In today’s fast-paced and high-stress work environment, the need for employee wellness benefits has become increasingly important. In fact, more than 90% of workers state that their physical and mental well-being is just as valuable as their salary, according to a joint Deloitte and Swinburne University of Technology study.
While many Australian companies offer wellness benefits to their employees, many of these lack diversity and inclusivity. A study by HR and payroll software provider CIPHR revealed that employees and employers aren’t seeing eye to eye about benefits, with the most desired ones being mental health and wellbeing support and financial incentives. Despite this, the majority of wellness benefits often focus on mainstream health and fitness trends, such as gym memberships, yoga classes, and healthy eating initiatives. While these initiatives still benefit others, they may not cater to the needs and interests of all individuals due to their lack of flexibility. This can create a sense of exclusion and alienation for employees who do not fit the traditional mould of wellness. As such, below are a few ways in which employers can make their wellness programs more diverse and inclusive.
Gather employee feedback
While there are many ways to gather valuable insight that can help craft inclusive wellness benefits, gathering firsthand feedback from employees themselves is one of the best ways to go about it. There are a variety of methods that employers can use for gathering this specific data. Anonymous surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews are all effective ways to solicit feedback from employees. Additionally, employers can encourage open communication and feedback through regular check-ins with employees. This will not only create a culture that values and welcomes employee input but also foster an environment in which toxic personalities within the workplace cannot thrive and taint the wellness initiatives in place.
Feedback gathered directly from employees can help employers identify the areas of wellness that are most important to them. For example, many young employees want access to mental health support at their workplaces. Through gathering feedback from employees, employers can understand that because they often experience stress and anxiety related to their jobs, having a support system in place can make a significant difference in their overall well-being. By understanding needs such as these, employers can tailor their wellness benefits to address the specific concerns of their workforce, making them not only more inclusive but also more effective.
Review existing wellness programs
Many organisations already have wellness programs in place. However, a thorough assessment of these programs should be conducted to identify any gaps in inclusivity. This involves reviewing the design and delivery of wellness initiatives, as well as examining the content and resources offered to ensure that they are relevant and helpful to a diverse range of individuals. By conducting a comprehensive evaluation of these existing programs, organisations can identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions about how to enhance inclusivity.
Once the strengths and weaknesses of the existing wellness programs have been identified, organisations can begin to take action to offer more inclusive wellness benefits to employees. This may involve making changes to the structure and content of the programs, such as offering a greater variety of activities and resources to cater to different preferences and needs. It may also involve providing accommodations for employees with disabilities or health conditions to ensure that they can fully participate in the programs. Furthermore, organisations can consider implementing initiatives to reflect the cultural diversity of their workforce, such as offering mindfulness practices from different traditions or providing resources in multiple languages.
Find 3rd party partners
The greatest benefit of finding 3rd party partners to offer inclusive wellness benefits is the knowledge and resources they bring to the table. These partners are often experts in their field and can help organisations tailor their wellness benefits to meet specific needs, which can result in higher engagement and better outcomes. In the case of wellness offerings like weight management, companies that offer tailored weight loss programs would serve as more inclusive options than generalised blanket approaches that not everyone can access. Through its inclusions of personalised diet plans and exercise routines, cognitive behavioural therapy, and, in some cases, medication, they prioritise personalised solutions that cater to the unique requirements of each individual.
Another option would be prioritising food subscription services for employees to be able to eat food items that are not only healthy but also align with their dietary needs and preferences. Evidence even suggests food subscription services can offer critical perks to professionals, like better energy levels. Working with 3rd party partners like these can lead to cost savings for employers. By outsourcing wellness benefits to specialised providers, companies can often negotiate discounted rates and bulk pricing, ultimately saving on overall wellness program costs. This, in turn, allows companies to offer both more comprehensive and inclusive benefits to employees without significantly impacting their bottom line.
Consult with health professionals
One of the key benefits of consulting with health professionals is the expertise they provide. Health professionals such as doctors, nutritionists, and mental health counsellors can provide valuable insights and recommendations on the specific wellness needs of employees. They can help employers understand the unique health challenges and concerns that employees may face and suggest tailored wellness programs and services to address said needs. Mental health support, chronic illness management, physical fitness, and nutrition education are just a few of the areas that health professionals can aid with.
Consulting with health professionals also allows organisations to stay up-to-date on the latest health trends and best practices. With the rapid advancements in health and wellness research, it can be challenging for employers to keep pace with the most effective strategies for promoting employee well-being. By working with health professionals, they can gain knowledge of current and evidence-based approaches to wellness that can help create impactful and sustainable benefits for their employees.
Charlotte Smith is a passionate advocate for positive workplaces. With a deep understanding of human behavior and its impact on organisational dynamics, she strives to create environments that foster employee well-being and productivity.