What Does Wellness in the Workplace Look Like in 2022?

What Does Wellness in the Workplace Look Like in 2022?

Global Wellness Day is coming up on June 11, and it’s got me thinking…what does wellness in the workplace look like in 2022? Is it offering virtual yoga classes to your employees a few times a month and encouraging walks on lunch breaks? Is it giving your employees access to healthcare that won’t break the bank? Is it providing a safe space and resources for your staff to turn to when life’s anxieties become overwhelming?

Well, it’s none of these things – because it’s all of these things. Workplace wellness isn’t a one-size-fits-all employee benefit. It’s a diversified, all-encompassing array of resources that has become an integral part of every place of employment in recent years and has taken on an even bigger role throughout the pandemic. Not only is workplace wellness more important than ever, but it’s also continuously evolving.

So, whether you’re just getting started with creating your institution’s ideal wellness program, or you’re looking for ways to enliven and promote your existing program, there’s one thing that’s perfectly clear in 2022…wellness in the workplace is a necessity!

Creating a Wellness Program

Building a wellness plan in 2022 means going beyond the typical weight loss and smoking cessation offerings. Each employee is different and has their own definition of wellness, which means employers need to construct a multidimensional approach to workplace wellness. How can that be achieved? Here are some steps that will help institutions figure out what is important to their employees.

Step one is to ask questions and get answers. Conduct surveys or focus groups to learn what employees want and need to meet their wellness needs. One model you could use to ask these questions is Gallup’s five elements of wellbeing: Career (I like what I do every day), Social (I have meaningful friendships in my life), Financial (I manage my money well), Physical (I have energy to get things done) and Community (I like where I live).

These types of questions will not only give you answers, but it will help you to gather data directly from your employees – the recipients of your future wellness program. Their input will help you determine what resources you should invest in that will meet their needs.

Step two is to get people involved. Start with management and get their buy-in. As with most things, support from the top will make your wellness program more likely to receive greater attention, promotion and utilization. Once you obtain management’s support, assemble a wellness committee made up of employees who are passionate and dedicated to promoting wellness in the workplace. Committee members will be the ones to implement, oversee and assess your wellness programs, while also serving as wellness ambassadors on behalf of all employees. Think of them as your wellness cheerleaders!

Steps one and two will help you gather all the information and resources you need to put together a wellness program. The next stages are where you make decisions regarding your budget, what programs to include to meet your employees’ needs, how to create communication plans and various rewards/incentives for employees to utilize the available resources.

Promoting Your Wellness Program

The best way to amp up participation and create a strong wellness program presence is to promote, promote, promote. Global Wellness Day is a great starting point for conversations, and therefore, promotion of your credit union’s wellness program.

If you already have a wellness program, you’ll want to evaluate the reasons your employees may not be participating in the programs you’re offering. These might include time constraints, lack of incentives, lack of support throughout the organization and privacy fears. How do you combat these obstacles? Provide rewards that show clear value, communicate often and be transparent.

Rewards with Value
If employees can see first-hand how your wellness programs will benefit them, they’ll be more likely to actively participate. And the truth is, wellness incentives can be pretty simple. Here are some examples:

  • Provide set times for them to sign up for exercise classes, meditation sessions or meetings with financial advisors
  • Offer employer contributions to health savings accounts and/or retirement accounts to reward participation
  • Establish fitness center and equipment discounts for employees
  • Provide direct access to mental health services at free or reduced pricing (such as services available through an Employee Assistance Program)
  • Create challenges and contests where employees who participate in various programs can be entered into a drawing for a prize (gift cards, PTO day, etc.)

Communicate Often
While rewards and incentives will certainly attract employees to your wellness program, consistent communication will get them to stay on board. Share success stories and testimonials of people who have participated in various wellness initiatives (without divulging personal information, of course), send out weekly tips and recipes to keep wellness top of mind and give periodic updates of your available programs so employees don’t forget about them.

Another key piece of communication is engaging your leadership and wellness committee. These individuals will do best to lead by example, so give them the opportunity to share their experiences with your staff.

Be Transparent
Employees appreciate transparency, and especially so when it comes to your wellness program. Show them that they are owners of the program and give them the opportunity to join and/or share their suggestions with the wellness committee for a direct say in plans and incentives. And the consistent communication from leadership will go a long way in being transparent about your wellness program.

Even two years ago, workplace wellness looked completely different. Many programs centered around the medical concerns when COVID-19 was extremely prevalent, with options for telehealth and social distancing via remote workplaces dominating workplace wellness and safety. Now that we’re in year two of the pandemic, a focus on mental health and financial wellness are top of mind. Here are some areas to emphasize in your wellness plan in the current environment:

  • Different needs of different generations of employees. What appeals to Baby Boomers might not resonate with Gen Z. From retirement accounts to learning opportunities, what one generation sees as important for wellness varies, so make sure your program has a lot of diversified options.
  • Remote options. Many workplaces are operating in a fully remote or hybrid model these days, so try to provide opportunities for employees to unplug and set limits for meetings so as to not induce “Zoom fatigue.”
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion. As with all your workplace programs, be sure to have inclusive wellness initiatives that meet a diverse employee population.
  • Financial wellness. Money is a huge concern for employees right now thanks to inflation and rising interest rates, just to name a few. Provide access to resources that will improve their financial security and reduce financial stress.

Global Wellness Day 2022: Be Your Compass in Life

While Global Wellness Day is celebrated each year, wellness is important all year round. The manifesto of Global Wellness Day is “Be your compass in life,” and it has seven steps. These steps include walk for an hour, drink more water, don’t use plastic bottles, eat healthy foods, do a good deed, have a family dinner with loved ones and sleep at 10:00 p.m.

The purpose of these seven simple steps is to start small with your approach to wellness and grow in your own time. Incorporate a one-hour walk (which can be broken down in increments!) into your schedule each day, then drink more water little by little and the rest will follow. By making these small efforts, you can gradually enhance your wellness routine and make a big difference in your life.

And this same idea isn’t just great for Global Wellness Day – it’s the backbone of an effective wellness program. Use this same strategy when it comes to promoting your employees’ wellness opportunities, and watch the benefits come to fruition.

It’s hard to say what a workplace wellness program should look like in 2022, but the possibilities are endless. When you boil it down, the key is to have an incredibly versatile suite of wellness resources that is thoroughly promoted within your organization. With those things in mind, you can potentially reduce costly healthcare claims; lower absenteeism and injuries; and improve employee morale and productivity, and, ultimately, retention.

May you and your employees always be well, and have a happy Global Wellness Day on June 11!

Janice Appleby is the chief human resources officer for Vizo Financial where she leads the people strategies that support the Corporate’s vision and core values. Ms. Appleby leads with relationship building strengths, and she values the opportunity to inspire and develop others, build strong relationships among teams and make a positive difference in people’s lives. She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.