Corporate wellness programs are becoming a mainstream strategy for enhancing employee productivity and managing employee health and well-being. Every year, more studies show the benefits of focusing on physical and emotional well-being as a means to reduce fatigue and stress, and boost employee performance.
Also, with the talent landscape becoming more competitive, corporate wellness programs are a vital component to differentiating your organization and designing an attractive workplace culture.
With the concept of wellness programs being relatively new and dynamic, there's limited access to "off-the-shelve" solutions for sure-fire success. At the end of the day, your program will need to be tailored to what works for your business and for what your employees value.
Luckily, Deloitte, through its 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, surveyed thousands to see what well-being benefits employees valued compared to the benefits most commonly provided.
Here are the top three well-being benefits discovered in Deloitte's research, along with some of my own analysis:
1. Flexible schedules
86 percent of employees value it, but only 50 percent of employers provide it.
A flex schedule is an alternative to the typical "nine-to-five." It gives employees the choice of when to arrive and when to leave -- as long as they are still putting in the required amount of hours and not falling behind on work. Some policies also include telecommuting (which we'll get to in a second) and adjustable work weeks -- working fewer days but more hours, for example.
Flex schedules make it easier for employees to manage life. They don't feel as guilty coaching little-league, squeezing that dentist appointment in, or staying home to give the babysitter a break. As someone with a young family and a physician wife, I can definitely relate.
They also give employees the ability to build their hours around their work styles to maximize their energy and productivity.
There are downsides, however. There's the risk of someone taking advantage and watching Netflix all day, an increased probability of communications breakdowns, and the issue of employers providing a safe work environment -- hard to do when an employee is working off-site.
Although this benefit sounds a little risky, the results are hard to deny.
A study conducted by the Employment and Social Development, Canada showed that flex time reduced employee absenteeism, raised engagement, and increased productivity and innovation.
Flex time may not make sense for every organization, but its a trend that is undeniably gaining some traction.
70 percent of employees value it, but only 27 percent of employers provide it.
Telecommuting or "working from home," gives employees the ability to work remotely, save commute timed cost, and to put themselves in their most productive environments -- even if it's a Starbucks.
It's no surprise that telecommuting was number two given the desire for flex schedules. The two are degrees of one another and often go hand-in-hand.
Like flex schedules, telecommuting has been known to increase employee morale and productivity while decreasing turnover.
As organizations continue to expand and communication technology improves, telecommuting is becoming a more realistic option. The downsides are similar to flex working arrangements. There are concerns about safety and workers compensation, less of a separation between work and personal lives, and potential side-effects from working in isolation. There is also the potential negative impact this benefit could have on other team members. The burden for making a remote situation work needs to rest with the remote worker -- not with the rest of the organization.
3. A tie: Designated space for wellness and reimbursement for well-being expenses
67 percent of employees value these, while only 26 percent of employers provide them.
Let's face it, getting to the gym when you are working ten hours days is tough -- especially if you have a family at home. To increase employee's accessibility to fitness and wellness centers, many organizations are redesigning their office space to include on-site workout facilities.
However, wellness doesn't stop with physical health. In addition to gyms, many organizations are including meditation rooms, onsite health screenings, and access to mental wellness programs.
If onsite services aren't an option, the majority of respondents also indicated that they would like to be reimbursed for well-being expenses. I.e., gym memberships, diet plans, or other health clubs.
A U.S. Department of Health & Human Services report showed that employers who offered workplace wellness options decrease healthcare costs and absenteeism while increasing productivity.
If your organization is starting to test the waters, or if you're looking to breathe some new life into your wellness program, this research from Deloitte provides some great considerations.