The 2020 edition of the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey – arguably the most reputable and referenced healthcare survey in the country – makes clear that a positive workplace wellness culture is key to a business’s success. But why?
Simply put, a strong wellness culture plays an important role in employee job satisfaction, which in turn drives productivity and both healthier results and healthier bottom lines for everyone from company stakeholders to the employees and their families. But it starts even earlier than that. A strong wellness culture is important also in the attraction and retention of strong talent. More than 85% of employees surveyed agree that a workplace environment that encourages health and wellness is an important factor when deciding whether to accept a job offer or continue with a current employer.
The great news is that it appears that employers are listening. Over the next three years, 74% of employers plan to dedicate funding and/or staff resources outside of the health benefit plan to at least one out of five possible health and wellness areas. Among them, they will most likely do so in the area of emotional/mental health (58%), followed by the prevention of illness and/or management of chronic conditions (49%), physical fitness (45%), social well-being (44%) and financial well-being (40%).
The development and maintenance of a wellness culture needn’t be complicated or costly, though. Providing employees with safety supports, and actively encouraging positive relationships among co-workers and with immediate supervisors, is a great start. The options are endless from there:
• Flexible work arrangements
• Flexible health benefits
• Well-defined Human Resource policies
• Mental well-being support
• Workplace wellness programs
• Social activities
• Healthy snacks…and the list goes on.
The degree to which these types of initiatives positively impact a workplace wellness culture, though, depends significantly on the degree to which senior leadership supports and engages in them. This is something that my team and I at Wiegers Financial & Benefits can attest to personally and with genuine enthusiasm.
We have been actively promoting and supporting a wellness culture in our workplace for almost 20 years, long before it became popular to do so. Our initiatives have evolved a lot over the years but currently include a very active volunteer social committee that regularly – frequently, actually – does extraordinary things to engage our team socially and to inject fun into our workdays and to celebrate holidays and other special days. Even during the pandemic our social committee continues to deliver in meaningful, impactful, and outside-of-the-box ways. Our management team actively supports this kind of initiative for the comradery it fosters, its morale-boosting impacts, and the message it sends our team that their happiness matters.
Really, though, all aspects of our team’s mental health matters. We have a culture of open dialogue when it comes to mental health struggles and triumphs, and we support and encourage our team members to share their own stories. We also continue to provide our team members with an Employee and Family Assistance Program, which includes coverage for counselling and many other mental health supports, and we increased the benefit amount for psychologist coverage on our benefits plan.
We take steps to help our team members’ physical health too. We provide each employee with an annual Health Spending Account and Wellness Spending Account to provide coverage for health and wellness expenses not already covered under our group benefits plan. We also provide a Second Opinion benefit, which enables our employees to seek second medical opinions from some of the best medical doctors in the world. We provide our employees with a telemedicine benefit so they can quickly and easily access a medical expert by phone or video chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of home. And of course there’s our Wiegers Wellness Partners Program. The Program, which is almost 20 years old now but is undergoing a refresh and expansion, was originally designed to provide our group benefit clients and their employees with discounted pricing at participating local businesses in the wellness industry. The Program was since made available to our individual clients in our Wealth Management Division too but it’s something our own employees and their families make good use of as well.
All of this pays off. A lot, and for everyone involved. We recently surveyed our team for anonymous feedback about our wellness culture and learned – or rather confirmed – that the vast majority of our team members are really happy with it. We also requested and are now considering thoughtful feedback about what we might do differently; we’re always looking for new ideas! But beyond the survey results are what we’re seeing elsewhere in our business. Employee turnover is extremely low, with several employees working with us for upwards of 10, 15 and even 20 years. Client retention is extremely high – something we’d have a difficult time achieving if we had a revolving door of employees not well-trained and not highly-experienced in the financial services industry. And despite a lot of busy-ness and sometimes high-pressure demands, there’s laughter in our office – and lots of it. We all have days when going to work is not what we’d choose to do if we had the choice but the wellness culture at Wiegers Financial & Benefits makes even difficult days a bit brighter.
For employers who don’t yet have a strategy for creating a workplace wellness culture, it might seem an overwhelming thing to get started but it needn’t feel like that. Try one or two easy, low-cost options and see what they do. Once you get started, and you discover what matters to you and your team, I predict you’ll want to do more because the benefits to your employees, your business AND you will be clear and motivating. As is the case everywhere, wellness in the workplace is a winning solution for everyone.
Debra L. Wiegers, GBA, CLU, CH.F.C.
Benefits Advisor, Wiegers Financial and Insurance Planning Services Ltd.