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The workplace is evolving.
Statistics show that 45% of employees work remotely at least some of the time, a trend that is increasing across industries. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the remote work revolution, challenging traditional workspace values.
However, the sudden growth also ensued issues like social disconnection, a poor work-life balance, and decreased mental health. Now, employees must engage in new wellness challenges for remote workers to inspire better habits and reduce the repercussions of working from home.
Although a small number of high-profile companies have scaled back their work-from-home benefits in the last few years, remote employees remain a significant part of the workforce. For many people, especially younger workers, flexible scheduling and remote opportunities aren’t just sought-after. They’re a must.
Thus, finding new and creative ways to engage remote populations is an essential challenge for wellness providers.
The Impact of Remote Working on Employee Wellness
As companies adjust their policies and management approach to remote working, it’s necessary to consider what this would mean for their employees’ well-being.
A survey by the American Psychiatric Association pointed out considerable wellness challenges for remote employees in the post-pandemic world. According to the poll, most remote workers felt isolated and lonely. They also struggled with their mental health and found it challenging to end the workday.
Another concerning issue is burnout syndrome. Since remote workers can’t maintain their work-life balance, they get stressed and experience burnout. And even though employers are becoming more accommodating to their employees’ mental health, 48% of the respondents still worry about getting fired if they take days off for their well-being.
That shows that work from home tends to have distinctive challenges despite its many benefits.
By using out-of-the-box wellness ideas, companies can tackle this issue and engage their workers in activities from home. Thus, an excellent virtual well-being program can go a long way in minimizing the impact of remote working on employee wellness.
The Importance of Wellness Activities for Employees
Companies implement wellness programs to attract and retain top talent and keep their employees happy in the long run.
Investing in employees’ well-being can increase job satisfaction and improve productivity. Good physical and mental health help workers deal with feeling stressed, anxious, or isolated. So, the right thing to do for organizations is to implement wellness activities for employees, including those operating remotely. It’s also a good opportunity for workers to take some time off, socialize with colleagues, or relieve stress.
However, the employer-sponsored perks and initiatives workers enjoyed in the pre-pandemic world are due for some much-needed adjustments. Team activities and fun office perks are limited and exclude those that work from home. Companies now must find a middle ground and acclimate both sides.
And although wellness challenges for remote workers are still a somewhat new thing, the remote-hybrid work model pushes employers to be creative and rethink their approach. They are now considering new solutions to engage their workers and turning to virtual wellness programs instead.
Tips to Engage Remote Employees in Well-Being Initiatives
The lack of physical collaboration can be a big issue with remote work wellness. A one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t work, and what remote employees want and can do is significantly different from their colleagues in the office.
Nonetheless, employers can efficiently manage any workplace wellness challenges with the correct approach.
Here are some practical virtual wellness ideas employers can use to engage all of their remote workers.
1) When Possible, Bring On-Site Activities Online
The biggest obstacle is that companies can’t share every activity with remote workers in real-time. However, introducing technology to employees’ well-being programs offers alternative wellness challenges for remote workers.
For example, when they plan on-site seminars or lunch-and-learn events, managers and team leaders can provide a dial-in option or live video to participate and ask questions.
Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Drive made the transition to remote work much smoother, even with employees working across different time zones.
Another helpful way is to offer virtual wellness packages and subscriptions to group activities. So, for example, instead of physically attending yoga, meditation, or other employer-sponsored initiatives, they can do it online. Using these team-based activities can help remote employees feel less secluded and allow them to socialize with their coworkers.
2) Make Physical & Mental Health Care More Accessible
Both mental and physical health are equally important, especially in the post-pandemic workplace.
In terms of physical well-being, biometric screenings and flu vaccinations are vital wellness initiatives, and many employers offer incentives for completion.
Companies should provide employees with voucher options covering the broadest possible geographic area with remote workers in mind.
A vendor who offers such solutions should be able to provide an access report based on zip code, extend as many options as possible, and insist on clear, detailed communications.
Additionally, employers can turn to online health care services as a convenient option, especially for remote workers, like on-demand virtual doctors and emergency hotlines.
As for mental well-being, all employees (including remote workers) can utilize various mental health benefits, including telehealth services, online therapy, and counseling.
3) Create Targeted Communications
According to a Gallup analysis, recognition has a positive effect on employees. The research shows that when employers use honest, authentic, and individualized acknowledgment, it boosts employee productivity and loyalty. Knowing that the company makes an effort to address its employees’ needs could increase engagement in well-being initiatives.
When the company uses the same communication approach with all employees, it loses a significant opportunity to engage the remote population.
So, organizations should opt for targeted pieces for all workforce segments and include details specific to their experience as remote employees.
4) Recruit & Engage Remote Wellness Champions
Having social support and encouragement can inspire healthier habits and behaviors. So, an out-of-the-box wellness idea would be to create a wellness champion network.
Wellness champions are the company’s boots-on-the-ground motivated employees who encourage others to participate, provide valuable feedback, and help augment traditional communications.
Usually, as an influential group, they collaborate to increase the overall workplace wellness.
However, remote wellness champions would give their insight and perspective on what it means to work from home and what type of initiatives are more likely to engage other remote workers.
5) Design Well-Being Campaigns That Draw People Together
If the organization offers wellness challenges for remote employees, they should assign participants to teams that include both in-office and remote staff across all departments. It’s a great way to promote camaraderie and encourage people to meet their peers.
Because remote employees are often read (in email) or heard (on conference calls), photo-sharing campaigns are also very effective.
The point is to develop wellness programming that connects all employees wherever they may be and create an active work community that’s easily accessible for both parties, online or in person.
On a Final Note
Digital health services, virtual team-based activities, and strengthening the employee support system are just some of the things companies can do to take care of remote employees.
Offering such benefits and implementing wellness challenges for remote workers helps organizations transform the traditional workplace and improve company growth. It’s also an excellent way for employees to engage in fun and attainable activities that enhance their daily habits, job satisfaction, and overall health.
Written by Matthew Benton
Director of Communications at Wellness Corporate Solutions
- “Remote Work Persisting and Trending Permanent” by Gallup
- “As Americans Begin to Return to the Office, Views on Workplace Mental Health Are Mixed” by American Psychiatry Association
- “Work-life Balance Prevents Burnout” by Assure Programs
- “Engaging Remote Employees in Their Health and Workplace Wellness Programs” by CDC
- “Wellness And The Future Of Work: Some Of The Best Companies Share Their New Solutions” by Forbes
- “Ideas For Wellness Challenges (That Employees Won’t Hate)” by BetterUp
- “Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact” by Gallup
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