employee wellbeing initiatives

5 Employee Wellbeing Initiatives with Impacts that Will Actually Last

Employee Wellbeing Initiatives

As organizations continue to face pressing challenges with employee retention and employee engagement, focusing on employee wellbeing initiatives that will mitigate the risk of these scenarios should be at the forefront of the minds of human resource groups.

Research cites several factors to explain the issue of employee retention in the years following the pandemic. Undeniably, retention and engagement (i.e. staying at a company and taking proactive measures toward its goals) are issues of employee satisfaction.

Almost all of the explanatory research in this area points to some piece of the employee/ manager relationship not working. Often, employees feel undervalued or uncomfortable communicating with their direct managers.

As the saying goes, “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers.” When employees are not connected to their managers, their work, or the organization, they are much more likely to leave. Companies then must pay the price.

Here are tips for creating employee engagement initiatives that actually speak to your people. For further support in implementing these principles, refer to our Corporate Workshops at Work services.

employee engagement improvement

What is an Employee Wellbeing Initiative?

While it can be tempting to implement simple, band-aid-like programs like step challenges, complimentary snacks, or group mindfulness activities, these attempts tend to bypass the challenges employees are facing.

These programs also ignore the reasons employee retention is at record-lows in the first place. Which means that there likely won’t be any worthwhile, sustainable return on such investments.

Instead, organizations need an employee wellbeing initiative that gets to the root of the issues that are causing employees to leave.

5 Actionable Employee Wellbeing Initiatives

There are several effective employee wellbeing initiatives organizations can pursue, and while they will have much more lasting impact they are not overly complicated or expensive.

One way to understand employee satisfaction and fulfillment is through the lens of attachment theory. Attachment theory is a facet of relational psychology that explains human behavior as seeking connection to others and meaning in their life’s work.

To address the reasons employees are leaving, organizations should consider the conditions with which employees are unsatisfied.

Using the lens of attachment theory, organizations can implement strategies that get to the root of the employee needs at a human, psychological level, reducing conflict that may lead to retention issues.

1) Require frequent manager-employee check ins and 360 feedback

The strength of the manager- employee relationship is crucial for the health of organizations. Often times when employees leave an organization, management will say they are caught blind-sighted. At the same time, no one ever asked this employee how things were going.

Research in the field of relational psychology has found that managers take on attachment figures in employee’s lives. This means that employees, unconsciously, see managers as a source of security.

If the relationship is not strong and maintained over time, employees will experience uncertainty in their place and security in the organization. This uncertainty can shift to the distress that causes employees to leave.

Creating a more healthy dynamic to facilitate employee wellbeing does not need to be complicated or time consuming. We recommend biweekly check ins with managers and employees to check in on expectations, status updates, and any presenting challenges. These check ins will serve as an employee wellbeing initiatives by making employees feel valued and cared for in the work place.

2) Increase access to senior management

Skip-level meetings are necessary for organizations to catch their blind spots. If employees do not feel comfortable sharing something with their manager, there need to be other funnels to capture any sentiments that may put them at-risk for leaving the company.

Skip-level meetings are a great way for more senior management to gather and share feedback with the team-leaders in their organizations. They also provide the bonus of making employees’ feel even more seen and heard.

3) Create a culture of support through team-building

While the employee manager relationship is crucial, employee wellbeing initiatives should also foster relationships between teams in the organizations. Friendships in the workplace can serve as a protective factor for people who are unsatisfied with their managers or their work.

Companies should be thoughtful about these activities and select something that is meaningful to its people and does not impede on their lives outside of the workplace.

4) Involve employees in creating a shared mission

In addition to feeling connected to their boss and their colleagues, employees who feel connected to the mission of their role and finding meaning through their work are much less likely to leave their jobs.

Therefore, rather than sharing down values and a mission statement from the top, involve employees in team level discussions about their values and objectives for their role. This will create a culture of togetherness and buy the individuals in to the shared work.

While you’re at it-take their suggestions! Make your people feel heard. You may even ask them what type of employee wellbeing initiatives they would like to see in the future and show your commitment to them by implementing their suggestions.

5) Offer Mental Health Services

Employees want to feel taken care of and supported by their organizations in a well-rounded way. In addition to providing typical benefits packages, consider hiring a designated mental health provider for ongoing support of your organization’s people.

This will send a message that you prioritize their wellbeing in addition to their value to your company.

Traditional Employee Wellbeing Initiatives

Once the above programs are put into place, there is nothing wrong with implementing more laid back employee wellbeing initiatives that may be less relational or strategic in focus.

However, given the risks of retention facing organizations, putting band-aid programs into place without addressing the relational health of your people will fall flat. Employees need to feel valued, heard, and connected to the organization to show loyalty over the course of their careers.

So go head, order the step-counters. Just don’t forget to hear your employees first.

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