Your guide to choosing virtual employee wellness programs

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Whether your team is working remotely or in a hybrid setting, your employees most likely spend a lot of time in an isolated, sedentary state. This can be detrimental to physical and mental health, as well as productivity. Thankfully, virtual employee wellness programs can promote healthier habits.

Let’s explore the ways you can choose and implement the components of your virtual employee wellness programs.

What is a virtual employee wellness program?

Employee wellness programs are benefits offered to a company’s employees that promote healthy habits. In some cases, they offer incentives for specific behaviors like quitting smoking or losing weight. In others, they offer access to healthy resources and encourage employees to use them.

Wellness programs are a separate benefit from health insurance, but the two often work hand-in-hand. Some employers offer health insurance discounts to those who participate. Some companies even run their wellness programs through their health insurance providers. If this interests you, be sure to ask when shopping around for insurance plans.

On the surface, a virtual employee wellness program is functionally the same as one for in-office workers. The difference comes in choosing and implementing the details of a program. First, let’s explore the benefits.

What are the benefits of employee wellness programs?

Employee wellness programs can be expensive benefits to offer every employee, but it’s best to think of them as investments. If you implement a successful program, it may save you money in the long run, all while keeping your employees healthier, happier, and more engaged at work.

Mental health services in particular can have a massive impact on employee retention. A recent survey found that more than 25% of workers have quit a job due to mental health concerns. This same survey found that among those who said their employers don’t do enough to support mental health, only 70% reported being happy at work. This is in stark contrast to the 98% happiness rate found in those who feel their company does support their mental health.

Promoting good physical health reduces illness-related absenteeism and helps your staff to feel more present and engaged at work. Good physical health is a key component to overall life satisfaction, and happier employees are more productive. 

Getting the most out of your investment

The key to getting a successful return on your employee wellness program lies in the engagement gains they produce with your team.  Implementation is critical. Make sure that you effectively communicate the benefits you choose for your employees and encourage them to use the resources provided. It’s also crucial to make them convenient and easy to use. Also, the service providers you choose should provide monthly feedback on engagement with metrics that matter most to you. 

Company leaders should also be engaged in these programs. Those at the top should participate openly and talk about it. They should also continually evaluate the programs, incorporate staff feedback, and make adjustments as needed. If you choose your benefits well and implement them successfully, they will pay for themselves.

Physical health in employee wellness programs

Picture the average day of an American office worker. They wake up, get ready for work, drive to work, then sit in front of a computer all day. If they’re a virtual employee, they simply get up and go sit in front of their home computer all day. If left unchecked, this lifestyle can lead to serious physical health problems.

Encourage your staff to exercise

Offices with in-person workers have it easier than virtual workplaces when it comes to encouraging exercise habits. These companies can pair with a local gym for memberships or dedicate a section of office space to an employee gym. However, if you want to offer virtual exercise benefits, you do have options. For a more traditional benefit, try offering a stipend that pays for a gym membership to a facility convenient to your employee. 

Alternatively, arrange for your staff to join a virtual exercise program. There are a wide variety of options, from live-streamed yoga and pilates classes to online archives of kickboxing and strength training routines. For best results and maximum engagement, try creating an incentive program for participation. Maybe the first employee to stream a hundred yoga classes or rides a certain number of miles in their spin class wins a prize. You can boost camaraderie by doing this too.

Encourage healthy eating

Physical health isn’t just about exercise. Encouraging healthy eating habits in your employees is just as important. While you can offer healthy staff meals for in-person teams, virtual and hybrid teams can’t. However, consider extending fitness challenges to eating habits. Try a healthy lunch challenge, where participants post a photo of their lunch each day for a month, and anyone who eats healthy every day wins a prize. 

You can also encourage your staff to share recipes and cooking experiences in a dedicated group chat, building a sense of community around healthy eating. This is an inexpensive benefit, since the only investment is in whatever you choose as a prize.

Financial health in employee wellness programs

People don’t often think of financial health alongside physical and mental health, but the truth is, healthy habits apply just as much to your bank account as they do to your body. 

Consider inviting guest speakers who are personal finance experts to do virtual seminars and Q+A sessions with your staff. Alternatively, find existing seminars and sign up interested staff. Encourage your employees to attend and learn about investing, financial planning, and debt management. These are usually low-cost benefits.

You can also partner with companies that offer personalized employee financial planning. Experts can meet virtually with your staff members and look over their debts, spending habits, and investments to help them create long-term plans for financial success.

Mental health in employee wellness programs

When your employees work in isolated settings, mental health is a huge concern. More and more companies are offering mental health benefits to offset these conditions and keep employees happy and engaged.

An increasingly popular mental health wellness program involves access to an employee assistance program, or EAP. EAPs are employer-based programs intended to help employees work through personal problems. They can be standalone benefits or bundled with health insurance plans. Traditionally, EAPs have focused on issues like substance abuse, but they’ve since evolved to be more all-encompassing resources. 

Employees can use EAPs to work through challenges related to family, relationships,  spirituality, or anything else an employee might be going through. Many EAPs also offer help in finding additional needed resources related to personal problems, like legal assistance or someone to help negotiate medical bills.

EAPs are easy to implement virtually thanks to video and text-based counseling. Employees can access services anytime they’re needed, no matter if it’s during work hours or personal time. 

Get LEAPCare for your team

When life is difficult and stressful, a caring ear can make a huge difference in someone’s ability to cope and thrive. The Care Coaches at LEAPCare are excellent resources for employees in need, and more and more companies have found LEAPCare to be an invaluable resource in their employee wellness programs.

LEAPCare offers 24/7, confidential virtual care services to you and your team members, so your people can get the care they need when they need it most. With monthly feedback reports on engagement, LEAPCare is a great service to build a caring culture into your company.  Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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