3 Self-Inflicted Obstacles That Are Stopping You From Improving Employee Well-Being

2018 is your year to improve employee well-being and make a lasting impact on your culture. Unfortunately, many employers still struggle to empower their staff to get healthy. Chances are, this is self-inflicted.

Without realizing it, employers prevent employees from making real changes to their lifestyles. The occasional healthy meal potluck and step competition is not nearly enough. As the old adage goes — you only get out what you put into it.

Here are some common obstacles that may be hurting your wellness program and tips on how to overcome them:

Lack of Communication

Wellness benefits like EAPs, which can deliver a lot of value to employees, are not being taken advantage of. In fact, the Chestnut Global Partners’ 2017 EAP industry trends report found that the current EAP usage rate across the industry is just 6.5 percent.

This isn’t surprising when you realize what most employers say about employees’ feedback on wellness benefits.

My company, LifeWorks, recently conducted a survey and found that employers said the top reasons employees don’t use their wellness benefits is because their employees aren’t aware of those benefits and they don’t understand how to use them.

The good news is that employers are self-aware — 78 percent of them think their company can improve how they communicate about their wellness initiatives.

You can’t improve employee well-being if your staff doesn’t know about health events, wellness benefits, and other aspects of your wellness program.

To effectively promote your wellness program and benefits, start by surveying your employees to assess their levels of awareness and engagement in the program. Then, create an action plan that includes communication strategies meant to get employees excited. For example, consider creating a wellness committee.

Wellness committees consist of employees from all departments and levels of your organization. These committee members act as ambassadors to actively promote your wellness initiatives.

They should also design your benefits and wellness communications plan for your onboarding process. This way, new hires can hit the ground running.

Disjointed Culture

According to our survey, employers say another main reason employees don’t use wellness benefits is because they have no interest and don’t feel supported to address their personal well-being.

This isn’t an individual problem; it’s a culture problem.

Awareness is the first step, but awareness alone gets you nowhere. Your employees won’t take action and focus on their well-being if they don’t feel supported or encouraged to do so.

To foster a supportive community, look for culture-building activities that are more engaging than quarterly company picnics. Plan monthly wellness events that tie to themes, like financial wellness, sleep hygiene, and weight management.

Once you have a wellness calendar planned out, earn buy-in from upper management. In fact, higher-ups should be leading by example.

For instance, executives should aim to make healthier meal choices at company lunches. They should come out of their office and invite teams to join them for short exercise breaks.

When they show employees that well-being is important to their day-to-day, employees will feel more encouraged and willing to participate.

Poor Employee Experience

When employees are drowning in work, they don’t make their health a priority. This is a fairly common condition in the modern workplace.

In the 2017 Officevibe poll, 23 percent of employees said they leave work feeling drained every day. Even more startling, six out of 10 employees notice their job is taking a toll on their personal life.

Not only does employee burnout have a negative impact on their overall well-being, but also it leads to staff churn. A 2017 survey from Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found that 95 percent of human resource leaders say employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention. Additionally, 46 percent say burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual turnover.

A big factor of feeling overwhelmed and drained is time. Employees have too many projects and not enough hours in the day. In fact, our survey found that employers say another top reason employees don’t use wellness benefits is because they don’t have the time.

The employee experience is where you make or break your chances of improving employee well-being. If employees feel like they are chained to their desk and don’t have time to take care of their health, take a closer look at their typical workday.

To improve the employee experience, provide them with the tools and the time they need to add some activity to their day. For example, host a ‘Fitness 15’ every few hours, where employees can get into groups and do bodyweight exercises or go on walks. Also, encourage them to take a relaxation break to meditate or simply to get away from their computer.

Your wellness committee and leadership team need to be actively involved in these exercise activities. When you build wellness activities into the workday, you show them that their well-being is as important as their workload.

Don’t make 2018 another year of declining or stagnant employee well-being. Turn things around by identifying the obstacles you helped create and building a strategy to overcome them.

How are you planning on improving employee well-being in 2018?

Like what you read? Give Heather R. Huhman a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.