Culture and the Employee Experience: Wellness

Last time, we considered how development fits into your company’s culture and the Employee Experience (EX). Just as human resource development is one of the most critical investment opportunities available to your company, employee wellness is fundamental to a healthy culture at work. If employees were plants, where development is a bit like fertilizer, wellness can be seen like water: crucial alongside other elements for growth.

Mention wellness and the first thing that springs to mind is probably fitness– possibly an incentive to get a certain number of steps in per day. Physical health is worth promoting, of course, but wellness is more than fitness. Mindfulness, time away from work, work-life balance, camaraderie, financial wellbeing and (perhaps especially) mental health are all crucial to the people at the core of a vibrant work culture.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room: mental health. In too many circles, the notion that people have mental health needs at all is still stigmatized. To be blunt, this needed to stop yesterday.

While people are often less than eager to talk about it, stress and anxiety are major issues for far too many people: studies show between 43 and 94 percent of workers are “often” or “always” stressed, and at least one third of these workers say the stress is detrimental to their health. In 2016, around seven percent of American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode, and depression costs as much as $44 Billion in lost productivity according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Anxiety and stress impact workplace performance, quality of work, and relationships with colleagues and managers, according to at least half of affected employees. Fortunately, 80% of employees treated for mental health issues reported increased productivity and job satisfaction.  Encouraging employees to take care of their mental health and supporting them when they do is not only ethical, it’s effective. 90% of employees believe their wellbeing programs are positive to the culture of their workplaces. When such programs are in place, the benefits are clear: employees who feel supported– because they are– tend to stick around and are more productive as a result of being less stressed. 

A wellness program above and beyond a typical medical plan requires effort and investment but offers ROI beyond a dollar amount– though there is that, too. While different portions of a plan reap varying returns, averaged ROI from wellness programs studied was $1.50 per dollar spent, with portions of those programs returning as much as $3.80.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer additional support with legal, financial, and mental health issues medical insurance and many wellness programs don’t usually cover. While utilization of these programs remains low so far, EAPs offer as much as a 6.47:1 ROI, help employees redirect their energies back to work, and dramatically improve loyalty. EAPs are designed to make reaching out when help is needed easy for employees and HR departments alike, simplifying the process while enhancing EX. 90% of employees believe their wellbeing programs are positive to the culture of their workplaces. When such programs are in place, the benefits are clear: employees who feel supported– because they are– tend to stick around and are more productive as a result of being less stressed.  

There are, of course, other things that can be done to boost wellness and enhance the Employee Experience. Encouraging camaraderie, even by holding the occasional face-to-face meeting instead of relying solely on technology, decreases feelings of isolation and helps people feel more connected as part of workplace culture.

While tools such as AutoAlert’s Pando are indispensable to helping coworkers communicate efficiently, it’s important to get some face time once in a while.

Offering adequate pay and healthcare are great (and crucial to promoting a healthy culture at work), but aren’t the end all of EX.  Mindfulness programs help to reduce stress and increase productivity. Paid leave and promotion of healthy work-life balance are key components of both a positive Employee Experience and a functional, productive culture, but even something as seemingly small as access to natural light can rank higher in importance to employees than fitness centers and or even childcare. While this may not seem like a problem for sales staff who get plenty of daylight in an average dealership workday, don’t forget about Fixed Ops, F&I, BDC employees, or any others who might not. Promoting wellness as part of a healthy, well-rounded culture might require some effort, but the benefits more than validate the investment.

Wellness is worth it. Let’s face it- who wants to buy a vehicle from someone who is stressed out and unhappy?

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