As a business leader, you know that your employees are one of your greatest assets. They are typically the ones out in the field or in front of the customer doing the hands-on work that makes it possi...
As companies continue to increase their number of remote workers in efforts to remain competitive and attract top talent, the list of pros, cons, and challenges remains. Employing remote workers has a number of great benefits for your business and your employees, including:
More productive employees
That said, when it comes to your wellness program, keeping remote employees engaged can be a challenge. While remote employees by and large boast higher rates of productivity—a 20-30% increase in productivity, according to the 2019 DI Developer Survey Report, when it comes to employee morale-related activities, it can be a little more challenging to keep remote employees engaged.
“Since they’re not able to participate in the casual conversations that naturally occur in a workplace, remote employees can feel socially isolated, anxious, and out of the loop.” – Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse
As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, businesses across the U.S. have taken the steps to implement wellness programs. In fact, 66% of employers have expanded their health and wellness options, encouraging employees to lead healthier lives. But, given that remote employees can already feel alienated from their office mates and the traditional employee engagement campaigns that are taking place in the office, there’s a solid chance they aren’t engaged in any wellness programs or activities your business sponsors. Since wellness programs have so many benefits to your business, including cost savings that can be realized through lower claims, it’s important to encourage all employees—including those that work remote—to participate in your programs to realize a healthier lifestyle. Here are five simple steps you can take to encourage your remote employees to engage in your company’s wellness program.
1. Invest (Trust) in technology
There are very few facets of our lives that are not largely driven or controlled by technology. We use tech for nearly every facet of communication: it helps us drive our cars, order goods and services, make appointments, and even manage our healthcare. When it comes to your wellness program, embedding technology is worth the investment because it encourages all employees, especially those that work remotely, to engage in your program. For example, our company provides all employees—including those that work remotely or outside of our headquarters location—with a free Virgin Pulse® fitness tracker as part of our wellness program. We, then, encourage them to log their activity and healthy habits, and even reward them up to $500 a year in wellness incentives.
Employees are already using technology and apps such as My Fitness Pal, various fitness trackers, Carb Manager, and a host of other resources to keep a pulse on their health and fitness. Your business can leverage the opportunity to integrate your program into the type of technology your employees are already using to encourage engagement and healthy competition with your remote employees.
2. Make your program inclusive to everyone
Inclusivity is key to any good wellness program. Whether employees are remote or in-house, it’s important that you always provide a participation option for employees of all ages, fitness levels, abilities, and of course, locations. For example, if you provide your employees with a free or reduced gym membership, make sure that it’s to a gym that includes locations nationwide so that all employees have access to partake in the membership. If nationwide locations are not available, you may have to consider the same type of benefit at any gym so that no matter where your employees are located, they feel included and are willing to engage.
3. Don’t restrict by location
Much like inclusivity, it’s important that your wellness initiatives are available in some capacity regardless of where your employees reside. For example, if you host lunch ‘n learns or workshops to educate on-site employees about healthy eating options, you can make the same content available to remote employees by recording a webinar or developing e-learning courses.
4. Publicize onsite and remote employee wellness achievements
Do you have a company intranet or distribute a corporate-wide newsletter? These are great channels to publicize all employee wellness achievements! Whether your employees engage in a weight loss contest, compete in weekend fun runs, or simply share heart-healthy recipes with their colleagues, these are wellness initiatives that should be applauded because they encourage your entire workforce—both on-site and remote—to stay engaged in your wellness program.
5. Build connections
Engagement in your business’ wellness program is going to naturally be easier for your employees if they feel like they have a support system. As a leader, it can be incredibly overwhelming to feel like you have to not only build a strong wellness program, but also keep all of your employees—on-site and remote—engaged, so it’s important that you build connections across your organization. This could mean creating wellness committees or employees that “champion” your program. Ultimately, you want buy-in from the top down and across the organization to talk up your program. If you have remote employees, don’t exclude them from this process! One idea to keep them engaged is to have remote employee wellness champions that encourage their fellow remote colleagues to meet up for weekend walks or swap healthy snack ideas via email.
Given the number of ways a wellness program can benefit your employees and your bottom line, it’s worth the time and financial investment, but no matter how robust your program is, don’t forget to engage your remote employees.
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Roxanne Leal has been with SWBC since December 2019. As a Wellness Program Manager, Roxanne specializes in developing strategic wellness programs based on high cost claims, survey data and aggregate reports. Roxanne Leal has worked in the health & wellness industry for over 7 years. Prior to joining SWBC, she spent 5 years as a Wellness Program Consultant for Aetna managing Bexar County’s wellness program. She worked closely with County leadership, brokers, account management and vendors to design and deliver quality onsite wellness programming for over 4,500 employees. Roxanne graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a bachelors in Community Health. She serves on the Board of Directors for San Antonio Business Group on Health and is the Chair for the Healthy Workplace Recognition Program. In addition to her community involvement, she is on the leadership board for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.