It's no secret that there's a direct connection between employee wellness, productivity, and business growth. But with more employees working remotely than ever before, are employers doing enough to ensure their people are taken care of?
Now more than ever, with remote working on the rise, it is crucial for employers to implement strategies that ensure employee wellbeing is kept in check. As more and more employees still prefer a remote-working or hybrid environment, it's important to ensure that employees feel connected to their peers and managers, and supported in their personal health journeys. With remote working becoming a permanent part of employees' corporate life in numerous organizations, all employers are encouraged to adopt strategies to ensure that employee wellbeing is placed high on the priority list.
So, if you need some inspiration to get started, here are 5 strategies that we recommend to support your team wellness in today's remote work environment:
Check In Regularly
No, we don't mean your weekly sales huddle. Setting up a weekly wellness check-in for each employee goes a long way in choosing the best systems to support individual needs. After all, the best way to support employee wellness is to ask employees themselves what it is that they need.
In a remote working environment, employees often experience higher levels of stress and anxiety. Therefore, weekly 1:1 wellness check-ins can allow employees to comfortably raise their workplace concerns and allow employers to identify early signs of burnout. Leaders being open about their own struggles with mental illness also goes a long way to help employees feel more comfortable sharing.
In these conversations, we recommend identifying any patterns of hesitation and discomfort on certain topics, to ensure that you truly understand the underlying reasons behind their anxieties.
Use these meetings to open up a discussion about employee workplace goals and growth opportunities to evaluate whether they are working on too much, and to re-assess individuals' work commitments. These one-on-ones are extremely important, and can help managers provide the necessary support to their team members to create a sense of belonging, prevent stress, and deepen trust in their team members.
Emphasize Work-Life Balance
With remote working, a majority of employees end up working outside of their conventional work hours, sometimes even on weekends. Without a set physical space separating work life from personal life, it becomes easy to invest another hour in work, often leading employees to work long after their typical 9-5. As an employer, it's critical to identify these patterns of behaviour, and re-emphasize the importance of maintaining a work-life balance to avoid employee burnout. What's more, is the average employee is only productive for three hours a day. Employees who extend their working hours further are unlikely to achieve anything more than burnout and higher stress levels.
Some other strategies to encourage a work-life balance include, but are not limited to: limiting screen time; virtual team happy hours; encouraging regular breaks; and celebrating non-work related milestones to build a sense of community.
How many times in a day do you stand up to stretch out your joints? If you answered 'often', you may need to reconsider your at-home equipment. Poor ergonomic setups have been linked to several long-term health issues, including muscle strains, joint pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. When employee bodies aren't at their best, neither is productivity. Unfortunately, while many organizations have proper ergonomic equipment for employees in-office, too many have brushed aside the importance of ergonomic set ups in remote environments. Implementing proper ergonomic equipment criteria and budgets for home office workers is an excellent way to improve on your wellness strategy. Supporting employees with adjustable or sit-stand desks, chairs that support posture and hip structure, wrist support equipment, and suggestions on screen brightness goes a long way in ensuring employee wellness is encouraged throughout the work day.
Support Mental Health
There's a good reason that more employers than ever are offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) - that is, mental health concerns are on the rise. To provide employees with an outlet to share and seek help for issues relating to mental illness, an employer can offer their workforce an EAP as part of their benefits package. EAPs are confidential counselling services employees can access to work through both personal and work-related stressors. The best part? They're super affordable for any sized organization - averaging less than $5 per person.
The range of expertise included in an EAP extends beyond workplace issues, and can also help an individual with stress, substance use, relationship/marital conflict, balancing family life, child care, and legal and financial problems. EAPs are available to employees and their families and are often available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. An individual can either refer themselves, or can be confidentially referred by their employer.
Offer Online Learning
Do your employees have all the skills they need to be successful in their roles? Over the last year and a half, a number of employees have stepped in to fill roles they previously held no knowledge of. In a crisis, their initiative went a long way - but now that we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, do these employees have the skills to excel in these new positions? Offering employees a learning budget is an excellent way to reduce stress associated with job uncertainty. Employees may find themselves waiting on their leaders to teach them certain skills, or wasting too much time in unproductive meetings searching for answers. Allowing employees reimbursements for courses on LinkedIn learning, Udemy, or other online learning academies is an excellent investment in their wellness. It works to improve employee independence, reduces anxiety in stepping up to new tasks, improves work-life balance by decreasing wasted time, and demonstrates employer commitment to culture (which reaps numerous benefits on its own).
Bonus: Re-Evaluate Your Wellness Benefits with CloudAdvisors
When was the last time you made a real change to your wellness benefits? Staying up to date with market trends, the requests and needs of your employees, and wellness options available to you is your best tool in supporting employee health. You can search from hundreds of wellness products in CloudAdvisors' Solution Marketplace, and view solutions for Canada's top providers, including solutions from 12 Weeks to Wellness. The Solution Marketplace is updated every day with data from all over Canada, so you can quickly and easily ensure your employees are receiving the best benefits you can offer within your budget. Keeping your plan updated is so important in improving employee wellness and health habits. Benefits from ten years ago are not the benefits employees need today to break bad habits born from over-working, stress, and balancing remote work schedules.
So, which strategies will you start with to improve your employee's health, happiness, and productivity?
Don't miss our monthly complimentary wellness webinars: 12 Weeks To Wellness Events | Eventbrite
This is a guest post from CloudAdvisors, Canada's Employee Benefits Marketplace. Search the marketplace today to find 12 Weeks to Wellness benefit solutions, and so many more ideas to support employee wellness in a remote environment.