More on how to systematically implement a well-being programme at your organisation

A well-being programme is a journey. It is not something you can set up once and forget; it is a set of conscious and consistent long-term choices that you make for your employees.
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Aruna is a bright, young HR leader at a fast-growing tech startup. When the pandemic hit, she and her team worked overtime to implement a host of employee care programmes — psychological counselling, support groups, mental and physical wellness sessions, financial assistance, vaccine camps, and much more.

But guess what happened in the last two to three months? As the pandemic receded and cases fell, the initiative ran out of wind. The lessons of the last 18 months were more or less forgotten and the high-pressure, target focussed style of working returned. People were ordered to immediately return to the office and work overtime to make up for the slow growth of the previous year.

This prompted many employees to seek new opportunities outside the company. To Aruna’s dismay, the gains made in terms of employee engagement, work satisfaction, and emotional health also began to fall.

In our work with organisations, we often stress on the fact that a well-being programme is a journey. It’s not something you implement once and forget; it’s a set of conscious and consistent long-term choices that you make for your employees.

Here’s how to ensure that your organisation implements its well-being strategy for long-term gains.

1. Tailor it to your business or industry’s needs

Every company or industry has its own specific risks or obstacles to employee well-being. In the call centre industry, dealing with difficult customers day in and out can be stressful for employees. For aviation or healthcare personnel, working 12-hour shifts with little sleep is a challenge.

Many industries have desk-bound workers whose health suffers due to their sedentary lifestyles. Knowing the challenges peculiar to your company or industry is the first step towards tailoring well-being initiatives to address those challenges.

2. Ask your people

Encourage employees to voice the challenges or issues important to them. You can organise an employee survey, a townhall meeting, or an organisation-wide campaign and get suggestions on how to address the challenges in line with the company’s expectations and goals.

You can also conduct well-being assessments either one-on-one or within small groups (within a confidential setting) to understand the issues at an individual or team level.

3. Draft a written well-being policy

Use the above data to start putting together your well-being policy.

Make sure the policy:

  • is aligned to your company culture and goals,
  • is based on hard data,
  • mentions the well-being metrics to be tracked
  • lists timelines for all initiatives
  • assigns clear owners across departments
  • is consistent and aligned with other policies, e.g., benefits, insurance, appraisals, etc.
  • has the commitment and buy-in of the leadership.

4. Target specific areas

Rather than having a one-size-fits-all policy, try to zoom in on the team or individual-specific issues that you want to address.

For example, a workshop on people management skills might benefit a large set of employees, but some others might benefit more from lessons on managing work-life balance issues. A better way is to design targeted inputs depending on people’s well-being profile or the findings from the well-being assessments.

5. Rope in the leaders

Leaders play a critical role in driving adherence to well-being initiatives. By demonstrating well-being behaviours, such as self-care and care for others, appreciation for their colleagues or democratic decision-making, they can ensure these behaviours rub off on others.

Also, leaders need to be seen participating in well-being workshops or events themselves so that it gets ingrained in the company’s culture.

6. Talk to your people about well-being benefits

Once the policy is in place, make sure it is communicated well so that everyone is aware of the options and benefits available to them – whether it is extended maternity or paternity leave, mechanisms to handle conflict or harassment, in-house emotional or financial counselling, health-related workshops and others.

Communicating frequently and clearly improves the chances of people actually using and benefiting from the programme.

7. Keep building on the programme

We saw in Aruna’s example that the organisational commitment to well-being was short-lived, which eventually brought them back to square one. It’s important for employers to keep reiterating their focus on well-being even after the ‘immediate’ issue has passed.

And remember, patience is key. Well-being programmes may take time to yield results, so keep tweaking and refining yours as needed. Or rope in an expert third-party who can audit and fine-tune your well-being programme for you.

We hope that the above points helped you understand the principles of effective well-being programme implementation.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)