initiative is to recognise employees for their efforts and contribution.
This is especially effective for millennial employees, who are accustomed to receiving praise from a very young age. Being a part of the so-called “self-esteem generation,” they often crave recognition more than a pay raise.
Volunteering and CSR Initiatives
It may seem like the last thing anyone has time for in a busy workplace. However, volunteering activities have a far-reaching effect that creates higher positivity.
A range of studies suggests that volunteering enhances several critical aspects of personal wellbeing, including happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, and physical health. It also helps in overcoming depression.
Promote Mental Health Awareness and Counselling
The best estimates from the World Health Organisation suggest that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It’s relatively safe to guess that in almost any workplace, you’ll find at least a few employees who suffer from depression.
Join the fight against depression by offering mental awareness programs and counseling to help employees seek help at the right time.
For example, ‘Thrive’ is a customised stress management program by Uber which provides weekly lessons for employees by featuring videos of Uber’s leaders who offer tips on effective stress management.
Similarly, Deloitte’s DMOM Programme consists of counseling sessions on Postpartum Depression that employees face. It provides the mother with emotional support and nutritional advice while also extending the coaching support to the spouse as well as the reporting manager.
Better Wellbeing = Higher Wellness
While both concepts cannot be used interchangeably, they are closely related to each other. The more there will be wellbeing opportunities offered in the workplace, the better your employees will be. “It’s tough to be well in one area when you are unwell in another.”
Therefore focus on the holistic wellbeing of your employees so that they feel more invested at work.