Every employee deserves to be supported on their personal and professional journey—from mental health challenges and family caregiving responsibilities to financial wellness and great people managers.
When employees aren’t supported on their wellbeing journey, it affects more than the individual—it hurts the organization’s bottom line. According to Great Place To Work data, without a high-trust workplace, employee engagement decreases, innovation declines, and employees are more likely to leave their job.
But the biggest challenge isn’t acknowledging that employee wellbeing is critical to organizational success. It’s knowing how to support and improve your employees’ wellbeing.
So, where should you begin? As a former HR practitioner and benefits leader, I’ve spent years working with companies to foster happier employees to unlock better business outcomes.
Depending on where you are in your employee wellbeing journey, I’ve created three guides to assist you in supporting your employees:
- The basics: For those just starting out.
- Next level: When you’re ready to take employee wellbeing to the next level.
- Holistic support: Discover the benefits and how to support employee growth beyond the workplace.
The first step is to start. You can only improve from there.
The basics: 10 essential elements of employee wellbeing
These 10 essential elements of employee wellbeing will ensure your employees’ basic needs are met.
1. Health and well-being support: Providing comprehensive support for both mental and physical health, including access to mental health resources like counseling or therapy, wellness programs, fitness memberships, health screenings, and promoting healthy lifestyle choices.
2. Work-life balance: Promoting a healthy balance between work and personal life by implementing policies that support flexible working hours, remote work options, time off for personal needs, and encouraging employees to take breaks and vacations and utilize family-friendly policies.
3. Financial wellness: Providing access to financial education, resources, and tools to help employees manage their finances effectively, including retirement planning, investment guidance, debt management support, and access to financial advisors.
4. Career development: Offering opportunities for skill development, training, and growth within the organization. Supporting employees' professional aspirations through mentorship programs, coaching, or tuition assistance for further education.
5. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging: Prioritizing diversity, belonging, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, including training programs, policies, and resources that support employees from all backgrounds. Creating an inclusive environment where employees feel respected, valued and comfortable to bring all of themselves to work.
6. Employee recognition and rewards: Recognizing and rewarding employees' achievements, contributions, and milestones. Implementing a system for acknowledging and appreciating employees’ hard work and dedication through various means such as verbal recognition, awards, bonuses, or other incentives.
7. Employee benefits and perks: Offering a comprehensive benefits package that caters to employees' needs (i.e. relevant benefits) and supports their overall well-being, which can include healthcare coverage, parental leave, retirement plans, flexible spending accounts, wellness incentives, and other perks that enhance employees' quality of life.
8. Employee safety and security: Ensuring employees' physical and psychological safety in the workplace. Implementing safety protocols, providing training on workplace safety, and addressing concerns related to physical security, harassment, discrimination, or any form of workplace misconduct.
9. Work environment: Ensuring a safe and comfortable physical environment supporting productivity and well-being. Providing ergonomic equipment, proper lighting, and access to amenities like relaxation areas or quiet spaces.
10. Employee communication and feedback: Encouraging employee feedback, conducting surveys, and providing mechanisms for open communication. Actively involving employees in decision-making processes and valuing their input.
Once you’ve covered the basics of employee wellbeing, you’re ready to take it a step further. This is where next-level support comes in.
Next level: Seven tips for improving employee wellbeing
This list is about ensuring the entire person is supported along their professional journey.
1. Address emotional well-being: Addressing emotional wellbeing goes beyond mental health support. It involves promoting emotional intelligence and resilience and providing resources for managing emotions effectively. This can include workshops, training, and resources on emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and stress management techniques.
2. Foster positive work relationships and effective communication: Fostering positive work relationships and effective communication among employees and teams. Promoting open, honest, and respectful communication channels, conflict resolution strategies, and team-building activities to enhance collaboration and a positive work environment.
3. Create a culture of knowledge sharing and learning: Creating a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing. Providing opportunities for employees to learn from one another, share expertise, and contribute to the organization's collective knowledge through mentoring programs, knowledge-sharing platforms, or regular training sessions.
4. Build a resilient workforce by investing in change management: Equipping employees with tools and resources to navigate change, adapt to new situations, and build resilience. Providing support during organizational changes, restructuring, or transitions to help employees cope with uncertainties and thrive in the face of challenges.
5. Offer social support: Fostering a sense of community and connection among employees through team-building activities, social events, or employee resource groups. Encouraging collaboration, open communication, and recognition programs to enhance employee engagement.
6. Address workload and stress management: Addressing workload concerns, providing resources for stress management, and promoting a healthy work environment. Offering strategies for managing work-related stress, setting realistic goals, and promoting effective time management.
7. Develop leaders: Offering opportunities for employees to develop leadership skills, whether in formal leadership roles or aspiring to grow in their careers. Providing training, mentorship, and support to help employees enhance their leadership capabilities and contribute to the organization's success.
Every point we’ve covered so far has one commonality: they’re about what goes on inside company walls. Not exactly the epitome of holistic, right?
Holistic support: Unlocking potential and expanding support beyond the business
Holistic support goes beyond the confines of your business. These ideas will help you support your employees on both their personal and professional paths. These are well-kept secrets that successful companies rarely share.
- Personal development and growth: Providing resources, workshops, and support for personal development and self-improvement outside work-related skills. This can include personal goal setting, time management strategies, resilience-building techniques, and workshops on topics like mindfulness, self-care, personal finance and anything else that matters to your people.
- Personal relationships and communication: Offering resources and support for developing and maintaining healthy relationships. This can include workshops on effective communication, conflict resolution, or relationship-building strategies. Recognizing the importance of strong personal relationships in well-being and providing tools to foster meaningful connections.
- Family support: Recognizing and supporting employees' roles and responsibilities as caregivers or parents. Offering resources such as parental leave policies, childcare assistance, or workshops on parenting skills, work-life balance for parents, or supporting the well-being of employees' families.
- Personalized support and coaching: Providing access to personalized coaching or mentorship programs that help employees identify their passions, set personal goals, and navigate challenges outside of work, which can involve connecting employees with mentors or coaches who can guide them in their journeys.
- Personal passion projects: Encouraging employees to pursue their passion projects and hobbies. Offering flexibility in work schedules or time-off policies allows employees to dedicate time to their endeavours, whether art, music, writing, volunteering, or any other activity that brings them joy and fulfilment.
Many top-notch companies have gone all-in on integrating “passion projects” into their employees’ holistic support programs. Here are a few examples:
Adobe's “Kickbox”: Adobe’s “Kickbox” program supports employees in pursuing their personal passion projects, which can be unrelated to Adobe’s core business. Employees can explore their interests, such as music, art, or community initiatives, with the resources provided by the company.
Google’s “Google Art Project”: Google launched the “Google Art Project,” allowing employees to engage in art-related projects outside their regular work. This initiative encouraged employees with a passion for art to contribute to developing online art collections and exhibitions, benefiting art enthusiasts worldwide.
Facebook’s “Hackathons”: Facebook organizes regular “Hackathons” where employees can work on personal passion projects. While many of these projects may be technology-focused, there are instances where employees pursue creative endeavours like music, photography, or social initiatives during these events.
Atlassian’s “ShipIt Days”: Although primarily focused on software development, Atlassian’s “ShipIt Days” also provide an opportunity for employees to work on personal passion projects outside the realm of software. Employees can explore diverse interests, such as crafts, writing, or social entrepreneurship, during these dedicated innovation events.
Microsoft's “Garage Projects”: Microsoft encourages employees to participate in “Garage Projects,” where they can explore their passions and develop innovative ideas outside of their regular work. These projects can span a wide range of interests, including areas like gaming, music, or sustainability.
Zappos’ “Zapponians’ Choice”: Zappos, an online retailer, implemented a program called “Zapponians’ Choice” that provides employees with resources to pursue their passions. The program offers funding and support for employees to explore areas such as music, arts, crafts, and even community service projects.
Salesforce’s “Innovation Time Off”: Salesforce introduced an “Innovation Time Off” initiative that encourages employees to dedicate time to personal passion projects. Employees can explore various interests, such as writing, volunteering, environmental sustainability, or personal development initiatives.
IBM’s “THINKLab”: IBM created the “THINKLab” initiative, where employees can work on innovative projects of their choice, even if unrelated to IBM’s core business. This initiative fosters creativity and allows employees to pursue personal passions such as robotics, music, or social impact initiatives.
These companies aren’t just playing around with holistic support. They’re going above and beyond to embrace personal passion projects that break all the rules of the 9-to-5 grind. By backing these initiatives, organizations prove they’re about fueling creativity, personal growth, and the work-life harmony that employees crave.
I hope these spark your imagination. Let them be the fuel that drives you to create something extraordinary to support your employees.