The line between our work and personal lives is blurring. In fact, as Lisa Sterling, chief people officer at Ceridian, wrote last year, the concept of “work-life balance” is outdated. “Today, we live in a world where work and life blur together, no matter how hard you try to separate them. We as individuals strive for successful work-life blending, while many organizations still struggle to grasp the importance of making the blending of work and life a priority for their employees. Allowing people to be the best version of themselves at home helps them to be extraordinary at work.”
Helping people be the best version of themselves means supporting their well-being, physically and emotionally. Experts say there’s a shift happening where leaders are starting to see each employee as a “whole person” – meaning, says Stacey Engle, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Fierce, Inc., “that the person who shows up in your office or workplace every day is the exact same person who goes home every day, or goes and works in the community, goes to pick up their kids.” Looking at that whole person ultimately will help them perform from their whole self – impacting not only their own well-being but the well-being of the company.
Having the Important Conversations
It starts with the leaders, says Sarah Romotsky, head of health communications for Headspace. “A 2012 study found that mindful leadership … was associated with improved employee job performance, reduced employee exhaustion, and increased employee overall well-being and engagement.” Providing leaders with training in skills such as mindfulness and meditation can have a trickle-down effect throughout the organization.
In fact, Headspace expanded its business into the B2B market because companies reached out to the company to ask about offering its meditation and mindfulness app to their employees. Headspace now provides meditation products for companies to offer as part of their employee benefits packages. Romotsky says the Headspace B2B team works with companies including Google, LinkedIn, GE and Unilever
It’s also key to train them to have conversations with their employees around topics such as mental wellness and stress, says Engle. “Ultimately, mental health can be very difficult to talk about,” but “this ability to connect at a deep level with your employees and facilitate conversations so your employees are able and willing to talk about their mental state … it’s completely invaluable.”
The ROI of Employee Wellness
It may be invaluable, but organizations can actually measure the value of employee wellness, says Don Doster, CEO of GoPivot Solutions. Formed from the merger of gBehavior and RivalHealth last year, GoPivot Solutions recently launched its rebranded points-based rewards platform for safety, wellness and health care cost containment programs. Doster says his company, gBehavior, expanded from safety to offer health and wellness incentive programs as well in 2009 after a suggestion from a customer. The return on wellness programs is especially great for self-insured businesses, which see savings in such items as prescriptions and other medical costs. Romotsky adds that absenteeism and employee turnover are also indicators of wellness program effectiveness.
“Softer” metrics can also indicate the wellness of a workforce. “Mental health absolutely affects employee engagement,” Engle says, “and when you look at your employee engagement results, whether your employees are engaged or whether they have strong relationships with their own work – those questions in your employee engagement surveys are absolutely indicators of … healthy mental states.”
“Winning cultures have robust wellness programs,” says Doster. Rewarding employees for taking steps to improve their physical and mental well-being “sends a message to your employees that you care about them” and creates a more positive and effective workplace culture. As the costs of health care – both as a result of illness and as a result of rising stress – increase, the C-suite is taking notice and looking to develop wellness programs.
What is your company doing to invest in the health and well-being of your employees – and your organization?