Post written by ATDChi member Lisa Erlich. This article is part of a series of member written content on Career Development in Talent Development.
DE&I. Hybrid teams. Wellness. You may have noticed that the white-hot spotlight of success is focusing on these three initiatives. I’m guessing you’ve noticed.
Yes, many companies already have substantial DE&I and Wellness programs that were created prior to the pandemic. And no one can predict what teams and offices will look like in the short- and long-term.
While overwork, healthy lifestyles and burnout concepts are not new, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that wellness needs to be front-and-center for employees, and organizations, to flourish.
So what are we talking about exactly?
According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, workplace wellness programs tend to focus on 5 key pillars: Physical Wellness (nutrition and exercise), Emotional Health (feelings and coping with challenges) Intellectual Wellness (learning from past experiences & seeking growth), Occupational (personal satisfaction and healthy balance) and Social (interactions with others).
Programs can run the gamut from covering the cost of gym memberships, offering in-office or online weekly yoga sessions, initiating team exercise challenges, or partnering with mental wellness apps like Thrive Global or Calm.
And these offerings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to Grand View Research’s Corporate Wellness Market Size & Share Report, 2021-2028, the global corporate wellness market size was valued at 52.8 billing (USD) in 2020 and is expanded to grow 7% (CAGR) by 2028.
Learning & Development and Wellness
Learning & Development strategy, by definition, should be driven by both employee needs and organizational goals. For Wellness programs to succeed, they too, need to be strategic and tied to business goals and employee practice. So how can Learning & Development teams support a Wellness strategy?
Like any other corporate objective, no Wellness program will succeed without a singular, yet two-pronged, approach.
Holistic Transparency: It has to be visible in the company commitment, culture norms, manager support and individual engagement.
2. Multi-level Leadership Support: From the C-Suite to line managers to team leads, leaders must lead by example – participate, give permission, and discuss Wellness.
Let’s look at some of the simple, yet impactful, actions your Learning & Development team can implement to support your existing, or upcoming wellness program.
Onboarding: Set expectations early by presenting your wellness offering from the beginning. When both HR and managers are discussing it with new hires (what it is, who should participate, what does that look like on individual team) it becomes an integrated cultural norm.
For individuals: Employees need to identify their feelings, why and what they can do about them – as well as the skills to communicate those needs. L&D can provide in-person or online courses or on-demand resources that support:
Self-Assessment (burnout, stress, financial wellbeing, peer/work engagement) and what to do with those results.
· Self-Leadership/Empowerment/Growth Mindset: Give employees the language and resources to ask for help (stress, re-prioritizing projects, meeting times, flexible work hours)
For Leaders: As mentioned above -- and it bears repeating -- the experience and communication has to come from the top down. Leaders must “give” employees permission to participate -- talk about it at an all-hand meeting, mention their own participation in an upcoming yoga class, reiterate where resources can be found online.
In a 2016 study by HealthFitness, where they surveyed 465 employees from companies offering health, wellness and fitness programs, 41% of employees didn’t participate at all. When asked why, 53% of these nonparticipants cited cultural barriers such as lacking employer’s support to take part.
While the role of Leadership is to bring visibility to and normalization the Wellness program, the role of the Manager is to support and help individuals engage in it. Many don’t know how. L&D can help.
For Managers: Consider this multi-layered development structure.
- Add Wellness to Management Development:
- Identifying burnout/stress/disengagement/zoom fatigue and strategies to address it.
- Coaching to help employees re-prioritizing projects, identify ongoing productivity needs (how do they work best/when do they to set aside time to focus on work vs meetings vs personal priorities)
- Encouraging employees to plan vacation and take off.
- Double-down on Empathy training & practice in Management Development.
- Link Wellness & Empathy as part of Team-Building workshops.
- Leverage existing meetings to take time to share wins and kudos, do pulse checks, have show and tell.
- Help managers define their own expectations:
- Do they have an open-door policy?
- What is their and their employee’s preferred method of communication?
- When/how quickly should employees respond to emails? And vice versa.
- Can employees block out time to work (i.e. no-meeting zones)? Will they, as a team, determine what that looks like?
Bring It Home
As companies turn the focus toward health, gaining new voices and living in a new work culture, People are at the heart of what it takes to succeed. Learning & Development professionals have always known this. Our job continues to be empowering individuals, leaders, and organizations by giving them the personal and professional resources to do what’s right to succeed on all levels.
Lisa Erlich has been an innovator and thought leader in the Learning & Development space for more than a decade. She lives in the suburbs north of Chicago with her husband, 2 boys and dog. Reach out to Lisa at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-erlich-b9577663/
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