A recent survey by Virgin Pulse found that companies are increasingly investing in employee wellbeing and engagement programmes. However, the question of which initiatives to choose and how to embed them remains the challenge for many organisations.
The research, which included responses from around 600 HR professionals, found that 78% of participants said that wellbeing was key to their business strategy, with 87% investing or planning to provide or improve their employee wellbeing offering in the near future.
There was wide-spread agreement among those surveyed that wellbeing had a positive influence on employee engagement. According to the report, US employers lose more than $30bn a year due to sick days and absenteeism. This is because high levels of stress can significant affect people’s physical and mental health which can, in turn, negatively impact workplace productivity.
Virgin Pulse said companies are increasingly recognising the link between health and happiness at work. “In general, employees feel engaged when they are invested in their company’s future and culture, feel like their jobs give them a sense of purpose and have great relationships with their co-workers, “ the authors of the survey said. “Health and wellbeing – physical, mental, financial and emotional – also affect employee engagement, and the majority of organisations realise that connection.”
But while most companies are in agreement about the benefits of wellbeing, there isn’t consensus about the best way to tackle the issue. Forty-one percent of respondents said they were still defining employee engagement, and only 29% offered a solution that integrated with their overall strategy, or fitted a specific need or purpose.
The survey showed that almost half of participants said resistance to change is the main obstacle to implementing a workplace wellness and engagement programme. Virgin Pulse said the reason for this disconnect might be because of company culture. The authors recommend offering incentives to encourage employee participation.
“Before designing programs to increase employee engagement, organizations must first acknowledge that employee wellbeing, workplace culture and engagement all connect and influence each other,” the report concluded. “Positive work culture depends on committed and healthy employees. When one area is lagging, the other two will suffer.”
This article was written by Caroline Smith
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We’ve known for years that the happier and healthier your employees, the more engaged and productive they will be. But putting wellbeing initiatives into practice can be easier said than done.