How to adapt wellness packages to meet individual employee needs

With physical and mental well-being being one of the most significant public health issues in the 21st– century workplace, it’s clear tailoring wellness packages specifically to your business and the interests of your employees is crucial for growth and retention.

The one-size-fits-all approach to employee benefits is dying and some businesses are trying to counter this by offering as many wellness benefits as possible. Whilst this can provide your employees with more choice, it also risks de-valuing your offerings too.

So, how can business leaders introduce wellness offerings that both improve employee health and provide a positive ROI for the business?

Don’t make generational assumptions

Believe it or not, the kinds of benefits job seekers are after are far more traditional than employers may think. Recently there has been a craze for novel perks to attract younger, ambitious individuals to companies. These have ranged from ping-pong tables in the office and paying for dry cleaning.

Providing unique and exciting wellness packages is all well and good, but it’s important not to assume these types of offerings are the only things that will attract potential new employees – especially in the case of Millennials or Generation Z, who are just starting to make their presence known in the modern workplace.

According to Glassdoor’s review of employee benefits, the top preferred benefits and perks actually include more traditional offerings such as paid time-off, performance-related bonuses, paid sick leave and retirement plans.

Other high-value benefits for all age groups are flexible hours and remote working. The 2016 Vitality survey on Britain’s Healthiest Workplaces found these benefits lead to lower absences, greater job satisfaction and better health.

So maybe don’t start preparing the office for a new ping-pong table just yet…

It’s not just about physical fitness…

A wellness programme doesn’t just mean encouraging physical health. It’s also important to take measures to develop a holistic strategy which enables employees to deal with mental challenges, such as anxiety and stress at work.

Stress is a major cause of workplace absence, and it can lead to or exacerbate mental health concerns, as well as other medical conditions if not managed properly.

Employers can help workers deal with anxiety and stress by encouraging managers to start conversations with staff about these issues and helping them to spot the signs of employee burn-out.

Once managers are properly equipped to discuss such concerns with their teams, they will also be able to spot the signs of distress more efficiently. There are a number of ways this can be done, such as spending time with staff at all levels, and when doing so, modelling good communication behaviours, like talking about your own well-being.

Implementing mindfulness programmes, or promoting apps to help people recognise when to take breaks can also be effective ways to encourage better stress management. In a new study led by the University of Surrey, individuals who took part in a four-week online mindfulness course reported lower levels of work-related rumination, chronic fatigue and improved sleep quality.

To encourage employees to take downtime away from their desks, we’ve introduced the Express Hub to our business, providing a designated area for employees to relax and have convenient access to healthy food options on-site.

Align business values with personal needs

Developing your wellness strategy requires thorough research and a continuous review of your current packages. How popular are they? How many people are signing up to specific offerings?

A business’s incentives should reflect its values, but it’s also important they appeal to the personal needs of your staff. Tracking and monitoring results are essential to ensure your offerings continue to appeal to current and future employees.

One option is to calculate ROI by tracking annual changes in the health risk status of employees, which allows health improvements or declines to be seen and addressed if necessary.

The Great Place to Work report in 2016 highlighted the use of a Trust Index© employee survey to measure engagement, drive and trust levels. Engagement surveys can be repeated periodically and this will allow business leaders to formulate a plan of action to resolve any issues that are highlighted on a regular basis.

Ensure relevant communications platforms

Having an arsenal of benefits to offer is great for recruitment and retention, but only if employees know about them. Different individuals will have clear communication preferences, so it’s important to tailor messages correctly to each demographic.

Consider group meetings to review benefits options, as well as providing one-to-one sessions between an HR professional and employee to gain a better understanding of which offerings are best suited to their individual needs.

Older staff members may prefer a benefits booklet or other written communication, whilst younger employees are often more engaged by instant digital communication, particularly on mobile devices.

Understanding and intuition when it comes to the welfare of staff are, of course, imperative and businesses need to work out how to create wellness strategies that have a noticeable improvement in both physical and mental wellbeing.

With the right research and careful selection of specific offerings, business leaders will be able to not only attract the best talent but also retain new and current staff members for the foreseeable future.

By Emma Davidson, Area Retail Manager – City of London, Express