Guest Post: How to Ensure Employee Wellness in Your Startup

Employee Wellness
Image Credit: Unsplash

The annual cost of employee sickness and injury in the U.S. has reached as high as $225.8 billion — that’s $1,685 per employee. And with depression causing employees to lose an average of 27 workdays per year, it’s clear how crucial it is to promote overall wellness in the workplace.

Indeed, employee wellness is essential to business and organizational success. It impacts a company’s culture, resources, productivity, and ultimately, its bottom line. So, how employees are feeling physically and mentally is more than an HR issue. It is, in fact, a fundamental foundation for business growth, stability, strength, and sustainability.

If you still don’t have an employee wellness program, you should consider introducing one. Even the Harvard Medical School attests to how effective employee wellness programs are. And it’s certainly possible to have one without going over budget. With so much at stake in terms of increased productivity and reduced absenteeism, you can’t afford not to.

Listen to your Employees

Although it’s common to quickly think of on-site gyms or fancy catering services when considering employee wellness programs, Pain Free Working highlights the first important step you need to take: listen to your employees. Different surveys have found that it’s not the fancy perks that keep employees happy. Of course, these can certainly attract new hires, but what keeps employees happy in the long run tend to be a little less complicated: better lighting and air quality, the freedom to personalize their workspaces, and attention to mental wellbeing. Starting with listening helps you understand their current mindset, obstacles, beliefs, and provides an excellent foundation and direction for everyone’s wellness.

Define your Metrics of Success

Monitoring numbers of sick leaves in proportion to productivity rates may be the standard way to measure success, but that’s usually not enough. Include monitoring participation rates in the various activities of the program you’re planning. Add conducting anonymous surveys that will measure employee satisfaction. You may also want to make your program meaningful by, say, donating to a charity for every specific number of steps the company takes as a whole.

Communicate Your Plan

It’s important to think about how you’ll motivate and communicate your wellness plan to your employees. Providing discounts to nearby gyms for fitness memberships is a good start. But your program will be more effective and have a stronger impact if you combine education, accountability, and community, with physical activity.

Consider bringing in health and fitness experts who can give workshops on nutrition, exercising, sleep, and other wellness topics. You can also hire a consultant and have a private social media group for accountability and community.

Make the Program Accessible

The level of difficulty in participating should be straightforward and easy. Make sure the program is accessible for everyone. Creating different levels for both beginners and savvy fitness enthusiasts is a good way to make more employees involved and engaged.

Cultivate a Culture of Wellness

A wellness program isn’t just an email cascade informing employees that smoking is harmful, and that they should exercise. It should be a culture. Rajat Bhargava previously highlighted the different roles of a founder. And in the role of the cultural leader, the founder sets the cultural tone for the organization. The employees of a company will do as the founder does, so it’s important to set a unified tone from the top down.

Make a commitment to integrate the wellness factor into every act and decision the company makes — from the backing of the leaders, down to the smallest ways of making the working environment healthier. Start by looking at your vending machine and cafeteria options, or swapping the office snack bowl with healthier alternatives such as nuts and fruits. WebMD has more tips for health improvement in the workplace that you can start with.

Introducing a wellness program for your organization doesn’t have to be complicated. Just start small and keep improving as you go along. Health is indeed wealth, for both employee and company.

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