By Natanya Rutstein
Overnight changes brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic together with the looming social and economic challenges make it all the more important for HR professionals to put in place a comprehensive offering of employee wellbeing programmes to support both the physical and mental wellbeing of the workforce. Failure to make this a business priority may well have a negative impact on engagement levels and see a rise in employee turnover, absenteeism, presenteeism and stress levels often leading to workplace burnout.
Wellbeing programmes may also need to be adapted to provide for the needs of an expanded remote workforce. For example, exercise apps could replace the company gym and online counselling or coaching sessions may be conducted via Zoom. Your wellbeing strategy must be adjusted according to the needs of your workforce composition and structure in 2020.
The “Whole” Employee
More and more organisations are designing their wellness programmes using a holistic approach which extends beyond physical and mental wellbeing to include environmental, spiritual, social as well as occupational wellness. Employers are also integrating social development programmes with wellness initiatives in order to provide meaningful work. A holistic approach to employee wellness will assist in cultivating a culture which values overall employee wellness and job satisfaction as much as work performance.
In a 2020 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report, employers expressed the intention to increase their investment in mental health, stress management, mindfulness and meditation, and financial wellness programmes. Investment in health risk assessments, biometric screenings, health fairs, fitness classes, and health coaching was expected to decrease. According to the report, “The common theme amongst these programmes (and others that ranked high for less investment) are that they are services, which means they are harder to scale, cost more per engaged employee, and are often unavailable to remote employees.”
We are living in a world where so many of our needs are being met by highly personalised experiences curated specifically for us. With the help of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data, many organisations are moving towards the design of “Netflix”-type” wellbeing offerings which aim to meet the specific needs of individual employee’s or employee groups. Personalised wellbeing offerings are more likely to entice employees into participating in wellbeing initiatives and empowering them to take responsibility for their own wellbeing programme.
2020 is without doubt the year for employers to make a purposeful and genuine attempt to render the crucial support needed to promote and sustain employee wellbeing.