As more employers start investing in wellness benefits and initiatives, it’s important to understand their objectives.
It’s no secret employees need help with managing their stress. SHRM’s annual benefits survey found more employers are offering wellness programs, while a MediKeeper survey found the stress levels of employees with access to an employer-provided wellness program decreased over the 3 years of the study. Not all wellness programs offer some of the more popular stress-reduction programs like mindfulness or yoga, focusing more on physical fitness and lifestyle improvement. If that’s the objective of your wellness you may be overlooking a lot of people.
Let’s take a look at what types of employees your wellness benefits may be leaving behind and how you can make a positive impact on overall employee well-being:
The working parent
Finding a balance between raising children and a full-time job is incredibly difficult. In fact, a November 2015 survey from Pew Research Center found 4 in 10 full-time working moms always feel rushed.
Employers need to cater to working parents more, but trends suggest that benefits for parents are still far from common. According to research from The Outline, only 17 of the Fortune 100 companies offer some form of on-site child care. But because of the size and success of the Fortune 100 companies, this is likely much higher than the industry standard. And, in fact, SHRM’s benefits survey found under 7% offer any kind of on-site or near-site child care facility.
Childcare is one of the biggest stressors for most parents, but they’re hardly being helped. If you’re not helping them, your overall employee well-being is suffering.
Consider offering benefits like on-site childcare. For example, Campbell Soup provides a family center, where children attend educational programs during the workday. Even smaller companies are striving to help their working moms and dads. gDiapers encourages employees to bring their children to the office if they can’t arrange childcare services. They also provide telecommute options, which allow parents to manage their workload while at home with their kids. W.S. Badger, an organic skin-care company in Gilsum, New Hampshire, allows employees to bring their babies to work.
Coverage for mental health services is still hard to come by, but with the advent of tele-medicine, there is a lot of potential for improvement. In fact, an April 2017 survey from The National Business Group on Health found that 56% of employers plan to offer telehealth for behavioral health services as a covered benefit.
However, the stigma that surrounds mental health may still prevent employees from seeking help, which is why you should promote employee assistance program (EAP) services like counseling, to your staff. To help break down this stigma, start hosting awareness campaigns that aim to educate employees on common mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This will allow employees to feel comfortable enough to speak up and seek the help they need.
More people are beginning to feel comfortable discussing their mental health. For example, a few months ago, an Olark Live Chat employee named Madalyn Parker sent an email to her team to tell them she had to focus on her mental health and would miss a few days of work. CEO Ben Congleton’s response went viral because he expressed his appreciation for her honesty. He later followed that up with a Medium post, publicly celebrating his employee’s forthrightness and starting a dialogue about mental health awareness in the workplace. In his post, he compares an athlete’s physical injury to an employee’s mental health issue — both need to be addressed in the same way. When it comes to employee well-being, you should help your staff focus on both their physical and mental health.
Commutes can be highly stressful, especially for those who need to drive. As an October 2015 study published in Transportation Research found, driving is the most stressful mode of commuting, compared to walking and public transportation.
Fortunately, you can make this easier on employees. While transportation benefits aren’t as commonly offered as wellness benefits, it’s still a topic that needs to be addressed. The SHRM survey found 13% of organizations provide a public transit subsidy, while 4% subsidize carpooling; 4% provide a free commuter shuttle service.
Outside of commuter benefits, consider telecommuting options. This can have a big impact on productivity. An August 2015 survey from FlexJobs found that 68% of respondents say working at home has reduced the stress they felt when commuting, citing this reduction of stress as a top reason for being more productive.
If telecommuting isn’t an option, adopt less strict policies on tardiness, or consider setting core hours that require your employees to be in the office for a few hours each day. Then, they can work remotely to complete their workload.
By helping commuters worry less about the cost of their commute or the rush hour traffic, you’re improving employee well-being. They won’t feel stressed about the high price of city parking or transit expenses, and their hurried drive to the office won’t be as stressful.
Employee well-being deserves more than a one-size-fits-all approach. By finding benefits and policies that tailor to every employee’s unique needs, you’re sending a strong message — everyone matters, regardless of their circumstances.