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Prioritizing Employee Wellness for a Remote Workforce

Jennifer Siegel March 10, 2021

When we speak with clients, we paint the employee journey as six distinct stages that employees move through once they join an organization. Of course, the experience starts with onboarding and ends with leaving the company. But somewhere in the middle we look at the benefits of maintaining a healthy household. And part of creating that healthy, balanced home is employee wellness.

Employee wellness not only affects how workers perform their job duties—it also sets the foundation for how they feel about their employer.

We have all used the excuse, “too much work, not enough time” when setting aside some hours to see a doctor, exercise, or even take a break. And while the shift to remote work has provided flexibility – especially with school-aged children learning at home – it also means that trips to the gym, mental health breaks, and weekends exploring outside the house are few and far between.

In fact, according to SHRM research, nearly 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic now work on the weekends—and 45% say they regularly work more hours during the week than before. So much time spent working means personal wellness takes a back seat.

And employee wellness doesn’t end at just feeling good physically and mentally— it includes financial wellbeing as well, since this area can be a stressor.

Helping employees maintain their overall health through comprehensive benefits and other programs reduces anxiety, improves productivity, and helps curb healthcare costs for employers. Research shows that organizations that take employee wellbeing seriously experience high-levels of employee retention, increased engagement, and greater employee loyalty.

With the impact of COVID-19, employers need to support employees through unique mental and physical challenges.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Wellness

Not only has physical health taken a back seat, but with today’s “work from anywhere” workforce, in-person interactions are rare. With a lack of physical connections, rates of anxiety, depression, and stress have skyrocketed. In fact, an Evive study from 2020 found that 60% of workers are worried about the stress, loneliness, anxiety, and depression associated with remote work environments.

Navigating our new digital world on the fly is tricky.

Some employers are still struggling to provide employees with sufficient support and wellbeing resources. For example, encouraging regular medical screenings, educating about telehealth, teaching employees about investing, and offering social and mental health support. Another data point in Evive’s study discovered that 33% of employees had only limited communication about available benefits and resources during the crisis. The survey found that nearly half of employees perceived that their employer supported them “less than” or “no more” than usual during the pandemic.

So, where’s the disconnect? HR teams have become the purveyor of real-time data for their organizations. They’ve built robust strategies around benefits, financial wellness, mental health, and more. Yet, they lack a digital communications strategy and the technology necessary to disseminate information to their distributed workforce.

The Role of Automated Messaging

For HR teams to foster employee health and wellness initiatives across a diverse workforce, they must deliver timely, relevant messaging that motivates individuals to take action. A data-driven communications platform that ingests employer claims, pharmacy, and ecosystem data is essential. The platform prioritizes the right message at the right time for the right person using compelling behavioral science principles.

Establishing more personalized communications for employees encourages individuals to take action. For example, when a new hire joins a company that provides a 401(k), they’re reminded to open an account.

However, let’s take this idea one step further.

What if the new employee isn’t aware of the 5% matching program that the employer provides? After enrollment, there’s an opportunity to inform that individual to take advantage of the employer match by raising their contribution.

Not sure the best way to communicate with employees?

Selecting a Data-Driven, Automated Messaging Platform

A platform that enables employees to elect their communication preference (via text, email, or push notification) and change their preferred contact method at any time is key. Employers can then respond to urgent situations, connecting workers to the right information and benefits during their time of need.

The second consideration of your platform: utilize data to segment messaging recipients. The vast majority of employer messaging isn’t relevant to each and every employee. For example, you wouldn’t send messages to all employees about managing chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease. By segmenting audiences, employers ensure employees only receive messages relevant to them.

After relevance comes resonance. By utilizing discrete behavioral science framing principles, the platform sends the same call-to-action in unique ways. Additionally, data science can discover compelling insights and provide measurable results around which employees engage with what messages. This drives ongoing optimization of messages—which means better and earlier engagement.

Finally, pick a platform that enables a one-stop-shop. That means a centralized hub where employees find care, plan choices, partner vendors, and more. The same platform can help onboard a new employee with access to HR forms, company orientation, and even security training. Later in the employee journey, it can equip individuals with resources for career growth—and managers with helpful leadership tips.

Employees deserve a single, consistent source of relevant messaging that includes all benefit resources, especially when employee wellbeing is involved. Employers can distribute the appropriate messages to the right groups, providing employees with crucial information about benefits programs and the peace of mind they need during challenging times.

Looking for more information about employee wellbeing and maintaining a healthy household throughout the employee journey? Check out our blog post, 3 Communication Strategies to Help Your Employees Maintain a Healthy Household.