How Extraordinary Leaders Invest in Employee Well-Being

Business leaders who take employee wellness seriously have a major advantage over those who don't. Knowing their workforce is happy and healthy allows them to focus on big-picture strategy and critical operational decisions.

Savvy employers, however, understand employee wellness goes far beyond typical health benefits such as medical and dental coverage or vanity perks like free food. They know the company must go all-in and build a work environment centered on long-term employee well-being. Why? Because they recognize this will make it easier to attract better talent, increase employee retention and foster company loyalty.

Here's how employers can build a workplace dedicated to ensuring employees are happy and healthy.

1. Encourage Work-Life Balance

While mobility supports a flexible workplace, an employee's work-life balance can suffer when they're connected 24/7. The ability to work from a mobile device can create an "always-on" environment where employers expect employees to respond to emails and resolve issues during non-work hours.

Without a healthy equilibrium between their professional and personal lives, employees will quickly burn out, morale will plummet and turnover will skyrocket. It's crucial for employers to support designated "off" times where employees can unplug, forget about work and focus only on themselves.

Another trend that has crept into the workplace is the growth of a stigma around taking time off. Employees will start to resent the company and wonder why they're even offered PTO if they feel pressured to never use their PTO for fear of appearing less dedicated to their job. Encourage your workforce to take vacations away from the office and, again, make sure they stay disconnected during their time off.

Employees work to live, not the other way around. Employers who support employee well-being and their employees' lives outside the office will have a happier, more motivated staff.

2. Promote Workplace Flexibility

Though the concept of workplace flexibility is a few decades old (most sources place its inception and popularization in the 1970s and '80s), surprisingly, many businesses have not embraced it -- or have only embraced it in a limited sense.

Though employees in different generations may not place the same level of importance on workplace flexibility, employees at any stage of life value flexible work arrangements and say having flexible options for work contributes to their happiness at work.

The basic elements of workplace flexibility include allowing employees to choose their own schedules and where they work. Employers also should consider being flexible about how work is completed -- in other words, reevaluating existing processes and incorporating new technologies.

Employers who support workplace flexibility see a decline in absenteeism and employee turnover accompanied by an increase in morale and productivity.

3. Offer Unique Perks

USAA, Quicken Loans and Edward Jones have been featured on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For for 11, 13 and 17 years, respectively. Besides supporting the work-life balance of employees and providing flexible work options, these companies also offer stellar, relatively uncommon benefits:

  • Employees at USAA can take part in a "Healthy Points" wellness program that rewards them with a 5 percent company subsidy to reduce medical premiums. USAA also provides massage therapy, fitness classes and a convenience store on company campuses.
  • Quicken Loans hosts an annual "Pitch Day" where employees pitch their ideas for ways to improve the business to the entire company. The winner receives a paid vacation for two, and runners-up each receive $500 gift cards. The company also offers "Bullet Time," a designated period every week when technology team members get a four-hour period to work on a personal project -- even those unrelated to the business.
  • Edward Jones offers $5,000 in college tuition reimbursement to its employees. It also provides on-site health services such as breast cancer screening, blood pressure screening, cholesterol tests and flu shots at their offices.

Offering perks like these can improve employee satisfaction (and, in turn, improve retention), help your company stand out from your competition and make your business more attractive to top talent.

Your business likely spends a considerable amount of time, effort and budget ensuring the satisfaction of your customers. But are you doing the same for your employees? The more satisfied your employees are, the longer their tenure and the fewer resources you have to invest in recruiting. Depending on the position, replacing a single employee can cost up to $40,000. It's in your best interest to build a work environment dedicated to improving employee well-being.



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