As the COVID-19 vaccination program progresses, many companies are looking to implement a hybrid work model, offering their staff some flexibility between working from home and the office. Corporate wellness programs need to adjust to this new reality.
The experience of working from home has produced several advantages for many office workers, including less commute stress, a better work-life balance, location independence, and money savings.
At the same time, the increased number of Zoom meetings and webinars that come with working from home has created a certain level of fatigue for employees who are missing face-to-face interaction. A more clearly structured day and a clear separation between private and professional life are advantages that the office environment can offer. Combining the advantages of both setups by implementing a hybrid work model is therefore emerging as the preferred option for many companies and employees. When designed correctly, a hybrid work model can deliver the structure, independence, flexibility, and sociability that a thriving employee culture needs.
However, employees will also expect that the corporate wellness program they signed up for will offer at least the same level of wellbeing as it did before the pandemic,regardless of where they work. The pandemic has after all tested the population’s mental and physical health, making employee wellness programs more important than ever. There is strong evidence showing how stress can weaken the immune system and how sedentary lifestyles contribute to a slew of health issues.
A recent survey conducted by Gympass found that over the past year, younger employees (18-24 years of age) turned to therapy to take care of their mental health, while older employees (55-64 years of age) turned to physical activity. When it comes to identifying the impact of physical activity on their mental wellbeing, survey respondents 65 and older said physical exercise gives them more energy. By comparison, respondents 18-39 years old reported that physical activity makes them more productive.
When asked how they felt returning to the workplace will affect their mental wellbeing, respondents 25-44 years old said it would have a positive impact on their mental health. This group also showed the most excitement for returning to in-person fitness, clearly illustrating the importance that in-person interactions (both in the office and at the gym) have on mental health.
Lockton, the world’s largest privately-held insurance brokerage firm, has partnered with Gympass to share insights on how organizations can implement corporate wellbeing solutions to support employee health and wellbeing as companies transition to a hybrid work model.
A good employee wellness program cannot only help employees stay healthy and happy, but also improve their levels of engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. Moreover, when employers support their employees to improve their health, they are sending a clear message: Their employers care for them on a human level. However, to be successful, the wellness offering needs to reflect the same sense of flexibility as the hybrid work model. A corporate membership to a fitness club near the office may not be an option on days someone is working from home — let alone for employees permanently working remotely. While some employees may enjoy online workout classes, others may be more motivated to attend an in-person training session. To make sure the corporate wellness program is state of the art, HR managers should review, test, and revise if necessary to make sure it is fit for desired goals.
Eight Recommendations for a Successful Wellbeing Program in the Hybrid Work Model:
- Determine what employees want and need.
- Conduct health assessments and surveys to gauge employee interests and identify common risks and goals.
- Establish clear goals with your leadership team (e.g., reduce absenteeism, increase employee retention)then set up a reporting process to track progress.
- Address the risks and goals with specific programs aligned to your business
- Showcase buy-in from the leadership team.
- Leverage value-added services from your insurer and set additional budget for wellness, including tools and resources, promotional materials, and new services.
- Feed back to your leadership the enthusiasm and support you measure at all levels of your organization.
- Promote your program and consider rewards and incentives to keep engagement rates high.
Multioption wellness solutions are emerging as the best way to address the hybrid work model. They provide an “all-in-one” option for employers, enabling HR teams to manage the program more efficiently.