What Companies Are Doing to Champion Employee Wellness

The mental health of employees has always been a top priority for many corporate companies. For many organizations, it is ensured by human resources management that employees have ample resources to ensure the well-being of individual workers. In the previous blog, it was discussed that companies who invest in wellness programs in the workplace can see a wide range of benefits, which include boosted productivity and higher return on investments.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released a document titled “Navigating The New Normal” which advises business leaders on how to provide a workplace environment that ensures the well-being of employees during COVID-19. In this document, CAMH provides a guideline for corporate companies to follow to ensure that the wellness of employees are prioritized during these unprecedented times. 

The CAMH document also lists examples of companies that are introducing new strategies to champion employee wellness. In this blog, we will explore four initiatives that companies are doing to prioritize the mental health of employees in the wake of COVID-19.

1) Additional Day Off For Employees

Back in March, the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to transition into online work all around North America. This sudden change was overwhelming for many employees, particularly those who may have had to make lifestyle changes in order to accommodate for this new normal. For instance, employees who had children that had to go to school now had to make time out of their days to ensure that their children are still engaged in their e-learning sessions. 

To make this sudden change easier for employees, Cisco introduced a new initiative back in May called “Me Day”. This day was designed for employees to take a day off in order to recharge from the overwhelming changes both from work and from their own personal lives. Similarly, Scotiabank added an additional paid leave day for employees who may need it in the event of needing medical care, childcare or eldercare. These initiatives by Cisco and Scotiabank are important in ensuring that employees are able to adjust and rest as needed with the drastic change in everything around them.

2) Daily Check-ins with Employees

The daily routine of work made an abrupt stop and completely transitioned into becoming fully virtual for many Canadians. As a result, the day to day interactions that employees would typically have with other coworkers have also shifted to being online. This change has had a negative impact for some workers, due to the fact that they feel more isolated from others. Randstad released an article which stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a bigger strain on the collective mental health for Canadians, and one of the best ways to alleviate this is to ensure employees can connect with one another in the workplace. 

For Google, the company launched an online training session designed to make employees and managers more mindful of how their fellow coworkers are feeling. Google employees were trained to provide check-ins with other employees, and detect signs if an employee needs to be reminded of wellness resources. Ernst & Young is also practicing the same method, by ensuring that management is doing more frequent check-ins towards employees to connect with them during these trying times. 

3) Online Wellness Seminars For Employees

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are looking for ways to add and bring more value to their corporate wellness initiatives. Solutions such as virtual group webinars, can help foster social connections. Access to health professionals such as Naturopathic Doctors and Personal Trainers can help drive strategies for a prevention based wellbeing approach. Well Street is grounded in preventative wellness and we have been assisting corporate companies with wellness practices for over 7 years. Aviva, one of our clients has provided over 3 years of training for their employees to create a healthy workplace that values the importance of mental well-being. 

“We have continued our partnership with Well Street virtually due to the global pandemic. We have hosted monthly virtual seminars including “Teleworking in 2020”, “Creating Balance” and “Mindfulness” for our employees across Canada,” said Mary-Alison Pejskar, the Corporate Responsibility Consultant at Aviva. 

“With positive feedback and glowing reviews from our employees, we know we are getting a lot out of the sessions. Often our employees request to share the Well Street presentations with extended family and friends because they find it so valuable.”

4) Enhanced Open Communication and Feedback With Employees

During these unprecedented times, many companies have had to learn simultaneously while they created new initiatives that were intended to help the well-being of employees. The outcome for these initiatives are still uncertain for some companies, but others have made sure to create an environment that allows open communication to see how effective these initiatives are.

The Bank of Montreal (BMO) sent out surveys and hosted Q&A sessions to all employees within the bank. These forms of communication were designed to shape the next actions the bank should take to ensure the wellness of its employees. Mckinsey & Company followed the same approach by conducting town halls and surveys to understand the needs of their employees during these stressful times. The goal for both of these companies is to understand the needs of their own employees, and use the feedback they have gathered through surveys to implement new initiatives. 

How Well Street Can Help

At Well Street, we are founded on the principles of introducing healthy practices to the workplace, which encompasses both mental and physical health. Comprised of medical professionals who have a background in naturopathy, we aim to help organizations foster a healthy corporate environment in order to boost productivity and morale.

During these unprecedented times, investing in wellness programs is more important than ever to ensure that employees stay connected and motivated at work. We can assist your company and your employees by providing our expertise to introduce healthy practices that would protect and enhance the well-being of all employees.

If you would like to learn more about how our team can help your company, consider contacting us to find out more. We are happy to provide you with guidelines and approaches to support the wellbeing of your team members through virtual seminars.

The Benefits of Wellness Programs In The Workplace

For millions of Canadians, going to work is an integral part of life. Whether it is part-time or full-time, the hours spent at work by Canadians take up quite a significant amount of time each week. According to Statistics Canada, the average amount of hours spent by part-time and full-time employees at work comes to about 37 hours per week. To put that into perspective, there are 168 hours in a week, and adults spend almost one fifth of their week being at work.

With the amount of time that individuals spend at work, it is important to consider that this can take a toll on the well-being of employees. Over one in four Canadians reported in a Statistics Canada survey that they feel highly stressed in their lives, with work being the primary reason.

To make matters worse, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians are feeling more stressed than usual according to a recent study conducted by Nanos for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. One of the key takeaways from this study found that more than three in four Canadians have never looked online to find information about mental health. In addition, Canadians who did find information on health and wellness, considered these findings to be extremely helpful.

This then brings us to the focal point of this blog, which is the importance of incorporating wellness programs in the workplace. To piece all the information above, individuals spend a significant amount of time at work, which is one of the main stressors that impacts their well-being. However, just as the study above suggested, not everyone is aware of the resources available to them to consult help. With this information in mind, this emphasizes the importance of employers to offer wellness programs in the workplace.

Offering this type of service would be mutually beneficial for both employers and employees. Here are four reasons why wellness programs are essential for every workplace.

1) Boost Employee Productivity

While stress for many individuals may stem from work, it is not just the only outlet where stress is present. For some, stress can come from other factors outside of the workplace, and this can affect the productivity of employees. In an article published by Harvard Medical School, it found that stress can take a toll on an individual’s health and career, and thus affects their productivity at work. On top of this, many employees who have mental illnesses are often reluctant to speak up about it as they sometimes feel like it would affect their jobs as suggested by the Harvard study.

By having a wellness program, it can help support the well-being of employees, which would then promote productivity in the workplace. In a report published by Sun Life Financial, employees who have access to wellness programs in the workplace have been more productive and more engaged in the workplace. If employees are in a workplace where their employer provides them with the support they need, then employees are certainly more inclined to put their best work forward.

2) Improve ROI For Companies

Mental illness is costly, and this applies for both companies and the entire economy. According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion CAD annually in Canada. It is estimated that depression and anxiety costs the global economy $1 trillion USD annually in lost productivity according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These are alarming statistics, and this cost is also derived from the workplace where companies lose money from failing to invest in wellness programs to ensure the well-being of employees.

Companies who implement wellness programs actually receive a higher return on investment (ROI) compared to companies who do not. In a report by Deloitte, companies who had a mental wellness program in place for one year experienced a $1.62 CAD ROI annually for every dollar invested in the program. Plus, companies who have had these programs for over three years received a median annual ROI of $2.18 CAD per dollar. It is clear that investing in wellness programs in the workplace is crucial in improving the bottom line for companies, but most importantly, it protects and enhances the mental health of employees.

3) Become a More Desirable Workplace

Employees, whether they are former, future or current are most likely going to speak about their experiences in a given workplace. Often, employees will only speak about their experiences if they have been positive or negative, and websites like Glassdoor and Indeed offer employees a platform to rate their experiences with a company. In the context of wellness programs, employees who feel that they are mentally supported in the workplace are more likely to speak about their experiences in a positive way. It is common to see the primary complaints of workplaces to be too stressful, but companies who offer ways to mitigate stress through wellness programs would likely have employees who would praise these incentives.

In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only half of workplaces offer a wellness program. In the perspective of Human Resources, one way to promote the desirability of a company would be to mention a wellness program if it is available, as multiple studies have reiterated the importance of having them in the workplace to support employees.

4) Improve Overall Health of Employees

Earlier in this blog, it was mentioned that many individuals do not know where to find resources to support their mental health. While companies have made a significant impact in improving the well-being of employees through wellness programs in the workplace, this improvement goes beyond the workplace. Some employees who have used these wellness programs are finding that it helps them even outside of the workplace to improve their overall health.

In a study conducted by Aflac, 61 percent of employees have made healthier lifestyle choices as a result of their company’s wellness programs. Along with this finding, employees also reported higher levels of job satisfaction, which also supports the previous point of employees praising their company for the resources they have available.

How Well Street Can Help

At Well Street, we are founded on the principles of introducing healthy practices to the workplace, which encompasses both mental and physical health. Comprised of medical professionals who have a background in naturopathy, we aim to help organizations foster a healthy corporate environment in order to boost productivity and morale.

We understand that not all companies have the resources available to provide a wellness program to employees. We can assist your company and your employees by providing our expertise to introduce healthy practices that would protect and enhance the well-being of all employees.

If you would like to learn more about how our team can help your company, consider contacting us to find out more. We are happy to provide you with guidelines and approaches to support the wellbeing of your team members through virtual seminars.

Jump on the workplace wellness bandwagon

Another article highlighting the advantages of workplace wellness programs in the Great Falls Tribune. This one comes as a bit of a commentary on the recent debate around Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, and how it may have become a convenient way to distract ourselves from actually taking steps towards better health.  “Reuters reported in April that obesity surpassed smoking when it comes to health care costs. The annual price tag of chronic diseases caused by our overeating and inactivity is $190 billion a year.”
A great quote from the article comes from the VP, director of HR, at D.A. Davidson, who launched their workplace wellness program in 2003:

“The reality is that with a healthier work force, you’ll have better attitudes, higher morale, less absences and more productivity, which are key components to a very competitive market”

A great success story highlighted in this article is from an employee at Davidson, Kristy LeMay, who lost 70 pounds thanks to the company’s wellness programs.
The morale of the story: we don’t need a government mandate to get healthy, the return on investment for wellness programs at work speaks for itself.
Read the whole article in the Great Falls Tribune here