Employee wellness has been a rising industry over the past decade, and its growth has only accelerated during the global pandemic. Still, as a newer area for HR teams, the playbook for designing an employee wellness program may not be as clear as that for other employee benefits.
Companies need to make decisions on what to include in their wellness programs, what vendors to select, and how to implement the program with their employees and get them to adopt it.
We’ve created this guide that gives a brief overview of the best tips and tricks for corporate wellness.
How to Find the Ideal Wellness Program?
1) Evaluate the Results of Previous Wellness Programs
Look at what’s already been done at your company – understanding what has worked and what didn’t are key to moving forward.
Analyze the costs of any previous programs against their results for your employees. There isn’t a simple formula to determine the ROI of a wellness program, but by running surveys with your employees about the effectiveness of these programs and weaving in adoption and usage statistics, you can get a good idea of where past efforts were effective and where things fell flat.
In particular, the weak points of your previous efforts will help to guide you, both in selecting wellness program types, as well as in selecting a partner to help you more effectively improve employee wellness.
2) Determine Wellness Goals
Once you know where your company stands with wellness, the next step is to understand where you want to get to, both in the near and long terms.
For example: achieving 60% employee wellness program participation may be your short-term goal; reducing healthcare costs by 10% for employees is a longer-term goal.
You likely will create program-specific goals, particularly as wellness needs have shifted so dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. Mental wellness improvement, for instance, may be an immediate goal for your employees as they deal with work from home, isolation and more.
4) Survey Employees
Though you may have already surveyed employees on the effectiveness of past programs, a survey can also be used to determine what they are looking for and where gaps are in your current offering.
This is more important than ever; the needs of your employees always shifts a bit from year to year, but the pandemic has drastically changed many areas of life for your employees, and addressing those needs swiftly is crucial.
Top 5 Wellness Categories
There are dozens of wellness categories that you may choose to offer your employees. Some vendors offer a multitude of wellness options, or an all-in-one solution that bundles these together. Other vendors offer a hyper-specific wellness offering that integrates with your other wellness or HR solutions. Your current offerings and platforms will also play a role in what vendors you select.
Here are five employee wellness categories that are in highest demand on the Shortlister platform, which companies use to research and select wellness vendors.
1) Mindfulness at Work
Employees generally want to find something that is more than just a job – they want purpose, they want a place they can come and enjoy coworkers while feeling fulfilled.
This concept comes together in the mindfulness at work wellness space. These wellness programs intersect with many of the deeper, more vertical offerings.
Under the mindfulness at work umbrella are programs such as employee assistance programs (EAP), stress management programs, life purpose, and corporate resilience programs.
departments can focus on specific categories like reducing high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol.
2) Financial Wellness
Finances can be a big source of stress for employees, and it can be a key driver in someone accepting a new job. Financial wellness programs can help employees better understand how to make the most out of their money and alleviate stress in the financial realm.
Financial wellness programs can range from corporate student loan programs to financial coaching to investment advisors.
3) FITNESS PROGRAMS
Personal fitness has many benefits, from improved energy and focus to lowering health risks and improving the musculoskeletal system. For employers, getting fitness program adoption can actually help lower healthcare costs.
Corporate fitness programs have adapted over the past year, with demand for on-site gyms dropping significantly while on-demand, location agnostic programs growing quickly. Fitness trackers, training apps, personal trainers, and more all fall into this category.
4) Behavioral Health
Mental health was growing as an area of conversation and in wellness programs even before the pandemic, and that has only accelerated over the past year. How mental wellness connects to behaviors fits into the behavioral health wellness area.
There are hundreds of behavioral health program provicers. These provide mental wellness solutions, as well as those for recovery services, return to work programs and more.
5) Sleep Management
One of the faster-growing areas in wellness is in sleep management. The effects of sleep are well-documented, and they can impact productivity, mental wellness, physical wellness and more for employees.
Sleep management solutions range from sleep disorder testing to sleep tracking applications to sleep tests.
Considerations for Selecting Wellness Vendors
Once you have an understanding of the wellness programs that you want and need to provide to your employees, the next step is to find the partner vendors to help you execute your vision.
There is so much that goes into this selection process, but some general tips will help you get started.
- Identify your other wellness programs and offerings. Map out which programs and software tools need to integrate together in your wellness ecosystem. If an integration is a must, it will eliminate some offerings from consideration.
- Look at the typical company size and industry of the vendors you’re considering. Many wellness providers serve specific niches; a 100-person company can strike an enterprise solution from its list, for instance.
- Read reviews from users like you. Look for people in your industry or at similar-sized company, and read their feedback. The review economy is a real thing; if a solution is groundbreaking or if it falls flat, their customers will make sure it’s known.
- Understand your implementation needs. Vendor partners will have varying levels of service and guidance after you’ve purchased their solution. Get a clear understanding of what you will need and what each vendor you are considering will provide. Set clear expectations within the written contract to guarantee you have a successful implementation; a wellness program does no good if your employees can’t or don’t use it.
After you’ve narrowed your vendor list to a half dozen or so, you will typically go through the RFP process much like you would in any HR vendor selection. Once a vendor is selected, have a clear communication plan for rolling out programs with your employees.
Finally, set clear, quantifiable goals for implementation and adoption, and track those regularly to see progress. If the usage across your company is lower than expected, you will need to reassess and try new tactics. This is another place to survey employees to understand why they are or are not using their new wellness platform.
Don’t just track this data early on – survey employees every six months or a year to find out if anything has changed, if there are new pain points, and if they are still seeing value. You’ll want this data for the next time you make a change or addition to your employee wellness ecosystem.