In order to run employee wellness programs that boost employee engagement, Malcolm Knowles (2011) states that adult learners should be “given some choice and control over the learning process”… and in order for adult learner’s to make a ‘psychological investment’ in learning’, the curriculum has to relate to their interests (McDonough, 2014). Today’s interests are likely focused on keeping healthy and sane!
Too often, wellness programs spill-off from other health benefits. Or worst, hospitals aren’t offering them at all. These wellness programs fall into one of four common categories:
1. Running weight-loss challenges,
2. Reimbursed fitness memberships,
3. Annual employee reimbursement on wellness initiatives of their choice, or
4. Hospitals offer a series of wellness workshops throughout the year.
If you take note of these four areas, you’ll notice that they fit the category of “given some choice and control”. But none of these options offer much to sustainable personal development. Instead, they’re programs that focus on offering their employees simple health strategies.
Simple is great. I like simple. Strategies are great too!
But simplicity might fall short when we evaluate the needs of today’s workforce. Today, we have an added layer of complexity to health care professional’s lives – ones heavily traumatized by COVID-19. That means workplaces need more than simple strategies to help health practitioners manage the fall-out.
Following are my top 3 ways employee wellness programs can boost employee engagement, even during a pandemic.
Top 3 Ways Employee Wellness Programs Can Boost Employee Engagement
#1 Reduced Stress and Reduced Cost Of Health
Wellness programs that focus on systems save hospitals a lot of money; money otherwise spent paying for the employees’ health costs. A study found that in the US, nearly 30% of adults are obese, 18% smoke cigarettes, and 23% do not get enough exercise (Sam, 2017). All these are detrimental to the health of employees. Eventual hospitalization and expenditure on various drugs to alleviate these health conditions are an expensive venture for various businesses.
Various wellness initiatives that advocate for the correction of these conditions save companies billions. Wellness programs are major stress relievers for employees (David, 2015). Stress reduces productivity, morale, and leads to absenteeism. Motivated and available employees improve work and are generally more productive (Chris, 2017).
These same health initiatives improve memory and focus, reduce emotional reactivity, improve cognitive flexibility, and enhance self-insight. Alleviating stress from the employees is another potential avenue of saving revenue for the hospital. Mental illnesses that include stress and anxiety often times force employees to seek additional services to cope with these issues.
#2. Boost In Employee Performance
Research in other sectors has proven that employee health & wellness programs show a boost in performance in the workplace (Davide et al, 2015). A recent survey was conducted amongst 154 employees in a large US Midwest media and education company, assessing the impact of employee wellness programs, offered by insurance companies. These wellness initiatives were involuntary and were part of the insurance company’s way of saving money by ensuring the employees are healthy.
The study showed a level of motivation towards active participation in wellness programs based on fairness, accessibility, intention to switch to a healthier lifestyle, and desire to see more health-related initiatives. This study demonstrated that wellness programs could in fact boost job satisfaction, improve the final output in terms of quality and quantity (Pauline, 2016).
This brings me back to my introductory paragraph:
In order to run employee wellness programs that boost employee engagement, Malcolm Knowles (2011) states that adult learners should be “given some choice and control over the learning process”… and in order for adult learner’s to make a ‘psychological investment’ in learning’, the curriculum has to relate to their interests (McDonough, 2014).
Wellness programs lead to a healthier workforce that spends less time-off being sick. That provides resilience which boosts organizational performance.
#3. Improved Relationships And Increase Morale
By offering enrolment in a wellness and personal development program, you’re showing employees a sign of goodwill. Employees feel like they matter when they are engaged on all levels. This, in-turn, increases employee morale.
Personal relationships also improve, due to the personal development and health initiatives, because they’re attending to their own basic human needs. As I discuss in Episode 6, people can feel a little anxious or antsy about something, but they won’t know why. It’ll just happen. From there, they’ll instantly grab onto something outside of themselves to help them feel better. This can be a cup of coffee, or tea, or worst drugs/alcohol/medications that pose severe health risks and side-effects.
By helping your staff explore their needs is a great way to empower them in all areas of their lives. Also, involvement in the personal wellness initiatives, as a group, increases bonding amongst the employees. Community building boosts understanding of each person’s likes and dislikes. It also helps create boundaries amongst the employees, so none crosses the other.
This reduces instances of bullying amongst the employees as friendships develop off-site (Alexia & Michael, 2017).
If you look at some of the common causes of distresses at the workplace, such as bullying, stress, fatigue, and anxiety, they are eliminated through the wellness programs. Reduced bullying means less time is wasted. Less time wasted on conflict resolution allows employees to focus on delivering quality patient care.
Research demonstrates there is tremendous growth in global wellness initiatives (Sam, 2017). This growth might imply that both, personal growth and wellness initiatives, are beneficial to the employer’s bottom line; demonstrating greater profits and employee satisfaction.
What Successful Hospitals Do
More successful hospitals are integrating their wellness programs and personal development into their day-to-day business strategy. Their overall hospital culture has a constant message promoting employee health and wellness. When personal wellbeing becomes integrated in the hospital mandate, employees are more apt to stay loyal to an organization that appreciates, values and recognizes them.
But having a culture of wellbeing is sometimes not enough. People want to be engaged and this engagement needs to help them fulfill their personal wants and desires.
There will always be barriers that impact the employee’s engagement, and interaction, with the hospital’s internal programs instead of boosting their engagement. For this reason, Satori has made every attempt to counteract these challenges, by creating a 6-module digital coaching program that includes 1) community, and 2) added group coaching.
An Easy Solution To Counteract Challenges
Our employee personal development program, The ProMind Experience, applies 8 psychological triggers to motivate and boost employee engagement with the program, while also building a sense of community around the online program.
The ProMind Experience is also a Mission-Focused Program,”to get off the stressed-out treadmill”. By reminding employees of the program’s mission, we’re helping them to make a psychological investment into the program – thereby boosting employee engagement.
As well, in order to offers employees the right type of wellness program, and really boost employee engagement, you need to offer them “some choice and control over their learning process”. Satori’s program is a self-paced online program. Although we drip the content over 7 weeks, and run our group coaching sessions within those 7 weeks, we still encourage the learner to take responsibility for their learning.Lessons are available to watch online, on their phone, and just about anywhere on a 24/7 basis, enabling them to take control of their learning.
Instead of sitting-by and watching adults slip away from your internal programs, our “experiencified” program, The ProMind Experience, actually boosts employee engagement 10-30x more than the average online course platform. The reason for this boost in engagement is because the modules and lessons have been gamified, giving them rewards for every action taken.
Even with all this in available, workplaces are still struggling to run employee wellness programs during COVID-19 due to challenging work-life balance and systemic pressures. In reality, there is no better time than the present!
The Bottom Line & Where Do We Go Next?
Well, research on adult learning, (Knowles, 2011), indicates that adults are most likely to be engaged in learning when they are given some choice and control over their learning process. when the curriculum is individualized, au- thentic, and related to adult learners’ interests. They make a psychological investment in learning. Pride is taken not simply in learning the formal indicators of success, but in understanding the material and applying it in their lives.
Alexia, G., & Michael, K. (2017). Tackling workplace bullying: A scholarship of engagement study of workplace wellness as a system. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 450-474.
Chris, A. (2017). Mindfulness: performance, wellness or fad? Strategic HR Review, 24-31.
David, G. (2015, February 27). At Aetna, a CEO’s Management by Mantra. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/business/at-aetna-a-ceos-management-by-mantra.html
Davide, S., Hong, B., & Kathleen, G. (2015). Involuntary wellness programs: the case of a large US company. Evidence-based HRM: a Global Forum for Empirical Scholarship, 2-24.
McDonough, D (2014) (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1143328.pdf).
Pauline, D. (2016). Healthy, wealthy and wise?: Why workers join in voluntary wellness programs. Human Resource Management International Digest, 20-22.
Sam, H. (2017). The future of workplace wellness programs. Strategic HR Review, 2-6.