3 ways to boost employee engagement with wellness programs

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As the pandemic wears on and staff burnout is rife, mental health and wellness programs have become more important to employees. However, many employees either don't know or don't use these offerings. Here are three ways to boost engagement in these programs among staff, reported by the Harvard Business Review Oct. 5. 

"The Great Resignation" has shed light on how many employees are seeking better work-life balance and are prioritizing their mental well-being. As a result, many employers have responded to these challenges by increasing their offerings of support. A Gartner study showed that of the 77 organizations interviewed, 64 percent had implemented new wellness programs in 2020. A 2021 report showed, however, that despite 87 percent of employees having access to well-being offerings, only 23 percent make use of them.

To ensure employees are reaping the benefits of the offerings and organizations are maximizing their investments, here are three ways to boost employee engagement with these programs:

1. Increase awareness

Many employees are in the dark regarding their wellness options, with a 2020 study finding that less than 42 percent of employees were aware that their companies offered wellness programs. It's important, then, that human resources communicates clearly and effectively with employees about offerings, making sure they understand that they are eligible for the programs and are encouraged to participate. Having senior staff and leadership teams talking about their experiences with the offerings could also help improve awareness. 

2. Reduce stigma

The stigma around suffering from mental health issues is still strong and can prevent employees from seeking help. To overcome the stigma, companies can equip trusted managers with the tools to open up a dialogue with their employees regarding these sensitive issues. Other employees can also be encouraged to share their success stories using the programs to create more peer-to-peer connection.

3. Make time 

Often, those in most need of support have the least amount of time and energy to seek it. Out of those who said they had the option to participate in a wellness program but didn't, 38 percent gave being too busy as the reason. To ensure employees are getting the care they need, HR leaders can use an opt-out design in which all staff are enrolled in a certain benefit and have the option to leave. Companies can also create global recharge days in which the majority of the workforce is given the same day off.

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