we are hiring with megaphone

Strategies for Hiring Veterans

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

So, you’ve heard about the host of benefits that having veterans in your workforce can bring to the organization. Your HR team has made the case and leadership is on board. Now, it’s time to get to work attracting this desirable talent. What should you be doing to get ahead of the competition in this tight hiring market? Let me share some insights I have gleaned in my decades of HR experience.

Here are 5 strategies I use with my clients to execute their veteran hiring initiatives.

1. Set the Foundation

Recruiting veterans starts with making sure that your organization is a great place to work. Just like other potential hires, veterans want to work for companies that have a good reputation and a strong brand. So it’s important that you build a desirable culture through things like transparency, clear values and mission that align with employees, diversity, visible and accessible leadership, professional development opportunities, celebration of wins, a sense of community, and trust. Be sure to promote your company as military friendly and ensure that you have dedicated support for veterans. Highlight current veterans in your workforce so potential hires see your commitment. Once you have the right culture in place, promote messaging about it through all your communications.

2. Create a Veteran Hiring Program

Develop your vision for veteran hires, then put it into writing so that you have formal policies and procedures in place. Be sure to address topics like your hiring needs, skills required for the open positions, overarching organizational goals, training, and ROI. Consider creating a separate military hiring webpage.

3. Tap into Leadership

Once your plan is in place, engage senior leadership and identify those who can provide the necessary support and champion the initiative. Make sure they understand the value this untapped talent pool brings to the table, as well as how the skills and attributes gained during military service translate to business needs and goals.

4. Spread the Word

Let others know that you are actively hiring veterans through virtual hiring events, job fairs, on-base events, military job boards (such as military.com’s Career Channel, hirevetsfirst.gov, and helmetstohardhats.org), military newspapers and websites, your business networks, and across your social media channels. 

5. Reassess Your Interviewing Process

Unlike traditional job candidates, veterans don’t tend to promote themselves during job interviews. Considering their military experience as working as part of a team, they usually tamp down the self-promotion and shy away from elaborating on their accomplishments or responsibilities. Because of this, interviewers need to shift techniques when meeting with veterans to a behavioral or situational interview style. This will enable the interviewer to more easily elicit relevant information. Focusing on asking to share stories and avoiding closed-ended questions will prove most beneficial. And most importantly, educate recruiters on how to really dive into veteran resumes so they can translate military skills into business skills.

Hopefully these strategies will help your organization develop and execute a more effective veteran hiring initiative. 

 

business person and veteran

Building a Business Case for Hiring Veterans

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

Later this month we will be celebrating Hire a Veteran day. Because hiring from this group brings so much to the table, I want to expand the spotlight to shine on more than a single day on the calendar. I think it’s so important to share with employers the benefits leveraging this talent pool offers their organizations every day.

Improving the Bottom Line

Wise business leaders recognize the value of having veterans in their workforce. So much so, that 250+ companies joined the Veterans Jobs Mission coalition, which is committed to hiring 1 million veterans by 2025. These businesses, which represent virtually every industry in the U.S. economy, include companies like Amazon, American Express, Hershey’s, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan and Home Depot. The list goes on and on, underscoring the benefits that come from hiring those in the military. Plus there are many other businesses that are not part of the coalition, which have their own initiatives for hiring and supporting veterans, such as Walmart and Starbucks. 

Let’s explore why these businesses are making veteran hiring practices a priority. 

Productivity and Performance

The skills and attributes veterans developed during their time in service increase performance and productivity. How? Well for starters, their military experiences have already provided these men and women with real-life leadership skills. Additionally, veterans are used to working in teams to achieve a common goal, and they understand how multiple teams work together towards an overarching objective. And, because they are trained to analyze all information before making a decision, veterans are capable of making the best choice available when looking at the options. These skills and attributes – in addition to any technical abilities mastered – go a long way in boosting productivity and performance.

Brand Reputation

There’s a lot of goodwill that goes along with hiring veterans. A survey from Just Capital and The Harris Poll found that 87% of respondents believe companies have a role to play in actively recruiting veterans to their workforces. And it seems, according to the survey results, that veteran hiring initiatives also impacts purchasing decisions. 

Diversity

A diverse workforce boosts creativity and innovation. Having teams of individuals of varying backgrounds, perspectives and experiences expands the opportunity for new ideas and processes. Studies show that organizations with a diverse workforce enjoy higher revenues.

Cost Savings

Hiring veterans can also save businesses money. One study from the CEB Corporate Leadership Council found that, on average, veterans perform at higher levels and are less likely to leave a company. According to the study “for a company of 1,000 employees with 25 percent military veteran new hires, cost savings amounted to a whopping $325,000 per year.”   

Filling Talent Needs

Hiring overall is a top challenge for businesses in today’s climate. With nearly 200,000 transitioning service members entering civilian life each year, veterans are an untapped source. Organizations just need to read between the lines on the resume to see how military service experience can translate into valuable business skills and attributes.

Additional Financial Incentives

While all of the above benefits work to boost performance and productivity for financial gains, there are also some tax incentives that businesses may be eligible for when they hire veterans. The Work Opportunity Tax Credits provides up to $5,600 for each unemployed veteran hired, and up to $9,600 for each veteran with a service-related disability hired.

Let me sum up this business case for hiring veterans with a quote from Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.:

“We have to compete for workers. The military is a great place to find talent. [In the military] they learn how to show up. How to be a team. How to respond. If they don’t do their job, someone could be seriously injured. They learn logistics, communication, sharing ideas, analyzing reports, cybersecurity. Give them a chance.”

hire me i'm a military veteran

Why Hiring Veterans is Good for Business and for America

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

With July 4th upon us, we can’t help but think of those who have made our freedom possible. We celebrate them with parades, firework shows, and barbeques. But, how can we give back to them? How can we show our appreciation for everything they have sacrificed for our country? I believe one way we can thank a veteran is to help them transition into civilian life by hiring them. It’s good for the soul, good for the country, and, quite honestly, it’s also good for business. 

Nearly 200,000 transitioning service members enter civilian life each year. And the experience these veterans gained during their time in the military makes them ideal candidates for all types of positions, in all kinds of businesses, of all sizes. Unfortunately, many employers look at the resume of a veteran and are unable to see how the skills and training these men and women received can benefit their business. This is a terrible lost opportunity, for the hiring company and the veteran. As a human resource professional with 20+ years’ experience, I’m here to explain how those military job descriptions translate into real, practical capabilities that can boost your bottom line and help you address your hiring and retention challenges.

Increased Performance

During their military careers, veterans acquire a wide variety of expertise and skill sets that they can bring to organizations, which can enhance performance and culture. 

Leadership.

As military personnel rise up in the ranks, they take on more leadership roles. Even those as young as their early 20s may be training and overseeing teams. During their time in the military, they are making decisions, planning, and providing guidance to their subordinates. So when you hire a veteran, you are gaining a worker with real-life leadership skills already in place.

Teamwork.

No man is an island in the military. In the end, it’s all about the team working together toward a common goal. While military personnel are encouraged to take initiative, their duties are a blend of individual and group productivity. In addition, they learn how groups relate to each other in relation to an overarching objective. 

Trainability.

Since their first day in the military, veterans were being trained. And, over the course of their military career, they are expected to continuously learn and develop – from following orders and completing tasks to taking initiative and responsibility. Trainability and ownership are traits you want in your workforce.

Decision-Making.

As mentioned above, the military builds leaders. How do they do that? By training recruits to analyze all information before making a decision. This training has afforded veterans the ability to make the best choice available when looking at the options. 

Goal-Oriented.

Business is all about setting goals – project, production, sales. The military is extremely focused on goal achievement. Their members are trained to concentrate on the mission at hand and then work together as a team to achieve the targeted goal.

Studies show that veterans’ contributions to a company boost performance and reduce costs. One such study found that, on average, veterans perform at higher levels and are less likely to leave a company. According to the CEB Corporate Leadership Council, “for a company of 1,000 employees with 25 percent military veteran new hires, cost savings amounted to a whopping $325,000 per year.”   

Veterans Are an Untapped Talent Pool

According to the Department of Labor, there were 386,000 unemployed military veterans across the United States last year. That number, combined with the couple hundred thousand members leaving the military every year, is quite a large potential pool of talent to pull from – something to seriously consider in this current hiring crisis. And when you add in the skills and work ethic associated with this group, you have untapped prospective workers that are good for your business. Plus, you will be helping a veteran make use of the skills they acquired in a civilian role, while at the same time decrease the unemployment numbers.  

So during this time when you are feeling a bit patriotic, I urge you to think beyond the barbeques and fireworks celebrations and consider how hiring a veteran can simultaneously help them and your bottom line.

 

you belong here sign

How to Create a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

By Nicole Martin

 

When it comes to DEI&B, so much focus is put on the first three aspects: diversity, equity and inclusion. But the B – belonging – is the secret sauce for making the DEI initiatives work. While the D, E and I are critical, they simply aren’t enough on their own. If your teams don’t feel like they belong, then your DEI initiatives will fall flat. My favorite way to approach DEI&B is this quote from Verna Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Belonging is when the DJ plays your song request.” 

To drive innovation, boost productivity and attract/retain the talent you need, prioritizing the B is a must! Leading organizations create cultures where people are comfortable disagreeing with an idea and willingly share their perspectives; this is what drives creativity. And when people believe they work for companies whose values and missions align with their own, they’re more productive. 

According to a study by BetterUp, “high belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.”

These findings are bolstered by the 2022 Workplace Belonging Survey, which found that 88% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that a sense of belonging leads to higher productivity at work.

The lesson to be learned: a positive culture that is welcoming to everyone has a positive effect on the bottom line. When employees feel they belong, they are more productive, motivated and engaged.

But What Does a Sense of Belonging Actually Mean? 

Based on the Workplace Belonging Survey responses, workers say it means “having their perspective and/or contributions valued by their colleagues and superiors (64%) and working in an environment where they feel accepted (64%).”

The BetterUp data revealed belonging is related to mattering, identification, and social connection. 

In a nutshell, belonging is the feeling of being valued, accepted and included.

Building a Culture of Belonging

I help companies create better workplaces by building and enhancing DEIB initiatives, in essence weaving them into the fabric of their cultures. While adding the B to the acronym is something new, creating a sense of belonging is far from it. Over the course of my career, even before the B was formally added to the acronym, I have strategized with leadership on creating welcoming environments for all workers. Here are the actions I have found effective.

1. Implement Diversity Training

Create a training program that educates your workforce on differences (ethnic, gender, neurodiverse, etc.). I find it’s important to tailor the programs to employees and leadership so you can effectively address the issues specific to them.

2. Use Inclusive Language

So that everyone feels included, shift from using he/she to they in your workplace. Inclusive language helps workers feel safe and accepted.

3. Involve Leadership

Culture flows from the top down, so it’s important to make sure leaders are walking the walk and not just talking the talk. They need to ensure that employees feel seen, valued, understood and welcome. 

4. Create an Environment of Open Communication

You want your employees to feel secure enough to share ideas and perspectives, let leadership know how they are doing, and call attention to diversity issues so that they can be addressed.

5. Create networks.

Demonstrate recognition and support of differences by welcoming interest groups. Creating these groups also provides opportunities to identify ways to improve your inclusive initiatives. 

Don’t neglect the need of your employees to feel included. Take action now.

former employee welcome back note

Benefits of Rehiring Former Employees

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

If you’re like many companies, chances are you’re struggling to fill positions. You have your HR teams strategizing together on how to attract the right talent. You’re boosting your employer branding efforts and devising new benefits packages. But nothing’s working. You need skilled talent now and you’re out of ideas. 

This might sound crazy, but have you thought about reaching out to the employees who left during the pandemic to see if they would be interested in returning? A recent Harris Poll survey found that one in five of people who resigned during the pandemic say they regretted it. If you’ve significantly improved culture, enhanced benefits, and created a better work-life balance for your employees since their departure you might be able to entice them back and solve some of your talent issues.

You’re probably thinking, “Would they really come back?” You never know. According to LinkedIn, “boomerang” employees accounted for 4.5% of all new hires among companies on the platform in 2021. This statistic, combined with the 20% who regret quitting, should be enough to get you considering the benefits of reaching out to potential rehires.

The Positives of Rehiring Former Employees

Here are some pros to consider:

You already know about their work ethic and skill sets. 

Since you have a history, you wouldn’t be hiring the unknown. You are aware of their work ethic and whether they have the ability to get the job done.

It’s cost effective. 

When you hire a former employee, there is less training – or perhaps no training – required. And because they are already familiar with the position and the company, the onboarding time is significantly cut. This reduces overall costs.

Rehiring can boost morale. 

When former employees return to the company, they are showing that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. 

As an HR professional, I always stress to my clients that it’s important to leave the door open because you never know where the relationship may lead. To that end, I recommend:

  • Creating a positive exit experience so that employees leave feeling supported.
  • Explicitly telling the exiting employee that if things don’t work out in the new job that the door is open to returning.
  • Stay in touch with former employees by sharing company and workforce news.
  • Keep track of prior employees through a CRM system.

Have you rehired any employees who left during the pandemic? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.

 

lgbtq flag

LGBTQ Owned Business Certification – The Why’s & How’s

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

You may have heard about certification programs for small businesses, as well as for businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. But there is also a lesser known certification that we are excited to bring to your attention: LGBTQ+ owned businesses. 

This certification was first created by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) back in 2004 as a way to improve the economic equality of LGBT business owners. And since then, the number of certified businesses has truly grown. The Certified LGBTQ2+ Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTQ2+BE®) certification is now used by over 1/3 of Fortune 500 and federal, state, and local government supply chains nationwide. 

Criteria for Becoming a Certified LGBTBE

The requirements for becoming certified are pretty straightforward:

  1. The business is at least 51% owned, operated, managed and controlled by a person or persons who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  2. The business is independent of any non-LGBTQ+ enterprise.
  3. The business is headquartered in the United States.
  4. The business is a for-profit organization.

Jurisdictions Recognizing LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses in Pool of Suppliers

The NGLCC, which is a third party certification body, is the main source for businesses wishing to be certified. Their designation helps businesses stand out to those organizations looking to increase their diversity initiatives. The NGLCC even has its own group of corporate partners seeking to work with LGBT businesses.

Some jurisdictions are also establishing their own LGBTQ+ certifications. In my home state of New Jersey, Governor Murphy recently signed an executive order instructing the New Jersey Department of the Treasury to create a state-backed certification program for LGBTQ+-owned businesses. This certification, which will be free of charge, will expand public and private contracting opportunities.

New York City has also taken moves to promote LGBTQ+ businesses. It invites LGBTE’s certified with the NGLCC to apply for the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise and the Emerging Business Enterprise certification programs. LGBTQ-owned businesses that aren’t already NGLCC certified may also apply for NYC certification through the standard application on the city’s Small Business Services Connect website.

LGBTQ+ owned businesses are also specifically recognized by the city of Baltimore, which provides for a certification. 

While the number of jurisdictions with their own certification is certainly small, New Jersey’s latest move may propel other states to follow suit.

The Benefits of Being LGBTQ Certified

Just as being a certified women-owned and minority-owned business brings new opportunities and access, so too does being LGBTQ certified. With diversity and inclusion initiatives topping corporate agendas today, many organizations are looking to do business with LGBTQ+-owned companies. Being designated such a business will make companies stand out from among the competition. 

Holding a NGLCC designation also opens a host of other doors:

  • Access to their network of 200+ corporate and government partners who are looking to support LGBTQ+ businesses.
  • B2B opportunities – NGLCC has 1000+ LGBTBEs across all industries, expanding networking capabilities.
  • Educational programs and mentorship opportunities.
  • Networking and scholarship opportunities.

If you’re a certified LGBTQ+ business, I would love to hear about your certification experience.

 

diversity and inclusion graphic

LGBTQ+ Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

I read a quote from Rainbow Railroad that I want to share with you: “All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” With it being Pride Month, we want to shine a spotlight on LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion. What is your company doing to make sure your LGBTQ+ employees feel safe and comfortable? Do you have diversity initiatives in place? Are you actively taking steps to build a culture of belonging? I’m hoping this article will help guide employers on the path to creating welcoming and supportive workplaces for the LGBTQ+ community during the month of June and every day of the year.

What Does LGBTQ+ Mean?

LGBTQ+ is an inclusive acronym that represents a diverse range of sexualities and gender-identities. The LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people. The plus sign represents other gender and sexual identities, such as nonbinary, pansexual, asexual and intersex. 

The Benefits of a Diverse Workforce Are Proven

Diversity is, of course, crucial for social justice. But it also makes sense from a purely business standpoint. A McKinsey study found that diversity can positively impact a company’s bottom line. How? By:

  • Boosting creativity and innovation. Diverse thinking leads to more creative results. When you bring together multiple perspectives, you foster new ways of thinking, which drives innovation.
  • Creating a more inclusive culture. When you have a company culture that authentically encourages diversity across the enterprise you are creating an environment where people feel accepted and valued. This in turn enhances employee engagement, which boosts productivity. Plus an inclusive culture improves a company’s reputation and brand, helping to retain and attract talent.
  • Making better decisions. Research by Cloverpop shows that diverse teams are better at making decisions – 87% of the time! As Laura Sherbin, CFO and Director of Research at the Center for Talent Innovation notes, “Diversity and inclusion must go hand-in-hand to drive results. Cloverpop’s research bolsters the case that employers who build diverse and inclusive teams see the best outcomes.”

Tips for Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion at Your Organization

Now that you know that diversity and inclusion makes sense from a bottom line standpoint in addition to being the ethical thing to do, let’s explore some strategies for building a more LGBTQ+ friendly workplace.

  • Establish Formal LGBTQ+ policies. Whether it’s making sure that LGBTQ+ inclusion is part of your overall diversity policy or creating a separate policy around it, your formal policies need to demonstrate your commitment in this area. Be sure to address topics like parental leave, adoption, dress code expectations, and restroom use. 

 

  • Provide comprehensive LGBTQ+ training. This applies to both new hire onboarding and ongoing training sessions. It is a powerful way to educate your entire workforce about LGBTQ+ issues as well as your policies, expectations, and repercussions for violations.

 

  • Set employee expectations. While you cannot force employees to condone or agree with each other’s lifestyle, you can require your workforce to treat each other with respect. Define behaviors that help foster inclusion, such as using preferred names and pronouns. 

 

  • Use personal pronouns. In an inclusive workplace, it’s important not to assume anyone’s gender. Encouraging the use of pronouns you identify with in email signatures, social media and other written forms of communication can help trans and nonbinary people feel more comfortable around their peers. 

 

  • Adopt gender neutral language. Transition language in company documentation from he/she to they for more inclusive communications.

 

  • Create an LGBTQ+ network. A great way to show your support is to create an LGBTQ+ network in your organization. Creating such a group also provides opportunities to identify ways to improve your inclusive initiatives. In addition to this group, you can also seek out inclusion allies who can also offer support. 

 

  • Recruit purposefully. Start promoting a welcoming workplace from the start during the recruitment process. Include stories of diversity and inclusion on your website. Make sure your job postings use gender neutral language. Include references to same-sex partner benefits. Post on LGBTQ+-friendly job sites. 

With it being Pride Month, now is the time to take action and review and reassess your LGBTQ+ policies and initiatives. 

 

do you offer employee wellness programs

How Employee Wellness Programs Benefit Employers

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

If I had to pick one HR topic for organizations to focus on in 2022, it would likely be employee wellness. The pandemic has shown us just how important it is to focus on the physical and mental health of the workforce. While doing so is obviously key for the employees themselves, it is also necessary for companies to survive and thrive in our new work world.

The scares and challenges of the last two years have changed how employees view their jobs. Not only are they demanding a better work-life balance, they are also looking to align themselves with organizations that value them and genuinely consider their wants and needs. One way for employers to demonstrate that they see and hear them is through wellness programs. 

As an HR professional, I am often asked by leadership and CFO’s as to whether the benefits are worth the investment. My answer: unequivocally, yes! 

A Cost Benefit Analysis

By creating wellness programs, organizations reap a variety of benefits making it well worth the investment, such as:

  1. Providing a competitive edge in a tight labor market. Today’s job seekers expect health and wellness benefits from employers. They want more than just a good salary. In fact, candidates often include wellness programs on their list of job benefits that are important to them. 
  2. Retaining and engaging existing talent. Employee wellness goes hand-in-hand with employee engagement. Offering initiatives that are focused on an individual’s wellbeing lets workers know that they are not just another number or cog in the wheel. This helps employees feel they play an important part in the function of the organization and provides greater job satisfaction.
  3. Creating a positive corporate culture. When a company has a genuine concern for the workforce’s wellbeing, it fosters a culture of trust and respect, which in turn boosts morale and a feeling of belonging. A positive culture is not only important for engagement, but also for recruiting
  4. Lowering absenteeism and turnover. Initiatives that improve employee health and reduce stress levels in turn tend to decrease sick days and resignations. Employees who are healthy, well-rested and energized are more motivated to complete their work and perform their best – and are less likely to start job hunting.
  5. Reducing healthcare costs. When the workforce’s health improves, they are less likely to get sick saving the organization in healthcare expenses. Studies show that for every dollar an employer spends on wellness programs, the company saves an average of $3.27 in health care costs.
  6. Decreasing losses. The American Institute of Stress found that job stress costs the US industry more than $300 billion in losses due to absenteeism, diminished productivity, and accidents. 

The benefits employers gain from offering employee wellness programs are definitely worth the investment. 

Not sure what types of offerings to include in your wellness program? Read our blog Employee Health and Wellness Program Ideas

 

employee burnout

Employee Burnout Symptoms and Prevention Strategies

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

The stats don’t lie. American workers are experiencing heightened rates of burnout. 

According to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Work and Well-Being Survey, 79% of employees had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey, with three in five reporting negative impacts of that stress.

And Gallup found that about three in four American workers experience burnout on the job at least sometimes, with 29% reporting they feel burned out at work very often or always.

I don’t need to see the results of these surveys to know that burnout is real. My team has been helping business owners, C-suite professionals, and management address the stressors their workforce is experiencing since well before the start of the pandemic, although things have certainly progressed at warp speed since its eruption! 

Why have organizations reached out for our assistance? They know the toll burnout is taking on their employees, and in turn, the organization overall. Successful companies are built on happy and productive workers. Burnout impacts employee performance, which affects a company’s bottom line. To put that into dollars and cents, the American Institute of Stress notes that job stress costs the US industry more than $300 billion in losses due to absenteeism, diminished productivity, and accidents. 

Common Signs of Employee Burnout

Chances are you’ve experienced symptoms of burnout yourself – almost everyone I know has, including myself. Below are some of the most common indicators that your team is struggling.

Exhaustion – Emotional, Mental and/or Physical

If your employees seem tired all the time, they may be experiencing burnout. Increased work stress can carry over into home life, impacting the ability to unwind, relax or sleep. Not being able to restore or re-energize with down time impacts someone physically, mentally and emotionally. You can become irritable, unable to focus, and experience other physical ailments, such as chest pains, panic attacks, and headaches.

Mistakes and/or Decreased Productivity

A key signal of burnout is an increase in mistakes and/or a slide in productivity. Missed meetings and deadlines are also telltale signs.

Disengagement

Losing interest and disconnecting are common with burned out employees, along with a lack of enthusiasm, no longer socializing with coworkers, not actively pursuing new projects or tasks, and failing to return calls or emails.

Increased Absenteeism

Overworked employees tend to take sick days, whether as a way to renew energy or to avoid the stressors causing the burnout.

Heightened Sensitivity to Feedback

Stress can cause us to not see things clearly, as a result, workers may overreact to criticism by getting defensive, angry, or upset.

So What Steps Can Employers Take to Prevent Burnout? 

It benefits employers to invest in workplace wellness initiatives. Some preventative strategies include:

  • Mandatory management training. It’s important to give managers the skills and tools they need to be effective supervisors. Poorly trained managers can create employee stress.
  • Prioritizing workplace wellness. Creating a less stressful environment with quiet places to unplug and relax for even a few minutes a day can make a world of difference. Encourage mental health days and offer robust physical and mental health benefits, such as counseling and gym memberships.
  • Monitoring workloads. Employees should not be expected to maintain unreasonable workloads, schedules or timelines.
  • Encouraging employees to use their vacation time. So many workers fail to take their allotted days off because they have too much to do at work or they fear someone could replace them. Create a culture where vacation time is actively supported.
  • Promoting work-life balance. This should be lived from the top down in order for such a practice to work. Offering flexible work arrangements, such as where and when you work, can help to foster employee wellness, as can providing time off for family events and self care.
  • Supporting professional development. Oftentimes stressors arise around frustration over lack of opportunity for advancement. Showing interest in employee aspirations, helping to define career paths, promoting educational training, fostering a mentoring environment, and reminding employees of the importance of their roles all go a long way in supporting career development.

 

Employee Health and Wellness Program Ideas

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

Pandemic aside, a new poll from Gallup indicates that the percentage of workers who feel that their employer cares about their wellbeing has plummeted. Back in May of 2020, 49% felt that their organizations had a genuine concern for them, their work and their lives. But that number has now drastically dropped to 24%! 

Employers need to take serious note of this double digit decrease. Why? Because according to Gallup’s findings, workers who believe their employer actually cares about their wellbeing are:

  • 69% less likely to actively seek out a new job
  • 71% less likely to report experiencing significant burnout
  • Five times more likely to strongly promote their company as a place to work 
  • Three times more likely to be engaged at work

One way to demonstrate your organization cares is through the development of a robust employee health and wellness program. 

What Is a Wellness Program?

A wellness program is a workplace initiative specifically created to support and improve the physical and/or mental health of employees. There is no standard one size fits all approach to employee wellness programs. They should be tailored specifically for your team and evolve to meet shifting needs and wants. 

What to Offer in Your Health and Wellness Program

Wellness programs can include a multitude of features. In having worked with organizations across sectors and industries throughout the United States, I’ve found that wellness programs tend to offer a mix of the following, among other things:

Health Screenings

Providing in office screenings like blood pressure checks and BMI measurements can arm employees with medical information they may not routinely seek out.

Health Workshops

Your employees may want to improve their health but aren’t sure what they should be doing. Offer educational events such as stress reduction, healthy cooking classes, and smoking cessation workshops.

Gym or Exercise Class Memberships

Workers may not exercise because it is simply too cost prohibitive or they don’t have time to fit it into their schedule. Subsidizing gym memberships or providing a fitness center on site can help them pursue the healthy lifestyle they want but have been unable to achieve.

Fitness Challenges

Motivate employees to improve their physical and mental health with challenges and prizes for things like walking a mile each day, giving up smoking, eating more healthily, losing weight, or drinking more water.

Walking Groups

Organize early morning or lunchtime walking groups. Your teams could use the break and also benefit from the socialization.

Company Sports Teams

Team sports such as softball not only provide an outlet for exercise, but also an opportunity for workers to bond and form friendships.

Healthy Snacks and Meals

Stock your workspace with snacks like fresh fruit and protein bars. If you have a cafeteria, make sure it includes healthy options. Healthy eating can lead to better energy and more productivity.

Recreation/Game Rooms

Taking a break can help you see things in a different light. Create a space where your team can work as a team in a non-work setting to clear the mind and foster collaboration.

Relaxation Rooms

It’s no secret that today’s workers are experiencing unprecedented rates of burnout. A quiet place can help them destress and re-energize during the day.

Onsite Health Clinic

Depending upon the size of the organization, an onsite health clinic may be a great perk and help to address absenteeism.

Monthly Massages

Create a monthly spa day where employees can receive 10 minute chair massages.

Wellness program options are limitless. The above list is just some ideas to get you going. I’d love to hear what your organization is doing to improve the health and wellness of its employees.