There is a broad consensus on the importance of workplace well-being and how well-being at work influences work environments, employee motivation and productivity in organizations.
Several studies highlight the close relationship between working conditions and job satisfaction to the point that it has become a premise for the success of any team and a fundamental aspect of strategic HR management.
There is no single, comprehensive definition of the concept of well-being at work. An employee well-being strategy addresses health issues, work environment, benefits, flexibility, office design, etc. The main objective is to improve the employees’ experience—as individuals and as a whole—by having a positive impact on work motivation, talent attraction and retention, attendance, job satisfaction and productivity.
Although the concept is critical, it is also always changing. It can mean different things or have diverse applications based on a company’s industry or where its offices are located, among other variables. The important thing is that your organization implements an employee well-being strategy that best suits its reality and is relevant to your employees.
Workplace well-being: a continually evolving concept is reinvented
For more than a decade, to a greater or lesser extent, companies have been carrying out different actions aimed at improving the quality of work life and employee motivation.
According to experts, implementing a well-being program is not complex; it does not necessarily require a huge investment;and it can result in highly positive effects for businesses.
Today’s workforce is increasingly digital, diverse, global and efficient. Companies’ needs and expectations are also constantly evolving: new profiles, tools, technology and business models are emerging all the time, which requires organizations to make an ongoing effort to stay up-to-date and attractive as employers.
How can companies adapt to changing times?
In the work environment, well-being programs represent an opportunity. They function as a competitive differential to attract and retain talent. They are also an effective tool for driving motivation in the workplace. It is increasingly common to hear about health promotion and disease prevention programs in the workplace; financial support for employees who go to the gym or stop smoking; on-site activities like meditation, yoga and ping pong; or bowls of fresh fruit for employees. Companies are striving to offer increasingly attractive and original benefits, for example, insurer Aetna pays employees to get a good night’s sleep!
Today, those companies that already have an employee well-being program in place are at a critical point: they have an idea for a successful strategy, but how can they tell if it’s executed successfully?
Often, organizations focus on measuring the participation rate in initiatives, which is a good way to measure adoption, but transforming it into a core value of the company takes it a giant step further. The aim becomes to ingrain employee well-being as part of the organizational DNA and to communicate it as part of a long-term organizational commitment. There are some questions that can help in this process:
How do employees perceive the well-being program? How involved are they? Is it relevant to them? Simply put: Has the company managed to internalize the concept of health and well-being at work as a core value of its organizational culture?
Using technology to make the workplace more human may seem counterintuitive, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. To measure and optimize a workplace well-being strategy, technology offers simple and accessible solutions to convert the wellbeing initiatives into a true pillar of an organization.
How can I ingrain a well-being program into my company’s organizational culture?
The concept of well-being at work was always linked to work motivation, job satisfaction and productivity, but how companies address this issue has evolved in recent years. A link has been made between employee well-being and more human workspaces, a work-life balance, and a more holistic conception of people’s lives.
An employee is the same person who is sitting in the office working and later sharing a dinner with family or friends, why should you think only in terms of “work stress”, “occupational health” or “safety and hygiene at work”? When, in fact, are aspects that should be considered in a holistic way to achieve a fulfilling life?
Based on this new approach, launching isolated actions in the work environment is not enough to improve employee well-being. Employees must truly share the values and ideals that underpin the well-being program. Therefore, the key question is: How can these values be linked to organizational culture?
An example of a company that managed to do a great job of engaging its employees in its well-being program is Banco Santander.
How did they do it? The first step was to turn its “Be healthy” initiative into an organizational value. In other words, the HR team’s strategy was to link the in-house health program aimed at “encouraging healthy colleagues” with the company’s corporate culture. And, how did they turn “Be healthy” into a recognized pillar accepted by people as part of their day-to-day lives? In order to tie it in with its corporate culture, Banco Santander used StarMeUp, a platform of recognition between peers that allows employees to adopt their organization’s values and become promoters of the culture.
“We started using StarMeUp as an employee recognition platform and ended up linking it with new initiatives gaining acceptance in our company, like BeHealthy, which is tied to our in-house health and well-being program,” explains Daniel Strode, Head of Culture and Strategy, Global HR, for Banco Santander.
The success of the strategy was based on the fact that the employees themselves recognized those who adopted healthy practices, promoting the initiative and driving conversations about wellbeing.
“We believe that the health of our people is directly related to the health of our company. By launching a BeHealthy star within the StarMeUp platform, our people were able to recognize other colleagues for living healthily and having a well-being approach in the workplace or outside the company in their daily lives,” says Daniel Strode.
It is important to understand that converting a concept into a cultural value shared by an entire organization is a process that requires the commitment of its leaders. The good news is that technology can play an important role in increasing awareness and adoption of new company initiatives, especially ones as important as well-being.
Work well-being: The fundamental role of technology
In the corporate world, technology and growth go hand in hand. It is difficult to imagine a successful organization that is not innovative, not taking advantage of technological advances. In the field of “workplace well-being,” digital transformation is an HR trend that is here to stay.
Let’s review the top areas where technology can help employees adopt a healthier lifestyle.
- 1. Communicating the program
Very effective campaigns can be developed through digital media, including applications, to promote, engage, recognize and celebrate every aspect of the program.
- 2. Integration and gamification of information
Currently, programs can take advantage of different technologies to obtain information and track how employees participate in different healthy initiatives. Through online platforms, information can be integrated with applications, thereby measuring people’s progress in real time.
In turn, initiatives can be “gamified”. For example, they can motivate employees to team up, and share the individual and collective achievements of their peers. As a result, a company can foster a spirit of self-improvement and healthy and friendly competition. And, well-being platforms and applications can also be integrated with corporate social networks.
- 3. “Wearables” or healthy accessories
“Wearables” are technological accessories used to monitor and measure physical activity and other health-related indicators. New and tempting “wearables” like Fitbit or the Apple Watch appear on the market all the time, from bracelets to smartphone applications. These useful, practical and simple-to-use tools can be perfectly integrated into a company’s health program, which increases the likelihood that employees will focus on improving their health.
- 4. Measuring value
A workplace well-being program will never be successful if it does not ask employees the question: is well-being a relevant issue to them? Are they aware of the importance of participating in the well-being program? Is this a concept that they value? How can you engage them?
Thanks to platforms like StarMeUp, it is possible to obtain metrics on how the well-being value is being lived by an organization. This type of tool counts the interactions of employees in real time, generating meaningful insights about the organizational culture, much like measuring values.
Employee wellbeing: Technology humanizes workplaces
Based on the consensus regarding the importance that organizations provide employees avenues to improve their employees’ well-being, we must ask ourselves the question: how can this be done effectively? In answering the question, keep in mind that the more employees can contribute and collaborate, the more likely the strategy will meet your goals.
Today, thanks to technology, companies can develop workplace well-being programs tailored to the needs of their employees in an innovative and efficient manner, taking advantage of the enormous benefits that technology provides to transform well-being into a meaningful, interactive, and positive experience.