Employees prize health and wellness, so much so they are willing to take a pay cut if it would mean having an employee wellness program at work. That’s what 41% of employees said in a Staples workplace survey. Despite employees wanting a program that supports healthy living at work, few companies have one. Only 42% of the 1,001 office workers from the United States and Canada surveyed said their companies had a program.
At a time when companies are struggling to attract and retain employees, this survey indicates how a wellness program can be a differentiator. According to the survey, most employees (78%) say that it is the employers’ responsibility to keep employees mentally and physically well, but companies may be floundering to find the most effective ways to do this.
Many companies are moving to open office arrangements, with the idea that the design provides flexibility for employees. The verdict is mixed on whether this helps employees or not, the survey says. While 78% say the open space is welcoming, 52% say the openness is distracting.
Employees also preferred personal flexibility over workspace flexibility or office design. They want to be able to set their work schedules and determine where they work. The majority of employees surveyed (64%) work remotely sometimes, but only 34% say their employers have a policy to guide working from home. This can mean the flexibility is based on individual manager’s decision and be retracted at will. Cutting back on the ability to work from home would be an unpopular move, with 90% of employees saying that more flexibility will increase employee morale and 67% saying they would consider leaving their current job if work arrangements became less flexible.
Tailored Wellness Benefits
The survey found that the top wellness features that companies offer are:
- Rewards or cash incentive for healthy behaviors
- Access to 24/7 health resources
- Gym reimbursement
- Group fitness classes in-office
- Fitness counselors/nutritionist to help employees build individual programs
Regardless of a study’s list of top wellness benefits, organizations must ensure that the wellness benefits they offer resonate with their employees’ needs.
Those needs can be discovered through surveys or formal/informal discussions. Demographics can play an important role as well. Millennials may want help with school loans while baby boomers may want help with elder care. Understanding each employee group’s needs and offering a wide array of benefits for a diverse workforce is vital.
A new wellness program doesn’t have to be complex and expensive. It can have a simple start, such as offering healthy snacks in the break room or planning lunch time walk groups. As long as these activities match the employees’ needs, the program will be on the right track.
The survey also found that employees rate companies that focus on wellness higher and have a stronger connection to them. That means those employees are more likely to stay with that company longer and be healthier while they’re there.