Six steps to help you build a successful workplace health and wellbeing program

well-being, workplace health

Australia has experienced significant change in the workplace over the last 20 years, including digitisation, automation, the gig economy, and recent flexible work policies. Yet, while our work lives appear more ‘flexible’, The Black Dog Institute reports that one in six Australians currently experience mental illness. Depression and anxiety are the leading cause of sickness and long-term incapacity in Australia. With the pandemic compounding health and wellbeing concerns for businesses, we must consider the health and wellbeing of staff as a crucial strategy for business resilience.

Emerging from the lockdowns we asked ourselves how we could help our staff mentally recover from prolonged home isolation. Team cohesion had taken a hit. Our clients were experiencing similar issues: communications breakdowns, staff performance, and team instability. We knew immediate action was required to help our team members. We decided to take action.

When considering factors that drive positive health and wellbeing outcomes for staff, we needed to consider employee access programs (EAPs), HR policy, team-building exercises, mentorship, and other activities that combine to offer supportive experiences. This in turn helps with retention, morale, productivity and more.

By May, we had rolled out our first EAP program to our global team. Feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s what we learned:

Identify team values

When bombarded with programs and ideas from corporate health and wellbeing providers it’s hard to know what will resonate with your team. Subsidised counselling services? A meditation pod? A gaming console? All great ideas, but will staff gain continuous value from these items? Will they grow as individuals?

We found aligning our corporate values with our health and wellbeing initiatives an essential success factor. If a business’s values are geared toward driving successful team culture, then your health and wellbeing program should be underpinned by these virtues.

Engage your team

By talking to staff about what they want, we quickly identified themes that equated to positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Instead of staff surveys, we personally interviewed a cross-section of staff to hear their thoughts on what initiatives would provide the biggest impact. This feedback was inspirational.

Nominate a program leader

Positive endorsements from a program leader help drive engagement in your ongoing programs. Program Leaders should not only believe in the program but should also inspire others to engage with it and lead by example.

Build a policy framework

Incidents that impact staff health and wellbeing are helped greatly through clear policies, providing guidelines for managers to effectively handle each situation. Health and wellbeing programs should be underpinned by comprehensive policies, offering certainty and reassurance to staff.

Employee access programs

Employee Access Program providers (EAPs) exist to provide readily available counselling services to staff. At Newpath, we chose Active & Thriving, including an app that allows staff to engage in private counselling services, share health and wellbeing outcomes and regularly take part in learning activities.

Build, test, measure

Satisfaction surveys, EAP engagement rates, and our app allow us to track progress. Higher up, retention rates, sick leave and customer satisfaction are key indicators that managers should watch.