Organizational culture might seem like an afterthought, something that happens accidentally or over time as a result of hiring certain people. Culture can certainly shift over time, but HR professionals play an important role in attracting the skills and personalities a company needs and preserving the type of culture that helps it be successful.
With COVID-19, employers suffered a culture shock that no one saw coming. Some are considering making remote work permanent, or extending it to a larger share of their workforce, but they may find their organizations’ cultures shifting in undesirable ways. They need help building their culture into one that can be sustained even for workers who only meet virtually.
Health and wellness are things that companies can build a culture around that have clear benefits to their bottom line. Companies that develop a culture of health see returns in the form of lower rates of obesity, poor diet, tobacco and alcohol use, and depression, according to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. They may also see lower prescription drug utilization.
Better health turns into a more productive workforce. A study in Population Health Management found encouraging a healthier culture resulted in productivity gains of $2.30 for every dollar saved in direct health care costs.
Employers have heard the message. Mercer found 70% of larger employers will prioritize creating a culture of health in their workplaces over the next five years. Willis Towers Watson’s 2019 Employee Benefits Survey found 73% of employers will focus on a culture of health over the next three years.
Here are three ways advisors can help organizations stretched thin by COVID-19 promote a culture of health.
- Design wellness programs that give employees what they need. IFEPB found that stress management is a key element in successful wellness programs, and i4cp identified six core elements that employers need to address for worker well-being: career, community, finance, mental and emotional health, physical health and social connections and relationships.
- Foster healthy competition between coworkers. The National Bureau of Economic Research found the average workday has gotten almost an hour longer. Workers are sending and receiving more email, especially after hours, and having more — and bigger — meetings. Encourage workers to take more breaks away from their computers and phones by pitting them against their colleagues in wellness challenges. A friendly rivalry can help renew the camaraderie that was lost when everyone started working from home, according to SHRM.
Collect and analyze data. Using data from employee surveys, claims analytics, health risk assessments and biometric screenings, show clients how their employees’ current health is affecting their business, and help them set new goals.