Workplace Wellbeing: Why has my company wellbeing initiative fallen flat?

In today's fast-paced and demanding professional landscape, workplace wellbeing is typically viewed as being of critical importance in driving success. Companies want to invest in their people, and they understand that under-investing in wellbeing will ultimately cost their business more in the long run.

There are scores of providers in the industry, each with various offerings from fitness and health, to nutrition, mental health and shopping!

So why are workplace wellbeing schemes being so drastically under-utilised by employees? Even the most ambitiously optimistic providers advertise a maximum of 85% engagement. In reality, a lot of workplace wellbeing schemes see a flurry of activity and interest in the beginning, with engagement waning over time. 

Companies are typically charged by providers on a headcount-basis, meaning that they pay for all staff to have access, regardless of who signs up or who engages with the platform or benefit on a regular basis. 

This can lead to frustration by the employer who perceives their investment to have not been utilised to the best effect, but also frustration from the employee who feels like their employer spent funds on something that didn’t speak to their needs.

We asked ourselves what exactly is workplace wellbeing and does it really matter? If it does, why aren’t employees engaging? 

Workplace wellbeing is generally viewed as encompassing the physical, mental, and emotional health of individuals within an organisation. It goes beyond mere absence of illness or stress and focuses on creating an environment where employees feel happy and supported by their company, so they can thrive personally and professionally. 

Below are some elements that companies will often consider when looking to implement a new wellbeing programme:

  • Physical Health: Physical wellbeing in the workplace involves promoting practices that support a healthy lifestyle. Companies may offer a platform that offers discounted gym membership or access to fitness classes at a range of venues.
  • Mental Health: Employers want to make sure that their staff bring their best selves to work, and understand that supporting their employees’ mental wellbeing is crucial in fostering a healthy work environment. Employers might provide access to counselling, mental health platforms or employee assistance programmes.
  • Emotional Wellbeing: Creating a supportive and inclusive culture where individuals feel valued, respected, and heard is essential to support employees’ emotional wellbeing. 
  • Social Connections: Humans are inherently social beings, and meaningful interactions with colleagues can enhance morale, creativity, and productivity. Employers can facilitate social connections through team-building activities, mentorship programs, and creating spaces for collaboration and interaction.
  • Work-Life Balance: Achieving a healthy balance between work and personal life can make employees feel trusted and valued as people, rather than just a cog in their company machine. Employers can support work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, paid time off, and policies that respect employees' personal commitments and boundaries.

It’s evident that workplace wellbeing is made up of many different elements, some of which will resonate with certain employees but not with others. A busy parent might not have time to make use of a discounted gym membership, for example. Others might just not be interested in health and fitness, or perhaps they live in a more remote area where access to the discounted service provided is simply not feasible.

The uniqueness of an organisation’s employees is a fabulous strength, and something that is being celebrated now more than ever. However, it makes implementing workplace wellbeing programmes which are typically quite narrow in scope, incredibly difficult for businesses. 

Setting up company-wide access to specific advisory services, platforms or wellbeing programmes serves only to exclude individuals who have no interest in that kind of service. And this is the reason why companies don’t see the engagement that they’d hoped for. It’s incredibly unlikely that a platform with a narrow scope would be able to speak to enough staff over a sustained period of time to represent a great return on investment. Typically, businesses need to set up multiple schemes in parallel but this often leads to confusion and an admin headache.

At Juno, we made the conscious decision to not define workplace wellbeing for our staff and for our clients’ staff. We believe that the individual employee is the one who should define what wellbeing means to them. This means taking a step back as a business, putting trust in, and assigning responsibility to your staff to take care of their own wellbeing. 

This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s fundamentally logical. Knowing that your employer trusts that you are the one that understands what is best for yourself sets your wellbeing scheme off on the right foot and shows your employees that you support them as an individual. It also shows that you support their growth and that you understand that their interests and needs are bound to shift from one month to the next. 

One month a member of staff might be doing well, exercising regularly and enjoying their gym subscription. The next month they could really do with being able to speak to someone about their finances or their mental health. A couple of months later they might have taken up a new hobby or have a new interest that they’d like to pursue. 

Once that sinks in, the notion of signing up all employees to the same programme, that typically has a narrow scope, for an entire year becomes a lot less appealing. 

Juno’s mantra has always been “imagine if wellbeing didn’t just mean belly breaths and lunges”, and this still holds true today. For many employees, free yoga or fitness classes are fantastic workplace programmes. For others, they would much rather trade that in to go and play a round of golf, buy a board game, get a massage or any of the other limitless ways that an individual might consider as their view of wellbeing.

Juno puts the power of infinite choice in the hands of your employees. Companies that join Juno reallocate funds from under utilised benefits and put their staff in the driving seat to ensure that their team feels supported and valued.

Juno users get to decide what wellbeing means to them, and this doesn’t just mean they pick from a defined list of pre-approved partners. Juno users can spend their allowance on the things that matter most to them, wherever they are, whatever their interests.

For us, flexibility is the new definition of wellbeing.

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