There is very little that COVID-19 has left untouched, and workplace health programs are a part of this incredibly long list.
As companies batten down the hatches to protect the health of their employees, ironically the very programs that were created to improve that health are one of the first things on the chopping block.
This isn’t so surprising, as health programs are still seen as ‘extra’ and not essential to the operations of most businesses.
This is true if your health program consists of a smattering of yoga classes and a lunch and learn every now and then, but if it’s done right, your health program can be your greatest asset, especially in a time like this.
We’re seeing a lot of challenges across the board for companies, and many will struggle to overcome them.
Some people are working from home whilst others are keen to get back in the office as soon as possible.
The scale and uncertainty of the situation at the moment means that stress and anxiety are at an all time high.
Many business objectives have shifted from growth to survival.
As business declines for many companies, there is less money to put towards ‘non-essential’ programs.
Misinformation is rampant and causing confusion as to what is the right course of action.
These challenges may look at first glance to be reasons to put your health program on the back burner, but they’re actually opportunities to kick it up a gear.
If your health program is both comprehensive and adaptable, you can deal with these challenges before they become real problems.
Here’s what your health program should be offering as we move forward.
Offer a blended approach.
With some people keen to come back to the office and others preferring to work remotely, you need to adjust the delivery to cater for all of them. Offering services like health consultations, information sessions, meditation, and exercise classes online, as well as in person, means that everyone has access to them, and it reduces the isolation that many people feel when working remotely. This can also be a more cost effective method of delivery as it cuts down on travel time and equipment needed for implementation.
Focus on the why, not the what.
Don’t tell people what to do. Instead tell them why it’s important and how they will benefit from it and they will choose to do it on their own. When people truly understand a thing, and the dangers that it poses to them and others, they will seek out the solutions and demand, instead of resist, their implementation. Instead of ordering your staff to wear masks and not shake hands with each other, teach them about microorganism transmission and the chain of infection, and they will reach those conclusions on their own. Rather than mandating that people show up to lunchtime exercise, teach them about muscle adaptation and lymphatic pooling and they’ll be jumping at the chance to move on company time. Your people are smart. Teach them what they need to know and they’ll make the right decisions.
Concentrate on health behaviours, rather than outcomes.
Now more than ever is the time to get back to basics. Goals should not be so outcome focused, particularly when those outcomes might be temporarily out of reach. We have no control over whether or not we will achieve the goals we set, all we can control is the work it takes to get there. Instead of setting a goal of losing 1000kg company-wide, instead focus on 1000 collective hours of exercise a month, or 30 servings of veggies per person per week. Break goals down into concrete steps and use those steps as your success metrics. That way you can achieve your goals everyday, rather than, hopefully, someday in the future.
Understand the root causes of stress.
Stress is rampant at the moment, and it manifests differently for everyone. Some of your people may be concerned about their health, others about their job, others might be more concerned about government policy than the pandemic itself. Whatever the root causes, it’s up to a good health program to discover and address them at the source. This means good two-way communication from those running the health program and management is needed, as this can be an ear to the ground and help to nip any major stressors in the bud before they manifest as issues.
Let your staff tell you what they want.
Don’t guess at what your people want, ask them.
Give your staff a measure of control over the health program that you run. Take their input on board and let them help you build and run it. By giving them some skin in the game, you not only break down some of the barriers to adoption and give yourself a group of ready-made health advocates, but you give your people the kind of program they would actually engage witn and want to succeed.
Give employees a shared experience.
Remote working. Isolation. Lockdown. Whilst these are all necessary measures at the moment, they can also be incredibly lonely and make workers feel disconnected.
Give your staff something to work towards together. When setting goals, make it a collective goal, rather than individual, so each person has the chance to contribute to the achievement as a whole. People want to contribute. They want to feel valued and a part of something bigger than themselves. Give them this, especially in a time where we often feel so powerless, and watch your company culture flourish.
Workplace health is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but at the core of a properly functioning team. This pandemic will not last, but the culture you instill by protecting your people and allowing them to thrive will.
Be smart, plan ahead, take care, and stay safe.
At Kinex Health we literally wrote the book on Workplace Wellness programs, and we design and implement them for companies everyday. So, if you would like the experts to do it for you, give us a call. We’re here to help. If you’re keen to run one yourself but don’t know where to start, or if your current program isn’t getting the results you want, check out our Workplace Wellness Blueprint course.Back to Health Hub