happy smiling man

Employees that are energized are healthier and perform better. But in what way could you encourage your employees to take care of themselves? So that they can make conscious choices and become less susceptible to stress and disease? Do you offer them a gym membership? Or a course in mindfulness? Individual coaching perhaps? Or do you have a company-wide approach? And is offering fruit at work beneficial, or not really? Is there such a thing as a universal approach to employee wellbeing that is successful?

Let’s be clear: at OneWave we support any action that an employer takes to improve the wellbeing of their employees. It demonstrates the employer’s care and involvement. So, having a fruit basket at the office is perfectly fine! But if we take a closer look, we can also get a bit skeptical at times. As we often see that these positive actions become the end-goal. So even if the incentives can lead to some initial excitement amongst the employees, it doesn’t lead to sustainable behavioral changes. What could employers do instead, to create an employee wellbeing program that is successful? One that truly helps employees to make conscious choices that improve their health and performance in the long-run? In this blog post we will take a closer look at this complexity and share the two key elements of a successful employee wellbeing program.

Key element #1: Focus on individual needs and circumstances

There is a lot of general information available on increasing employee wellbeing, about food, exercise, sleep, etcetera. And although the information can be interesting and increase awareness, it rarely leads to structural behavioral changes. Why is that the case? Behavioral changes are not simply achieved by processing information alone, but depends on various personal and environmental factors. Everyone is unique, and will require different things to remain fit and energized. Whilst being in a meeting can be stressful for some, it can be relaxing for others. The same applies to exercise; for some this can be a source of energy, whilst it can be very taxing for others. And while some people really enjoy social interaction and find it relaxing, it can be exhausting for others. I often see people applying many suggestions they got from inspirational webinars, blogs, articles, etcetera, only to have to give up a few weeks later. Why? Because they are missing one important question: what works for me personally?

Requirement to succeed: If you want to achieve sustainable behavioral changes, you need to tailor the generic lessons to meet the individual needs and circumstances of your employees.

Key element #2: Wellbeing is a 24/7 thing

This might be the most challenging part for employers: you can be a good employer and offer your employees everything to improve their wellbeing at work, but it is just as important what people do during their time outside of work. Too often I see people over-extending themselves, and blaming it on experiencing too much pressure at work. Whilst the problem is actually a stressful situation in their personal life, which is causing so much stress that they can’t cope with their regular workload. Research has shown that what people do outside of work has a big impact on the level of energy they bring to work, and subsequently influences their performance. And the other way around. However, most employee wellbeing programs are solely focused on vitality at work. What employees do outside of work is being disregarded. That is safe and a clear boundary. But it would be really beneficial to look at what employees do outside of their workday; what other roles do they have to fulfill and where do their challenges lie?

Requirement to succeed: if you want to increase the energy and performance of your employees you should focus on their energy levels over 24 hours, not just their work hours.

Wellbeing is more relevant now than ever before, which is why many employers want to invest in the health and happiness of their employees. Take advantage of this momentum, and implement the two key elements to take wellbeing in your organization to the next level.

About the author:

Noortje de Lange is a partner at Onewave. She has a background in Business Administration and Psychology. Her fascination for people and their happiness at work, led her to choose a career in change management, research, HR and coaching. She fulfilled various roles at Berenschot, Achmea and Effectory. “A healthy energy balance is the main driver of health and performance.” At Onewave she utilizes her passion for this subject to teach people and organizations how to become more energized in a sustainable way.