By Lindsay Steckler and Michelle Clark
How do you approach wellness initiatives in a way that resonates with today’s diverse workforce with its multi-generational, multi-cultural employees? How do you address their total health needs while transforming your benefits program into a powerful business asset?
You can start by digging beyond claims patterns to uncover employee motivations, values, preferences and cultural influences. Developing these insights will lead the way to health and wellness initiatives that support employees around the multiple dimensions of health.
Here are three tales from the frontlines to help inspire you.
De-stressing – creatively
What do you do when stress is inherent in a job? For one client in the transportation field, this was a big problem for a significant portion of its worker population. Schedules were irregular, employees spent a lot of time away from their homes and families, plus many were also juggling other stressors off the job, like caregiving and other family issues.
Because these employees were on the go so much, traditional interventions like health coaching were difficult to put in place. So, with HUB’s guidance, the employer implemented brief, regular sessions on mindfulness and meditation for employees that they could access from a mobile app. The approach worked well with workers’ schedules and went a long way to helping them increase their stress resistance and decrease their blood pressure.
Tip: Technology provides great tools for giving people the support they need, when they need it when traditional methods just won’t work.
Responding to cultural nuances
A southern California client with a predominantly Latino employee population wanted to design solutions for some of the workers’ distinct issues. The majority worked two jobs – and there weren’t enough non-work hours in the day for them to work on themselves. So physical health was a concern, in terms of both exercise and diet.
The organization (a senior living community) understood that facilitating small behavior changes could make a big difference in driving better health. HUB helped introduce small changes in several ways. Employees were encouraged to join community residents in physical activities – participating right along in stretching or exercise classes. They were also coached to incorporate healthier food choices in their diet and cooking – like adding more vegetables or finding a substitute for lard.
Tip: Whether for different generations or different cultures, it’s important to avoid wellness solutions that are devised and carried out in a silo, but instead recognize individual mechanisms and needs.
Promoting health and solidarity
One non-profit client was proud of one of the perks that had been designed to create cohesiveness among its employee teams – weekly potlucks where food and talk were shared and a good time was had by all.
But…when employees were surveyed to gauge interests for future wellness initiatives, the feedback was unanimous. “No more potlucks!” “People just bring in fattening food and I gained five pounds in the first month!” To keep the positive impact of the potlucks, HUB helped the employer restructure them with a healthier influence, like adding vegetarian day and other healthier themes to guide preparation.
Tip: You know what they say about assuming. It pays to ask your people about their interests and needs if you want your wellness programs to pay dividends.
As these companies illustrate, a little creativity goes a long way as employers and employees alike broaden their perspective of wellness and think about it more holistically. The end result is employees who are healthier, happier and more productive and employers that win the competitive race.
For more information, review our interactive eBook: 5 Wellness Trends in the Workplace.