As an employer, you depend on your employees to keep your business running strong. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to provide support and connection for your remote, office, or other onsite workers. Providing benefits and support for employee health, wellness, and work-life balance is critical for helping them stay healthy, engaged, in place, and performing well in their jobs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Well-being is the ability of individuals to address normal stresses, work productivity, and realize one’s highest potential.”1 Further, good health helps improve employees’ quality of life, lessen their risk of health or injury-related issues, and enhance their job performance.1
Investing in employee health and well-being ultimately can help yield positive outcomes for your company. Recent research found that employee loyalty has improved by 79% through the addition of wellness programs, leading to employee retainment and cost savings.2
Employee Stress and Stigma of Mental Health
Many of today’s workers are experiencing changes, challenges, or pressure in their jobs, homes, and lives. These circumstances can negatively affect their physical, emotional, and mental health. They may be working from home with a disconnect from co-workers and relationship building, taking care of children and elder family members, worrying about uncertainties for themselves and those they love2. This can all cause tremendous stress.
Recent research showed that 2020 brought the most stress than any other time for the workers surveyed.2 Among the findings, 78% said they have experienced negative mental health effects from the pandemic, 76% said employers should increase action to support employees’ mental health, and 85% said stress associated with work has affected their life at home.2
There are many health and wellness programs, activities, or services that you can offer to remote and onsite workers as part of your benefits plan or through your workplace. Yet, keep in mind, some employees may still feel a stigma about discussing their situations or even understanding or acknowledging their issues.2 They may also feel concern or discomfort about privacy if they participate in virtual therapy or group workshops.2
Expanding Mental Health and Wellness Initiatives
What mental health and wellness support can you provide for your employees working remotely or onsite? How can it improve their well-being and performance?
First, it’s important to gauge the level and types of support needed by your employees. You may gather this information from surveys or supervisor conversations with staff, or by adding a wellness section on employee reviews.2 Training, mentoring and interactive groups with employees also may become platforms for discussion and education.
In the pandemic era, many employers have expanded mental health and wellness resources to help care for their employees.3 A recent report found that 88% of American businesses have invested more money in mental health. Additionally, over 80% are putting more dollars into stress management and resilience.3
Last year, many companies promoted employee health, wellness, and safety to help ensure successful returns to work. This included promotion of employee assistance programs and other benefits, healthy habits development, and holistic well-being programs.4
Additionally, some companies may look to extend other workplace benefits to help support employee well-being and engagement. Examples are employee recognition, time paid off, training in leadership, and volunteer opportunities.1
Going Digital and Virtual with Support
Today, many businesses are moving toward virtual programs as benefits that support employee physical and mental health and wellness. These may include online wellness programs or group activities for health, moving, and social connection. Examples are digital therapeutics and coaching, telehealth, well-being challenges, Zoom or team workouts for exercise, and daily stand-ups.4
Companies like Salesforce, Zoom, and Starbucks, also have brought their employee wellness support online through the availability of digital applications (apps) and virtual tools.2 These have included meditation apps, such as Headspace, and outsourced virtual therapy and counseling, such as Lyra Health.2
Creating Work-life Balance
Another step to improving employee health and wellness is creating a balanced work culture and connected workforce. For example, flexibility in schedules, team relationship building, manager-employee relationship building, and routine evaluation of the balance of work and resources can lead to reduced employee stress, anxiety, and burnout.3
A shift from providing traditional wellness programs to forming healthy workplaces is the concept of the Work Design for Health framework created by Harvard and MIT researchers.5 This framework revolves around remodeling workplace environments and social conditions to help improve health, well-being, engagement, and productivity for employees.5 Its three strategies focus on employee input on work schedules and conditions, work moderation, and training and support toward social relations.5 In one case study, the researchers found an increase in productivity, decrease in stress, and reduced likelihood of quitting among high-tech workers who had increased control of their work schedules.5
Reach Out for Support
Providing mental health and wellness support programs for your employees is vital today. If you need guidance with creating your benefits plan, you can contact a PEO any time for assistance. They can help you find the right fit and walk you through the process.
We are always here to help. For more information, please contact our Human Capital team.
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