Although many states have given the O.K. to return to the workplace after the stay at home orders earlier this year, providing a safe work environment during the pandemic can be expensive and time-consuming, and not always 100% effective.
That’s why many organizations have adopted a hybrid of remote and on-site work, with specific individuals and departments working on-site and others working remotely.
While working on-site requires symptom tracking, protective barriers and personal protective equipment, alternating work schedules, and social distancing markers, managing a remote workforce also has its challenges.
In this article, we’ll explore what it means to build a culture of wellness with remote and on-site employees, how to recruit and engage wellness champions in any setting, and how peer-to-peer groups can help prevent burnout and improve well-being.
6 Activities to Help Improve Employee Well-Being That Don't Require You To Be In-Person
Being thrust into remote work every single day isn't easy for everyone. The most resilient employees are agile and can quickly adapt to complete tasks, meet deadlines, and attend virtual meetings. Others may take more time to adjust to new or changing conditions.
No matter the speed employees adapt, your organization’s cultural aspects could take a significant hit when life shifts to remote work.
As an HR professional, has it been unnerving when you think about maintaining your culture and promoting wellness while remote and during such uncertain times?
You’re not alone. Here are some ways you can continue or start to build a strong culture of wellness, and encourage employees to stay healthy and resilient, whether they’re working remotely or on-site.
1. Schedule Virtual Learning and Activities That Focus on Wellness
Just because your employees are working remotely does not mean you can’t have meaningful engagement.
Scheduling a series of educational wellness courses or providing group exercise and movement classes during the lunch hour can encourage much-needed breaks throughout the day and keep health and well-being top of mind.
GoToWebinar or even your company's Facebook page can be an easy way to engage employees in these types of virtual get-togethers.
2. Create a Virtual Wellness Challenge for Employees to Get Healthier Together
Whether you’re helping employees cut out soda or hit their step goals, engaging your employees through wellness challenges can undoubtedly help employees build or maintain healthy habits.
By encouraging employees to participate alongside their peers, you also provide a means to stay accountable to their health goals.
Offering incentives to employees who win the competitions adds motivation for all employees to participate and achieve the challenge’s goals.
3. Empower Social Connectedness With Virtual Gatherings
Building and maintaining relationships with and between remote employees requires increased efforts and creativity.
Consider adding five minutes to a standing meeting for non-work-related conversations to make up for the lack of passing conversations in the hallway or the breakroom, or create a social hour (or half-hour) for smaller teams to socialize and build relationships.
4. Communicate With Employees Frequently
Be sure to check in with your employees as often as necessary and encourage them to reach out whenever they’re dealing with work issues or personal matters.
Employees need to know their manager is accessible and committed to their success, and managers need the tools, training and resources to support employees.
There’s no such thing as over-communication when it comes to your employees’ health, well-being, and safety. Whether through email, instant messaging, video chat or company-wide webinars, make sure that employees know the well-being resources available to them and that you communicate any changes to the nature of their work environment or responsibilities clearly and proactively.
5. Engage Your Wellness Champion Network
A wellness champion network is an influential group of employees who work collaboratively to improve their organization’s overall well-being and culture by developing and promoting wellness initiatives.
This is accomplished by socially connecting with others in the organization and educating their colleagues about program offerings and how they can actively participate and benefit from the wellness program.
Implementing a wellness champion network with remote employees requires you to adjust the tasks you deem delegable and give them the opportunities to promote initiatives remotely.
You could ask members of the network to share a personal testimony, video or photo about their well-being journey in a company-wide email, lead group discussions or challenges, send out 1:1 invitations to wellness lunch and learns, or bring up new activities in their weekly or monthly meetings with their teams.
6. Develop Peer-to-Peer Support Groups
Establishing a method for remote workers to actively and consistently engage with their peers through support groups encourages employee resiliency and loyalty and improves emotional well-being.
Socializing with colleagues reminds employees that they are not alone in the tasks (and struggles) associated with daily work responsibilities.
Peer-to-peer support groups can be virtual or in-person. Cleveland Clinic implemented a day-end huddle to help their on-site hospital staff manage their stress and prevent burnout.
The same way that a wellness champion network can foundationally benefit your remote organization, peer-to-peer support groups can positively impact your company in ways that employer-to-employee communications may lack.
We're here to help your workforce and organization thrive while remote and when you return to the office.
COVID-19 opened the door to a new set of challenges for every organization. As employee wellness experts, our utmost mission is to help keep everyone and everything driving forward, even during a pandemic.
Together with the Cleveland Clinic, we’ve assembled free self-help content to help your entire workforce stay healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally - during COVID-19. And we expanded the Cleveland Clinic health coaching offering to provide real-time support and guidance, no matter what challenges or health risks your employees are struggling with.
Learn more about our COVID-19-era wellness programs that provide much-needed support to employees, and don’t rely on biometric screenings on our recent Shortlister “Meet a Vendor” webinar.