One of the most important aspects of a corporation and often the most overlooked is their focus and efforts on employee wellness. While in recent years, employee wellness has become more of a hot topic, most companies struggle and fall short of offering an effective employee wellness program. While there are many contributing issues, most if not all can be categorized under one main problem – Company Culture.
It is believed that the focus on employee wellness did not begin until after the Industrial Revolution when with the innovation and advancements came a host of health problems and injuries for workers. In 1810, a man named Robert Marcus Owen proposed the idea of a ten hour work day and then in 1817, he moved to the idea of an eight hour work day – following the practice of “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest”. In addition, there were books written about the negative health impacts on industrial workers in which they emphasized that most employers operated with a disregard for the working conditions of their employees.
Evenstill, employee wellness was still an afterthought until the 1950’s with the emergence of the Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) where the focus was primarily on interventions for alcoholism and mental health issues. In the mid 70’s, there was a shift in responsibility for health care from the government to the employer and so the concept of employee wellness came to the forefront as a way of keeping company costs low. It was during this time that there was also a cultural shift towards fitness.
As employee wellness programs developed over the years, they tended to be primarily around physical wellness, ignoring other aspects such as mental health. It’s a problem that continues today as the majority of companies will offer their employees health care, a set number of sick days (or in some cases, unlimited sick days), perhaps a negotiated corporate rate with a partnered gym and consider that employee wellness box to be checked off. And while it’s a start, it is not enough.
In order for companies to truly address and encourage employee wellness, they have to make it a priority. Companies can start by offering a variety of wellness benefits that meet the diverse needs of their employees. Wellness cannot be defined simply by physical wellness nor can it be achieved with a one-size-fits-all mentality. In addition, a company needs to actively encourage their employees to utilize their wellness benefits. Simply offering them is not enough. A company can offer sick days but there may be an unspoken perception of not working hard enough if you actually use those days. Managers need to keep an eye on workloads to avoid burnout amongst their team and should plan occasional breaks or out-of-the-office team events to help with bonding. Just as business goals and developmental growth are requirements for an employee, so should wellness, as it directly affects the employee’s performance and ultimately the company’s bottom line.
LEON offers employees access to a variety of wellness options ranging from workouts to mental health – all of which are currently virtual. LEON also helps managers coordinate team events with some of the largest names in fitness.