Fostering a Culture of Care: Strategies for Business Leaders to Prioritize Employee Well-Being

Fostering a Culture of Care
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels

By Indiana Lee

Maintaining a positive company culture should be among your company’s priorities. When you make genuine efforts to establish the best possible environment for workers, the payoffs for everyone involved can be significant. One key area of focus should be to foster a culture of care.

This involves putting protocols in place to demonstrate you’re prioritizing your workers’ health. A culture that shows genuine care for employees has a range of advantages. Obviously, a healthier workforce tends to be more productive with less absenteeism. But also, one study found that organizations with health programs have lower rates of turnover than those without.  

So, how can you effectively prioritize employee well-being? Let’s explore some solid approaches.

Provide Impactful Benefits

Benefits have become a focus for employees as of late. Certainly, amidst the challenges of the Great Resignation, it’s vital to show your workers that you value them. One of the ways you can do this is by providing them with benefits that demonstrate your care for their well-being. Not to mention that they are a great investment in reducing absenteeism and productivity disruptions.

Many of the best benefits you can offer workers today have direct and indirect positive impacts on wellness. 

Some to consider include: 

    • Access to comprehensive health insurance: This means workers have the resources to address illnesses and injuries. This should include coverage for both physical ailments and mental health challenges. 
    • Flexible paid time off (PTO): This gives your staff the freedom to rest and achieve a healthy work-life balance. PTO is a vital resource for workers’ mental and physical wellness while also bolstering workplace productivity
    • Flexible schedules: Many workers find juggling personal and work duties to be stressful. This tends to be worse when workplace schedules are so rigid that workers are forced to make decisions between getting paid and taking care of personal needs. Flexible schedules can relieve a little of the pressure here, which in turn may reduce the negative mental and physical impact.
  • Gym memberships: Exercise is a key part of maintaining physical and mental health. By offering access to gym memberships, you’re removing financial barriers to your workforce keeping fit.

Remember, though, that each workforce has varying needs. Take the time to regularly reach out to your staff to get an understanding of how effective they feel these benefits are. The closer you can get to meeting your workers’ wellness needs, the more likely your package is to bolster a culture of care.

Adjust the Working Environment

Your workers have to spend several hours every day within the workspace. Therefore, as part of your culture of care, your company has a duty to ensure this space is optimized for wellness. This should certainly begin with regular assessments to establish that there are no physical hazards. However, you can go further with steps that include:

  • Calming surroundings: The design of the office space can have an impact on workers’ mental wellness. It’s worth investing in surroundings that induce a sense of calm. Utilize earth tones in furniture colors and wall decorations. If you’re in a city, adopt sound-reduction tools that prevent outside noise from entering the office. Indeed, providing a dedicated quiet space for decompressing can be valuable, too. 
  • Air filtration and purification: Poor air quality can trigger allergies, cause irritation, and even contribute to long-term health issues. You can combat this by investing in good ventilation systems and even high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. 
  • Remote and hybrid working options: In some instances, the office may not be the most healthy environment for all workers to operate in. Therefore, you could consider introducing remote or hybrid working options. This enables your employees to work from a space that they feel is conducive to their wellness. Not to mention it supports a good work-life balance.

Remember, too, that workers may need individual environmental adjustments to boost their wellness. Make it clear that you’re open to taking requests for reasonable changes. This may be orthopedic furniture or blue light filters for screens. Importantly, make certain these options are available for remote workers as well as those in the office.

Offer Practical Resources

Maintaining wellness tends to be a little easier when the steps are convenient and easy to manage. Therefore, one route to fostering a culture of care is to offer practical wellness resources to your employees. This isn’t about taking responsibility for their wellness on their behalf. Rather, it’s about implementing a few practical tools that make managing health simpler.

Food

Traditionally, the food in workplaces isn’t exactly healthy. Celebrations tend to involve cake. Managers may reward workers with the occasional pizza. Even the lunch room tends to be populated by vending machines that have junk foods and drinks. Instead, aim to provide only good quality items. This could include foods that are known to boost immunity. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C and yogurt can help balance gut health. For sweet treats, dark chocolate contains magnesium and iron, which supports a strong immune system.

Telehealth

The health benefits you provide can help the affordability of quality care. However, heading off to a doctor isn’t always practical. Staff may have to try and squeeze appointments between work and family duties. Therefore, offering workers access to telehealth doctor’s appointments — including therapists — can be a great tool. These remote sessions mean staff can get timely medical attention that disrupts neither their personal schedule nor workplace productivity. Wherever possible, offer staff a private room in which they can attend these appointments if they would like to.

On-Site Risk Assessments

Early intervention is vital to minimize negative health outcomes. However, if your staff have busy schedules, they may not always be able to make time for yearly checkups and assessments. Therefore, you could work with local health providers to offer your staff regular on-site risk assessments. These involve medical professionals asking lifestyle and wellness-related questions of staff and performing a few examinations. These professionals then provide your workers with advice related to the health risks they face and any current symptoms they should seek further testing or treatment for.

Focus on Education

Often, the best health resources you can give your staff are those that empower them to help themselves. This isn’t just about benefits or access to healthy food. Reliable and actionable information is important too. As a result, part of your efforts to foster a culture of care should be to provide health education tools.

These could include:

  • Guest speakers: Collaborate with local public health organizations to arrange talks on key areas of physical and mental health. Don’t make attendance mandatory, but providing these optional sessions can be useful.
  • Health literature: Gather reliable literature — such as leaflets and posters — that provide simple guidance on wellness. This could include advice on seasonal issues, such as avoiding colds and the flu in winter. Place these in accessible areas, such as the lunch room or other communal spaces.
  • Links to videos: Videos can be a great medium to share health education. Curate a selection of these and place links to them on the company intranet or shared cloud platform. This enables workers to view them at their leisure.

Above all else, remember that the credibility of your health education resources is essential. Ensure all your efforts are driven by reliable experts in their fields. Commit to researching their backgrounds so that your workers’ health isn’t negatively affected by misinformation and biases.

Conclusion

Fostering a culture of care requires some focus and investment, but it has positive outcomes for everyone involved. Providing a solid range of benefits, creating a healthier workplace, and offering both practical resources and education are good starting places. However, it’s also vital to meaningfully involve your workforce in supporting their wellness. They are likely to know where the prevalent challenges are and offer insights into what your health programs are missing. Importantly, collaborating with workers demonstrates that you not only care about their wellness but also their perspectives on the matter. This can bolster the relationships between your workers and your business in the years to come.

About the Author

Indiana LeeIndiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. An expert on business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle.

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