How to choose the right initiatives for your health and wellbeing strategy
It has been well documented that creating a workplace health and wellbeing strategy can benefit both the business and the employee. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine stats: “Participating in health promotion programs can help improve productivity levels among employees and save money for their employers.”
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Whilst creating a health and wellbeing strategy can take time, for many, the most exciting part of it is determining which initiatives and benefits to include. At this stage, it can be tempting to try and do it all at once and aim to offer everything to everyone, however there is real value in taking it one step at a time.
Start small and select the initiatives that will make a difference to your employees and their specific health and wellbeing needs. The initiatives you select should help you to achieve the overall objectives of your strategy and work within your pre-determined budget. By offering less initiatives at the beginning you will also help to ensure employee buy-in as they won’t be overwhelmed by all that is on offer.
Offering less- -but effective - initiatives at the beginning, will also help you to review what is working, refine where necessary, and then expand on them as they prove their worth.
With that in mind, here are some tips for you to consider to help you select the right initiatives for your strategy.
Create a long list of potential initiatives
The first step is to create a long list of potential initiatives. Create a committee made up of employees from all departments and sit down to brainstorm ideas, being as creative as you can. Some initial suggestions to consider and discuss include:
Food and drink
Changing the food and drink that is available to employees can often be a simple and cost-effective way to promote health and wellbeing. This could include adding healthier options to the canteen menu, swapping biscuits for fruit and introducing decaffeinated coffee and/or herbal teas.
These changes could include introducing new workstation designs, providing on-site shower facilities and building an on-site relaxation area.
Consider changing some internal procedures, which in many cases can be free and very effective. For example, emails can sometimes be a big source of stress in many employees’ lives. To combat this, you could implement an automatic deletion of emails when on holiday, so employees do not return to an inbox fit to burst.
Helplines can provide employees with access to trained healthcare professionals 24/7, without having to take time out of their day to attend appointments. These helplines can sometimes be offered as part of other benefit packages, for example with Benenden Healthcare your employees will have access to GP 24/7 and psychological wellbeing helplines from day one of membership.
Training line managers
Managers are the gatekeeper to how someone feels about their work, but line managers are often not trained to discuss health and wellbeing. Make sure that you train up anyone with management responsibility to have discussions on health, identify when someone is struggling, and know where to signpost them for support should they need it.
Consider external support
There is a diary of annual health awareness days and Government initiatives that offer advice and support e.g. Movember, an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the November to raise awareness of men's health issues, such as prostate cancer, Dry January when someone refrains from drinking any alcohol as a personal challenge or Cycle to Work schemes. Harnessing these events can really help with communicating your strategy and provide some great resources too. Also, consider local charities or support groups who you may be able to partner with.
Select your final list
Once you’ve established a long list of initiatives and their cost, you can review and rank them to determine your final list.
Review against your objectives – Rank each benefit or intervention against how it can help to meet your objectives, and ultimately your vision. If it is unlikely to really help your objective it should be removed from the list.
Review against budget – As you are likely to have a finite budget, review your popular most relevant initiatives against potential cost, and savings, to understand the best combination within your budget.Can you measure it? – Consider how you could calculate and demonstrate the impact of interventions and benefits. Some you can’t, but if you can measure it then do so.
Can everyone access it? – If you are multi sited, or have differing age groups, make sure that everyone can access what you offer. If not, what could you offer to them instead?
Survey employees – Survey your employees to see if they have any preference on initiatives. As well as getting an understanding what of benefits and interventions would be the most popular, it can also give you an initial indication of employee engagement levels.
Choosing the right initiatives can help ensure employee engagement and the overall success of the strategy, which in turn can help if requesting additional budget or resource to evolve and improve the strategy year on year.
To find out more about selecting initiatives for your strategy, as well as further information on the five key stages in developing an effective strategy, download our Guide to developing a health and wellbeing strategy.