Employee wellness programs often take the back burner to other HR initiatives. In today’s column from the Wellness Value founder Michelle Strasburger, she imagines how a CEO would write a letter to her team to explain the why behind employee wellness programs. Whether you’re a CEO or an HR manager looking for buy-in for offering more wellness benefits, use this letter as inspiration to have a conversation or write a letter of your own.
Dear HR Team,
During our last company meeting, an employee asked me what keeps me up at night. I didn’t have to think too hard about it. I have to say that the well-being of my staff seems to be the most important theme and the thing that keeps me up at night. I’m looking to you and your HR team to help solve the people challenges that plague our organization.
Our employees have been working long hours with fewer people. I can see that my direct reports are online, answering emails and taking calls at all hours of the day, creating stress in their personal lives. If this happens with my direct reports, I believe this is a challenge throughout the organization. And we see this in real data — with the responses on our last employee survey and the increasing turnover rate.
It also surprised me that they’re not spending much money on their wellness program. They simply asked their employees, “What is a barrier to your wellbeing?” and have started to take simple actions to remedy that list.
Last week, I had lunch with a friend of mine, the CEO of a similar-sized company. She said that she has seen increased productivity and reduced turnover and absenteeism. Their culture is thriving, and it has never been easier to recruit. You can imagine my surprise when she told me this was the key to their success and not just giving everyone a cost of living adjustment.
She stated that their revenue has increased because employees are more engaged. Their customer service survey results have drastically improved, and customer satisfaction has increased. It also surprised me that they’re not spending much money on their wellness program. They simply asked their employees, “What is a barrier to your wellbeing?” and have started to take simple actions to remedy that list. Because they asked, employees feel heard, and their needs are being addressed.
I respect this friend immensely, but I had to do my own research to make sure it wasn’t just a coincidence. A recent study on wellness programs from Harvard Business Review found they contributed to improved productivity, higher morale, and decreased healthcare costs. At one company, according to the study, “[a]nnual health care claims are about $1,500 higher among nonparticipants in…its workplace wellness program than among participants with a high-risk health status.” HBR also reported that the same company found that moving just 10% of employees from high-/medium-risk to low-risk yielded a 6:1 ROI.
I also found this article on WELCOA, an organization with resources for wellness programs. This article talks about questions to think about when starting a wellness program, and this could be a great resource to help us get started.
I’d love to see what we can do to implement a wellness program that aligns with what our employees need and that can help improve engagement and the culture of our business. I believe, with this, I can sleep a little better at night and come into the office fresh each day.