Three Reasons Social Health Should Be Part of Your Corporate Wellness Program
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, dissatisfaction in careers had been running rampant among Americans of all ages. 30% of working class Americans change their jobs every twelve months. A 2019 report by the U. S. Labor Bureau finds that suicides in the workplace have risen by 11% between 2017 and 2018.
This has not gone unnoticed and the market for corporate wellness, as one of companies’ responses to address this shocking trend, is expected to grow to $72 billion by 2023. Over 80% of companies now offer a wellness program, at current times predominantly delivered virtually, according to a report by The Rand Corporation.
Another reason for the rise of workplace wellness programs is that they make a difference monetarily. For every dollar large employers spend on wellness programs, they see medical costs fall about $3.27. But is it really this easy? Can any business add a nap room and offer healthier food to get the same results? Not quite.
There is a plethora of options when it comes to offering wellness programs. Dr. Ron Goetzel, founder of The Health Project, says that it all starts with a decent work environment:
You have to give people a sense of work-life balance. If you demand impossible hours or create a bland and restrictive workplace, no amount of wellness programs are going to fix the broken vibe in your office.
One way of ensuring that wellness programs positively impact the "vibe” among teams is by adding social health initiatives such as team building, volunteering, or other social activities to the mix of integrative wellness offerings. These can even be delivered virtually whilst staff is working remotely.
Here’s a look at three of the main benefits related to social health initiatives.
1) They promote loyalty between employees and the company.
The most effective social health programs connect employees with the company’s mission and build trust in team members. Interactive group activities foster communication (an important tool in early conflict resolution), unite teams around common goals, and demonstrate the human side of the leadership team. Knowing generates trust, and trust leads to loyalty.
There is overwhelming evidence that social health programs do work, but it can be confusing where to start. Why guess what the best program is to implement when you can ask? Workplace wellness companies use employee surveys to pinpoint the type of social health plan that would be most effective for the specific employee demographics of each organization. As an added perk, employees who feel like they are being “heard” by upper management feel much more compelled to participate in the created program.
However, social health programs are ineffective if anyone is left out. It is important to ensure that all generations are considered when these programs are implemented. This includes elements like how the program is delivered (online versus on-site), or what needs are met. For example, millennials seem to place more importance on emotional and social wellbeing, whereas Gen X employees consider learning, development, and mental challenges as key.
2) They increase productivity.
Gallup has routinely found in their research that women who have a best friend at work have better work performance, with engagement scores as high as 63%. Employees who feel connected at work not only work harder, but also feel able to turn to their workplace networks for support, which makes communication more efficient and leads to better problem-solving.
The best way to get employees to connect with co-workers is by creating communities of like-minded individuals within the business. Allowing employees to lead these communities makes them feel more involved and strengthens the community.
Bringing that community outside of work using special events, company outings, and team building events strengthens these bonds. Volunteering and gathering for a cause are also great ways to connect employees.
3) They benefit big and small businesses.
Social health programs can be done with any kind of budget, as long as they address a need in the organization.
The New World Symphony, a prestigious Miami Beach-based Orchestral Academy, implemented their holistic wellness program Balance@NWS with the goal of offering their employees all the resources they need to feel happy and healthy whilst keeping up with the demands of a busy lifestyle.
Inspired by the program, Yvette Loynaz, Director of Development Operations, implemented a quarterly book club where employees gather to read and discuss topics of physical, mental, and financial wellness.
Now in its second year, the Q Book Club offers a space for building community, trust, and relationships across departments and within teams. These meetings are punctuated by a monthly happy hour, which has helped grow and foster connections:
The connections made and support provided by this group have positively impacted our workplace culture in ways we could not have imagined and that are reflected in the daily interactions and efforts of our teams.
Dr. Gena Bofshever Chiropractor, a small business in Plantation, FL, uses team building activities that create “buy-in” to the mission of her company:
We incorporate daily morning huddles full of positive affirmations and goal-setting. We also keep a bell in the office where team members ring it out loud to celebrate their individual wins with the team - when one of us has a win, we all do!
Dr. Gena also attributes success to weekly team trainings and numerous cultural and social outings. Due to the work her company does in the health industry, her team collectively participates in general healthy living: eating well, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. Overall, this has created a stronger team that is connected to each other and the company.
As more workers seem to be dissatisfied with their working conditions, and with loyalty at an all-time low, companies will have to up their game when it comes to making their existing wellness programs more efficient. By offering social health initiatives, companies can increase staff loyalty, lowering retention rates and saving the high cost and time investments of hiring.
However, the program needs to ensure that nobody feels left out. Social health offerings can also increase productivity of individuals and teams. One way of doing that is through empowering employees to create communities within the organization.
If done right, businesses with both big and small wellness budgets benefit from implementing social health initiatives in the workplace.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Well Work Solutions
“We are passionately committed to improving the state of health in Corporate America.”—Franziska Alesso-Bendisch, Ph. D., MBA As a Well-Being Specialist and Sustainable Food Expert, I collaborate with executives to innovate BOTH human resources and operational solutions that drive productivity in mindful ways. BUILDING RESILIENT & HIGH-PERFORMING WORK CULTURES: Do you believe people are your company’s most important resource? My company, Well Work Solutions, is a boutique performance and well-being firm specializing in the creation of... Continue Reading
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