Similarly to any change that happens within organizations, implementing a successful employee wellbeing program needs a structure, planning and a proper employee communications strategy. In order to get the best out of your new initiative, employees have to be aligned, they have to understand its benefits and they need to have support from their superiors and leadership.
Let’s take a look into the crucial steps for implementing and maintaining your employee wellbeing program.
1. Get executives’ buy-in and support
Getting executive buy-in is the first step to getting started with your employee wellbeing strategy. Whenever there is change happening, it’s important to maintain executives’ buy-in and support over time. More than ever before, leaders need to act as role models to the entire company.
They need to understand the importance of their role in situations such as this crisis. Leaders are the ones from whom employees expect support, they expect them to be authentic and approachable. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about employees' wellbeing can go a long way in encouraging employee engagement and participation in wellbeing programs.
2. Send a company-wide wellbeing survey
Many organizations that want to implement an employee wellbeing program simply don’t know where to start. Start with your employees!
In order to build the best program, you first need to understand your employees’ fears, needs, wants, problems and concerns. Only then you can really make sure that your program will be efficient, and that it will deliver the expected results.
However, many employers struggle to collect feedback and survey responses from their employees. This happens mostly because surveys get delivered to the channels that employees may ignore, and because organizations don’t have an easy way to consolidate all their communication channels into a single platform.
If you are looking for some wellbeing questions for your survey, start with simple and straight-forward open or scale questions such as:
- My company demonstrates a commitment to the wellbeing of employees
- I believe employee wellbeing is a priority at my company
- Our culture encourages a balance between work and family life
- My manager genuinely cares about my wellbeing
- With the emergence of remote work, I often feel lonely and left out
- When I feel stress and anxiety, I feel supported by my employer
- I tend to bounce back quickly after challenging times
- My work has a big impact on my wellbeing
- Name a few ways you believe your employer can improve wellbeing of its employees
3. Create a wellbeing program based on your employees’ feedback
Use employee feedback captured in your surveys to better plan for your wellbeing program. Based on the insights collected, you can make a better decision on what your program should contain.
For example, if you find that your employees feel disconnected due to social distancing, the social component of their wellbeing may be hurt. If true, one component of your wellbeing program should be to improve workplace communication and implement digital solutions that can help your employees stay connected with their peers and managers.
If you find that your employees are stressed or experience health issues, your wellbeing program should focus on providing some mental health benefits.
In other words, don't guess! Make smart decisions based on your employees’ feedback.
4. Define the goals
As you will see later in this article, there are numerous benefits of investing in employee wellbeing. Based on the challenges your organization is facing, some of your goals may be:
- To increase staff satisfaction
- To increase staff morale
- To improve staff retention
- To increase productivity
- To reduce absenteeism
- To foster better relationships between staff and management
- To increase open communications
5. Launch your wellbeing program and make the company-wide announcement
This is a crucial step!
The effectiveness of your new program will greatly depend on your ability to spread the word across your entire organization and reach every employee with the news. As mentioned earlier, organizations need to ensure the right flow of information by consolidating different communication channels into a central communications platform.
What’s the primary communication channel used at your company? Do people use email, Slack, the company's intranet or something else? Within large organizations, it may be hard to fully understand how employees use those various channels. As a consequence, important information is likely to get lost.
In addition, communication has to be personalized and relevant. To ensure relevance and avoid information overload, target your communications to relevant employee groups based on their locations, demographics, job functions and interests. One size does not fit all!
6. Promote your wellbeing program and communicate its benefits to build internal awareness
If employee wellness programs are built to achieve desired outcomes, effective internal communication to drive employee participation is a must. Employees need to understand the benefits of wellbeing for both of them personally as well as the organization as a whole. Only then you can align your workplace to work towards the same wellbeing goals that you have previously identified.
Unfortunately, in today’s environment of information overload, cutting through the noise of competing messages and workplace priorities can be very challenging.
To encourage your employees to participate, you need to inspire them with useful and engaging internal content. For example, you can publish a seasonal wellness announcement with helpful videos, share employee stories, promote wellbeing training sessions, deliver free resources and other related content to keep wellbeing on top of your employees’ minds.
Again, such information needs to be relevant, beneficial, and delivered in a timely manner. Employees that work in the United States are likely to have different employee wellbeing programs than the ones working in Asia or some other continent. Their cultures are different, they are facing different challenges and they are also located in different time zones.
Your internal communications platform should enable you to create various internal audiences and schedule your wellbeing communications to be delivered at optimum times for a maximum readership, including regular prompts and reminders to maintain the momentum.
7. Get your managers on board
Managers are the ones that usually have the strongest connections with their teams and, therefore, serve as an important source of information about company’s news and updates.
Therefore, managers must see the connection between employee wellbeing and the company success, and they have to be enthusiastic about supporting employee wellbeing.
In addition to making company-wide announcements, managers should continuously remind their teams about the benefits of wellbeing and ensure that employees have access to important information. Before anything else, they should always encourage open and empathetic conversations with and among their teams.
But employers also need to make sure that managers get proper training and have an easy access to all the wellbeing materials they need such as guidelines and toolkits.
8. Continuously encourage employees to participate and solicit their ideas
Employers should continuously encourage their employees to participate in the wellbeing programs and make suggestions for improvements. This approach helps employees better understand their role in creating a culture of wellbeing.
When you spot those employees that are actively engaged, make them your wellbeing champions and ambassadors.
Those employees who are passionate about creating happier, healthier, and more resilient work environments can also help you spread the word and even help you launch the program in new office locations. These people, however, should be recognized in front of your entire organization to also encourage others to join the program with their share of voice.
9. Measure the impact
Even though employee wellbeing is not easy to measure directly, there are ways to measure your employees’ engagement with it. If you are using a modern employee communications software solution, reporting should provide insights into readership at employee or campaign level, providing assurance that everyone was reached.
Take this communication data and combine it with some other in-house data on employee absenteeism, turnover, or health claims. This approach can help you develop an overall picture of your employee wellbeing campaign effectiveness.