webinar recap: what’s new in wellness: a look at workplace health
By ana bentz
Insights | February 24, 2017
O.C. Tanner’s February Webinar, led by Christina Chau, a Senior Content Manager at O.C. Tanner, and Steven Day, Director of Wellbeing Solutions at O.C. Tanner, sat down to discuss and share the latest wellness data and how to create a culture that supports the overall health and wellbeing of employees.
Christina kicked things off by unpacking 2016’s Workplace and Health Study, NPR’s far reaching study, and the O.C. Tanner Institute’s Health and Well-being Study. The purpose was to find the impact of workplace culture on a worker’s health and allow employees to tell us how they think and feel about their current job.
44% of respondents to the study said their current job impacts all areas of their life and their overall health. Family life, eating and sleeping habits, and even weight gain and stress levels. Many said it also affects how they feel and interact with others. Steven reminded listeners to keep in mind these are self reported and employees don’t often realize how much their workplace truly impacts their lives.
Last year, 1 in 5 employees work 50+ hours per week, but less than half actually used their accrued vacation days. How many of us have even taken one? Not many employees today take their vacation on a regular basis. Even worse, respondents said they don’t take sick days either. Many said that even if they are feeling under the weather, they still show up to work! Steven recalled speaking to a client who shared that their employees, “go into work when we are sick and think, ‘oh it’s just a cold.’”
When have these bad habits become a social norm in the workplace? Steven points out that the vast majority of employees (60%) said that they hoard their vacation time for a later date, 15% said they have too much to do at work to take that time off, and 25% say that they’ll get ahead in the workplace if they don’t take time off. It all points to and comes down to company culture.
Unfortunately, workplaces often don’t address these issues. 49% of employees give their workplace fair or poor ratings in its efforts to combat their stress. And even after hearing best practices for issues like this, sometimes their response is “we are looking for what [employees] can do at home…” To make a major shift in overall wellbeing, we need to change the way we think! And not just at home.
NPR reported that 51% of organizations do offer a formal wellness program, but only 20% employees actually participate. But what exactly is a wellness program? How do we define it? Steven shared that it can range from light (health fairs, flu shots) to comprehensive (onsite clinics, health food options). But many organizations aren’t buying into the aggressive wellbeing incentives.
The more you offer, the wider audience participation you will reach. But whether or not engagement happens or improves is something you can’t compel people to do. Building these initiatives on top of a great company culture first is the key to engagement. If employees can see that their company cares about them and their wellbeing, the why, then everything can really start to take effect and engagement will soar. Otherwise, these initiatives come off as “we want to assess the risk you are.”
Employee wellbeing doesn’t just stop at the weight they’ve lost or the amount of water they’ve had that day. There are three major parts to wellbeing that contribute to great engagement: physical wellness, social wellness, and emotional wellness.
When valued as a person and not just a product of output, a sense of overall wellbeing and greatness excelled! 90% of employees beginning to feel more engaged at work, 52% achieved greater work performance, and 88% expressed a desire to stay at their company.
Strategies to start nailing down a great culture are widely different depending on the style of your company. Popular today are things like ping pong tables and onsite cafés. These are fun additions to a culture, but wellbeing isn’t going to come out of it. Open work spaces for collaboration, for example, host a greater impact for your work environment. These types of changes will help the emotional and social wellbeing pieces more than a ping pong table.
Here at O.C. Tanner, some of the things we have tried to move forward with these findings is a way to make it all personal. Everyone has different worries, health concerns, goals, etc. So what can we do to make it individually valuable? We start with access to resources that are easy to grasp and literature in the workplace. We make it social. We create health challenges and gather people with like interests together as often as possible. But, the most impactful thing we can do is show appreciation.
We have done a lot of research, obviously, on this subject. When our employees feel appreciated, they feel less stressed, they feel like they can improve, and they see the positive impact. Recognition can be very impactful on improving overall wellbeing and not expensive. A culture where they feel valued makes a huge difference in terms of overall wellbeing.
So when it comes to changing your culture, it’s simple, just don’t make it worse! Don’t do things that are going to make your employees less healthy or less happy.
Christina and Steven ended this month’s Webinar with three key takeaways:
- Employee wellbeing is low in the workplace, and there is still a long way to go.
- Make sure the programs and practices really help employees to feel valued.
- When employees feel valued and appreciated, they have a higher sense of wellbeing and feel more engaged, which builds a culture of greatness.
Listen to the full webinar recording to see more of the wellness data and learn how to incorporate wellbeing and reduce stress in your organization’s culture.