Gone are the days when employers ruled and employees were just thankful to receive a paycheck. Facing one of the toughest recruiting markets and historically low unemployment rates, organizations are now having to shift their mindsets to providing holistic employee wellness through their employee experience and benefits offerings.
Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Kelsie Davis, Brand Journalist at BambooHR
The Old Social Contract vs. The New Social Contract
In the past, when employees didn’t have as many options and laws didn’t exist to protect them, employers held all the cards. If the boss said you were coming in Saturday, you showed up on Saturday. If your wages were pathetic, you could take it or find the door. Employers owned employees’ time, made demands and expected results no matter the costs.
In today’s market, this mindset is not only abusive and wrong but also terrible for business. You can be best company to work for in the world and still struggle to fill your open roles. If you treat your employees poorly, it’s going to be even harder. You’re also less likely to get thoughtful and creative work out of abused employees.
The new social contract acknowledges the humanity in all of us and focuses on both parties having a responsibility to give and to care. Many employers are taking note and changing the way they treat employees, ensuring they’re providing an employee experience that meets real, human needs.
The American Psychological Association does a survey of employees every year to gauge the state of work and well-being. We can see from the data that in just four years, employers have made significant strides in critical areas of whole-employee well-being:
- My employer values work-life balance: 10 percent increase (52 percent in 2013; 62 percent in 2017)
- My employer provides benefits that allow me to more easily meet my non-work demands: 7 percent increase (30 percent in 2013; 37 percent in 2017)
- My employer helps employees develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle: 8 percent increase (42 percent in 2013; 50 percent in 2017)
Five Areas of Employee Wellness
Before you start revamping your employee experience and benefits to ensure you’re meeting many areas of employee wellness, you will have to decide which areas of wellness are important to your particular employees.
BambooHR’s human resources team does an exceptional job of evaluating whether the organization is meeting the overall needs of employees, and they’ve identified five areas of employee wellness that made sense for our company:
Employees want to excel and grow. As an employer, you should also want them to succeed because 1) you care that their work is fulfilling and 2) you will benefit as a company when they do great work. Start by evaluating whether career benefits like learning and development, performance management, coaching, and more are meeting employees’ needs, and consider which changes you need to make to better meet their needs.
The majority of your employees are stressed about money. You can help employees tremendously by providing benefits that improve their financial fitness. Plus, when employees are less stressed about finances, they perform better. To help employees become more financially savvy, consider investing in benefits like generous 401k matches, access to financial advisors and education classes. One of the first benefits BambooHR offered employees was Financial Peace University—a financial education course.
Your employees have lives outside of the office! Between family responsibilities, philanthropic efforts, hobbies and friends, they likely have a lot going on. Providing the work-life balance that allows them to be active in whichever parts of their community they choose can be extremely attractive. In fact, according to a Gallup study, the top two things employees look for in a job:
1. the ability to do what they do best
2. greater work-life balance and better personal well-being
Consider benefits like reasonable hours, schedule flexibility, working from home and paid volunteer hours to help employees be active participants in their communities. You’ll have less stressed, more well-rounded employees, and they’ll appreciate the increased work-life balance.
Having healthy employees is a goal most organizations share, and healthcare offerings are among the most common benefits. That said, it’s important to customize your health offering to meet your employees’ unique needs. One example: BambooHR offers a supplementary hospital benefit that pays employees $1,000 when they stay overnight in the hospital. This benefit is uniquely valuable to their organization because they have a lot of Bamboo babies born every year. In fact, their benefits provider tells them that the average organization participating in this benefit has 14 babies per year. BambooHR has an average of 40 babies per year.
Consider what your employees might need when it comes to health—additional stress management support, lower overall costs, lifestyle change support—and measure your offerings against these needs.
Social & Emotional Wellness
Taking care of emotional health is just as important as physical health. It’s crucial to have benefits in place that help employees maintain their mental health. Luckily, many organizations already offer an employee assistance program (EAP) that helps employees with mental and emotional health. What’s less common is clear communication about the EAP so employees know what’s available and how to use it. Make sure you provide clear benefits explanations so employees know what resources they have when they need it most. Better yet, make those explanations accessible from anywhere by using HR software.
Just because these are the five areas of wellness that BambooHR tries to cover doesn’t mean your organization should try to meet the exact same ones. Each organization is different. Maybe you’re a really small company and can realistically only tend to two wellness areas. Maybe your employees have different needs than the five wellness areas above. Outline the biggest needs your employees have and use those needs to guide and evaluate the experience your organization is offering.
By providing benefits that meet overall employee wellness needs, you’ll create an employee experience that helps employees be more productive, keeps retention high, and gives you the upper hand in recruiting.
Kelsie Davis is a brand journalist for BambooHR, the leading online HR software used by over 12,000 businesses in more than 100 countries worldwide. Her mission is to help HR create more strategic and impactful initiatives. She does this by researching, analyzing, and writing about all things HR—particularly topics helping HR professionals engage, attract, and maintain employees. Because of their unique ability to influence the most fragile and important asset a company has—its employees—Kelsie believes HR professionals are crucial to company success.