With all the news lately about coronavirus, one thing’s for certain: companies must not only anticipate that it could arrive and affect their employees and operations but realize that now’s also a good time to put together a health and wellbeing strategy. Such a strategy wouldn’t only be in anticipation of the coronavirus, but also something that’s in place for the future.
What Is It?
A health and wellbeing strategy establishes the framework for the impact the company wants its wellbeing program to have. It should also be aligned with the goals and objectives of the company. It not only helps the company understand its employees but also informs them that the company cares deeply about them. Finally, a strategy offers the company a focused approach to its health initiatives.
There should be a consensus on not just the vision for employee wellbeing, but also on the strategy’s goals and aims. The values of the company should also mirror objectives of the strategy. Similarly, there needs to be agreement on how many resources will be directed to it. Both aren’t easy tasks, but inviting and having employee participation is critical. Empowering employee representatives to share the desires and feelings of co-workers will give any decision reached more credibility and certainty of acceptance throughout the organization.
As in many other areas of business, a health and wellbeing strategy should be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. It’s important that it be viewed as a long-term commitment to employee health and safety that will be reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis. Recent research by the Rewards & Employee Benefits Association turned up a couple of interesting findings. More than one third of respondents reported crafting their strategy to increase employee engagement and another 25% said they did it to improve the corporate culture.
In addition to existing benefits, other things to consider incorporating into the strategy include mental and physical health (counseling and exercise), social (volunteering and CSR), workplace environment and safety, ethics (behavior and values), policies (equality and parental leave), and benefits (EAP and childcare). The latest news of coronavirus offers up another consideration. Add special training that’s appropriate for an issue that arises. Infection control sessions featuring such things as effective hand washing techniques would likely be welcomed and very well-received today.
Once a health and wellbeing strategy and budget are approved, it’s important that details be clearly shared with employees. Not only do they need to know what’s being offered, but also how to access it.
Having a launch event with posters, emails, employee meetings or briefings, and even employee influencers or champions would attract attention and interest. The key message that should be communicated is that the strategy represents real change. That’s why having employee input and involvement in planning the strategy is so important. The final ingredient is to monitor employee feedback about the strategy and have a willingness to make changes when necessary. Keep employees advised about the progress of the plan, as well as any changes.
As to today’s situation regarding coronavirus, constant and open communication with employees is critical. As news reports alert and sometimes alarm the public about more discoveries and its spread, employees need to know that the company not only cares about them but is also doing whatever it can to keep them safe and healthy.