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Culture

How to Establish a Successful Employee Wellbeing Strategy

May 18, 2022
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10 mins

Looking to build an employee well-being program? Check out our five tips and get inspired with some real-life examples.

Lawrence Barker
Looking to build an employee well-being program? Check out our five tips and get inspired with some real-life examples.

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Self-care is having a “moment” right now (and rightly so!). As the broader awareness of the importance of self-care has grown in pop culture, there’s been increased pressure on businesses to commit to promoting their employees’ well-being

Some companies provide benefits like paying for a gym membership or offering healthy snack options at the office (if they still have one). Others provide a discretionary budget for employees to learn something new or give time off to volunteer in their communities. 

Each of these examples is part of those businesses' well-being strategies. As those benefits start becoming more commonplace, it’s important for businesses without well-being programs to create them. If they don’t, they’ll find it much harder to attract qualified job candidates and grow their team. In fact, one study found nearly 1 in 5 people said well-being benefits were important to them. 

With well-being becoming increasingly important, what can you do to accommodate current and future employees? We dive into why you should have a well-being program and how to establish a successful well-being strategy. We’ll also share a few great examples of businesses with strong well-being programs. 

Why is it important to have a well-thought-out well-being strategy?

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. If they’re not feeling their best, they won’t be performing their best. Though many factors impact health and productivity, a well-being program should be a cornerstone of your efforts to proactively foster a healthy workforce. 

Since well-being is such an important part of overall employee health, it’s something that you should put a lot of consideration into. If not, you may end up spending a lot of time, energy, and money on something that doesn’t provide much value. 

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How to establish a well-being strategy

Now that you know why it’s important to create an employee well-being strategy, let’s look at five concrete steps you can take to get things rolling. 

1. Determine a well-being lead

Every successful project needs a champion. Creating a well-being strategy is no different. 

Though in theory, anyone with the capacity could take on the role, there’s often a more natural fit with people working in people operations or human resources. That said, if there’s someone on another team who’s really passionate about doing the work, they should be considered, too. 

No matter who ends up in the role, there are a few best practices to follow: 

  • Have clear expectations: It’s hard to do a job well if you don’t know what’s expected of you. Make sure you clearly state what’s in your well-being lead’s orbit and what responsibilities lie with others. This also stops people from stepping on toes or doing duplicate work.

  • Provide support: Even though one person may be leading the charge, be sure to provide them with support from others to get things done. It’s even better if you get someone in a leadership position to back them, as leaders tend to have more pull and can help move things along quicker.

  • Make it an official responsibility: Sometimes people take on tasks but aren’t given the official capacity to do the additional work. Make sure you empower your lead to spend a sufficient amount of their time to launch and manage the program. The time needed will vary based on your company size and program complexity, but if you’re just getting started then something like 10-15% of their overall capacity should be plenty.  

2. Talk to your employees

“Creating an employee well-being strategy should start, you guessed it, with the employees,” says Agnieszka Goulin, Head of People at Spacelift. “In our planning process, the first action was to poll employees about the perks and benefits they desired.” 

Agnieszka recommends every company takes a similar approach to their strategy. Since your employee well-being strategy is built to serve your employees, it stands to reason that you should spend a lot of time talking to your people upfront. To do so, you could try a few different things: 

  • Surveys: Surveys are the most cost-effective way to get feedback from your entire company. However, they may limit how deep you can go on certain topics since you’re not able to ask follow-up or clarifying questions. 
  • Individual interviews: Individual interviews are the most resource-intensive approach you can take. To make sure they’re representative of your company as a whole, you need to interview a large number of individuals. 
  • Group interviews: Group interviews let you dive deeper than a survey can because you can ask follow-up questions in real-time. They also give you a broader understanding than conducting individual interviews. If you go with this route, make sure you have diverse groups to get the best sense of how your well-being strategy can best serve your company as a whole. 

Each of these methods has pros and cons, so you’ll need to choose whichever is the best fit for your team. Whichever you choose, remember that the goal is to learn as much as possible to inform your next steps.

3. Meet with leadership

Even if a well-being program is employee-led, you still need buy-in from leadership to make the idea a reality. You should set up a time to meet with leadership to garner their support and also solicit their feedback.

This meeting can also help you have a more realistic view of what will and won’t be possible. Knowing these realities can help you use your time and energy more effectively. For example, there may be some amount of budget already earmarked for something like a well-being program. Or maybe there are other funds being underutilized you could repurpose. 

You’ll need to dig for information like this, but having many conversations with leadership will help inform your planning and execution.

4. Outline a plan 

Once you’ve done your research and have a more realistic view of what you can actually do, it’s time to start making a plan. First, you should look at all the data you’ve collected. Instead of focusing on specific benefits, try to see if you notice any trends in the types of benefits people want. 

For example, you may see lots of requests centering around physical well-being. Using that as a starting point, you can start looking into more specific benefit ideas like subsidizing a gym membership or fitness classes. 

Starting with the obvious trends is the best way to broadly cover your employee base, but you should also remember to try and be as inclusive as possible with any perk you offer. 

Another approach to rolling out a well-being program is to outsource the logistics to a specialized company. Outsourcing partners can help reduce the hours you need to spend on the program (for a cost). If you’re curious to learn more, we’ve compiled a list of a few options to consider below: 


5. Set a date and launch your program

Once your plan is in place, it’s time to decide on a launch date. While this might feel like a small to-do, setting and publicizing a launch date can help create enthusiasm and drive employee participation. It also helps make sure your well-being program doesn’t stay in development indefinitely. 

Prior to your launch date, do your best to document the different offerings and resources available to employees. If people have questions—which they probably will—this helps you know where to direct them. Creating a smooth onboarding experience should result in a higher adoption rate of your awesome new benefits. 

When your program launches, figure out the best way to get the benefits in front of employees. Slack? Email? A real-time company all hands? You may even choose to share information via multiple channels to ensure it’s seen by as many eyes as possible.

How to measure the success of your well-being program

There isn’t one clearcut “well-being” metric you can easily track, which means understanding how successful your well-being program is requires looking at a few different things. 

The adoption rate is a logical starting point. You’ve done all this work and spent money to promote well-being. Are people actually engaging with your new benefits? If not, you’ll want to dive in and diagnose why there’s a lack of engagement.

Another way to track success is to do a post-launch survey. Several months after your launch date, ask what employees think of the new program and whether they’re actively using the perks offered. You could also ask how well the provided benefits align with their hopes and if there are any areas they’d like to see the program expand into. 

A third way to gauge the success of your program is to compare morale and engagement before and after your program launches. Hypothetically, a well-being program should always have a positive impact on engagement and morale. If you’re using a tool like Kona, measuring this impact is super easy. If your employees’ morale and overall well-being are improving, you should see a corresponding increase in how employees feel in your Kona reporting.

With these three pieces of data, you should have a strong understanding of how successful your program is—and maybe even how you can improve in the future. 


How to iterate on your well-being strategy

Getting a well-being program started at all is a huge accomplishment. But if you want to ensure it continues to provide value for years to come, you can’t simply set it up and forget it. 

Doing things like continually monitoring participation rates is a must. You should also send out surveys at a set cadence (perhaps once or twice a year) to see if there are new items employees want to be added. If certain benefits see consistent drops in participation, maybe they’re no longer a good fit and should be eliminated. 

Employee well-being is an evolving thing, so it’s also a good idea to stay actively engaged with the well-being community as a whole. Join online communities and participate in webinars to be inspired and think of new and exciting ways you can help improve your teams’ well-being.

Examples of effective employee well-being programs  

If you’re looking for some inspiration right now, below are three companies we think are nailing employee well-being with some unique benefits. 

Asana

At Asana they know it’s near impossible to do your best work if you’re not getting enough shut-eye. They actually have nap rooms at their office where employees can catch up on sleep if they need to. They also offer in-house yoga classes to improve physical health. They also have a mentorship program for those looking for professional guidance and support. 

While a few of these examples are specific to a colocated company, they’re easily transferable to a remote environment. Flexible scheduling and stipends for fitness or mindfulness programs are a great place to start.

Help Scout

Many know Help Scout for helping companies create amazing customer experiences, so it should come as no surprise that they also have some awesome well-being perks to keep their employees happy, too. Along with a number of remote-friendly perks like a coworking stipend, Help Scout offers every team member a month-long sabbatical after they’ve been with the company for four years. They’ll even contribute up to $2,500 to ensure the time off is extra incredible. 

Sometimes the best way to keep team members engaged is to show them you value them and to empower them to step away from work for a time.

Accenture

Accenture is so serious about employee well-being that they actually launched an app for it. Their app—Accenture Active—encourages employees to set a specific wellness goal and offers tools to help them achieve that goal. They also offer confidential support services if any staff is struggling with stress or other life issues. On top of that, they have a flexible work environment and unlimited PTO to help employees fit work into the rest of their lives.

Kickstart a strong well-being program

Well-being may be a trend, but we all know that having healthy employees will never go out of style. 

Building a well-being strategy is a positive step toward making a happier and healthier workforce. It’s the right thing to do, and it will help create a more engaged and productive workforce. 

Start with these five steps and you’ll be well on your way to a successful well-being program of your own. 

Meet the Author

Lawrence Barker

Lawrence uses his decade of customer experience leadership to create content for B2B SaaS companies that love their customers. He writes on a broad range of topics, all with the aim of helping human-centered companies attract the right customers and empower them to be successful.

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