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Creating a Culture of Well-being: The Key to Organizational Wellness

January 24, 2024

Savvy business leaders know the most valuable asset of your company isn't the latest technology you invested in or your multi-million dollar office space.

It's your people.

Businesses that prioritize the well being of their employees experience improved productivity, higher engagement, and a boost in profits.

Ultimately, investing in organizational wellness results in a thriving work environment where employees are inspired to do their best.

The Research Behind Organizational Wellness

It's no surprise to hear there is a connection between employee well-being and performance at work. When you're tired, you struggle to focus. If you feel burnt out, you give your bare minimum.

When sickness keeps you in bed all day, you miss the chance to collaborate with your team or finish the project you've been working on. Your productivity is directly tied to how you feel.

Research has proven that when the health of an organization's employees is prioritized, productivity improves. Wellness programs that encourage healthy behavior can lead to:


Increased Employee Engagement

Organizational wellness contributes to what one health benefits specialist has dubbed the "Employee Positivity Factor." Employees who come to work feeling their best tend to have more positive interactions with their customers and co-workers. In turn, more sales are made and workers experience a more positive environment.

A 2019 Gallup study found that employees who experienced high well-being in year one typically had higher engagement at work in year two.

When a business prioritizes employee wellness, employees are better equipped to manage stress, maintain a high level of performance, and collaborate with various teams throughout the organization.


Better Hiring + Employee Retention

Attracting and retaining top talent can be a challenge at times. 87% of people consider health and wellness packages when they're deciding where to work.

45% of employees would be more likely to stay at their jobs if it included an employee wellness program. People want to know that their company's leadership cares about their well-being.


Decreased Healthcare Costs

Investing in a wellness program can actually save you money. A meta-analysis on workplace disease prevention found that a company's medical costs fall by $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs.

Another study found that for every dollar that was invested into a rehabilitation and exercise training program, organizations saw a $6 return in healthcare savings.

Effective organizational wellness programs have also been shown to result in a 32% reduction in worker's compensation and disability claims.


Decreased Absenteeism and Associated Costs

For every dollar spent on wellness programs, absenteeism in the workplace costs decreased by about $2.73. In addition, they may result in up to a 27% reduction in absenteeism.


A Boost in Your Company's Bottom Line

Research conducted in 2016 looked at the performance of companies that have strong workplace wellness practices. Over a 6-year simulation period, their stock values increased by 235%, compared to the 159% appreciation of the S&P 500 Index.

Another study looked at the performance of companies that have earned the Koop Award, which is given to organizations for outstanding workplace wellness programs. Between 2000-2014, businesses that won the Koop Award saw their stock appreciate by 325%, compared to the market average of 105%.


Strategies for Successful Wellness Initiatives

Despite all of the research demonstrating the benefits of a strong workplace wellness program, only 40% of employers prioritize a wellness initiative, and only 25% use it to attract talent.

If you're ready to be one of the leading organizations that support employee wellness, here are a few suggestions to create and implement an effective program.


Address All Aspects of Employee Wellness

A person's well-being encompasses much more than their frequency of physical activity. Holistic organizational wellness is a comprehensive approach to promoting all aspects of employee well being.


Physical Health

Physical health is often the highest priority of a wellness program because it can impact all other factors involved in a person's wellbeing, although it shouldn't be the only focus. Physical fitness includes muscular strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, nutrition, hydration, and immune system function.

Companies may promote physical well-being through wellness challenges, healthy eating options, health screenings, and ergonomic workspaces.

Mental and Emotional Health

Emotional and mental health includes mental support, stress management, and emotional well-being.

Organizations can support this area of well-being by encouraging open communication that reduces the stigma around mental health and by creating employee assistance programs that provide resources and support to individuals.


Social Health

Within the workplace, social well-being is promoted by encouraging a positive company culture.

Every employee should feel like they are a valued member of their team and have the opportunity to participate in team-building activities and social events.


RELATED: Why Having a Strong Company Culture is a Competitive Advantage in Today’s Environment


Financial Health

In a study conducted by MetLife, 86% of employees shared that finances were a source of stress for them both in the present and future. Employees should feel confident and knowledgeable in managing their money and preparing for life after retirement.

Companies must acknowledge the connection between financial health and well-being. By offering financial education opportunities and benefits that provide stability to employees, organizations can support financial health.


Encourage Top-Down Participation

Participating in wellness initiatives should be a priority for all employees. Having engaged leaders benefits workers as well as the leaders themselves.

Many employees expect those in leadership to model the behavior expected of them; this is part of a strong company culture. If management has too much work to engage with the wellness program, other workers may also dismiss the services offered by the program.

In addition, people in leadership are often under a high level of stress. Leaders typically experience more burnout than the teams they manage. The solutions offered by a wellness program, such as activity challenges and resilience workshops, can mitigate some of the physical and mental symptoms associated with stress.


Tailor Programs to Fit Company Culture

Your wellness program should be designed to enhance the life your employees currently live, not ask them to design a new one. In creating your wellness program, think about:

  • What types of wellness challenges might benefit your employees?
  • What worked and failed in the past?
  • What communication formats will keep employees engaged?
  • What outside services will most benefit our workers?
  • How will we advocate for the mental health of our employees?

Make it your mission to consider the future of your organization. How can you tie your wellness program in with the company culture you envision in 5 or 10 years?

For example, if you want to promote a work-life balance and brand yourself as a family-first business, you might offer health challenges that involve your employees and their families.


Be Flexible and Inclusive

A diverse workforce is accompanied by diverse needs. You can ensure flexibility and inclusivity in your wellness initiatives by striving for accessibility in all areas, including language accessibility and accessible facilities. Take into account the different cultural beliefs of your employees.

Create challenges that appeal to employees at different levels of physical fitness, or utilize a platform that allows for activity conversion, so all movement can count. Instead of asking employees to compete with one another, you may design challenges that ask them to compete with themselves, resulting in a sense of accomplishment when they achieve a new personal best.


Collaborate with Wellness Professionals

Wellness professionals have the resources and tools to support different aspects of employee well-being. Collaborating with different wellness champions opens up a world of possibilities.

  • Fitness trainers can lead exercise classes or design tailored exercise programs for your employees.
  • Nutritionists can offer guidance on healthy eating habits and host workshops that promote a balanced diet.
  • Yoga instructors can provide sessions to promote relaxation and stress reduction, ultimately helping employees build their resilience.
  • Ergonomics specialists can evaluate the office environment and suggest changes that would improve the comfort of on-site employees.
  • Financial coaches can provide workshops on budgeting and financial planning.

Your budget or schedule may not allow you to bring professionals in to provide their services on a full or part-time basis. If that's the case, consider other ways you can ask them to support your employees.

Schedule a wellness workshop where a team of providers can set up a booth to attract potential clients, or collect their business information and distribute a wellness one-pager with a comprehensive list of resources.


Offer Incentives and Recognition

Incentives and recognition associated with your organizational wellness program can encourage otherwise reluctant employees to participate.

Common incentives include prizes (like wellness gear or a cash bonus), insurance premium discounts, gym memberships, and company contributions to flexible health savings accounts.

Recognition is another great way to motivate employees to get and stay involved in wellness programs. In fact, people who feel like recognition is an important part of their company culture are nearly 4 times more likely to agree that they feel connected to their employer.

In theory, it can sound silly to celebrate someone for participating in a step challenge. In reality, this type of recognition helps establish a company culture that values employee well-being and embeds employee recognition in the day-to-day customs of your workplace.

Using Terryberry's employee wellness program, participants can track their progress and see results on a company-wide leaderboard.


7 Ways to Address Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

Mental health struggles can take a toll on your employees and your business. In 2010, it was estimated that depression cost employers $105.25 billion.

Researchers have examined the qualities and practices of psychologically safe workplaces that have been recognized for the way they support their employees' mental well-being.

Organizations earn this recognition based on various criteria. By implementing some of them within your company, you're well on your way to providing stronger mental health support and overall healthier organizational wellness.

  1. Establish a positive company culture that supports the mental well-being and resilience of your employees.
  2. Provide benefits that ensure access to affordable services like therapy.
  3. Address issues in the workplace that contribute to stress and look for solutions to reduce stressors.
  4. Implement policies that ensure everyone feels safe in the workplace, such as programs to prevent bullying or harassment and efforts to promote inclusion within each team.
  5. Make it a mission to create a healthy work environment. Allow employees opportunities to recharge and build infrastructure that emphasizes the importance of healthy behaviors.
  6. Train leadership and managers on how to provide appropriate assistance to employees. Offer crisis management training and encourage supportive supervision techniques.
  7. Use technology and creative communication to ensure everyone can participate in wellness programs.

Creating a company culture that prioritizes mental health isn't accomplished by one person or even one department. It requires buy-in from leadership at all levels of the organization.

While it can seem daunting when you consider the time and effort it takes to begin implementing these practices, the result is a healthy work culture, happier employees, and increased productivity.


Now is the Time to Focus on Employee Well-being

Whether you're looking to implement a wellness program for the first time or replace your current offering, now is the time to ensure organizational wellness remains a top priority throughout 2024.

Terryberry's employee wellness programs make it easy to create, run, and track your own customized challenges and reward system.

Schedule a demo to learn more.