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How to engage remote workers in the COVID era

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of life indefinitely. While the immediate changes are evident, less is known about the lasting effects as we begin the new normal. One of the biggest changes for us is the way we work. Traditional corporate initiatives in terms of corporate welfare will not be enough now.

For years, most employees commuted to offices or workplaces and spent their days between colleagues. Now many employees work from home and their daily routine has changed significantly. In addition to setting up a remote workspace and handling demanding jobs with children at home or at school a few days a week, many employees are isolated from their colleagues and struggle to maintain their well-being.

The sudden shift in the work environment and the current health crisis have highlighted how crucial it is to develop and maintain a healthy workforce. To do this, corporate initiatives in wellness and program delivery must change to meet the times.

The Future of Corporate Health

How have wellness programs changed in recent months?
Employers were sometimes already taking advantage of a wide range of wellness initiatives, such as gym memberships, moments to get coffee together at the coffee machine, incentives from colleagues to walk, newsletters and more. While some companies have set up very comprehensive wellness programs, others have achieved savings or increased productivity with just a few simple activities that promote healthy behaviors. The most important thing is to commit to welfare promotion in the organization.

As work shifted from office to home, many welfare programs were running to meet the needs of the country's new outside workforce. Employers used more
technology to deliver content, and programs moved from in-office seminars to webinar and video formats. Increasing levels of stress and anxiety among employees prompted employers to focus on wellness program offerings.

How can employers involve remote workers in corporate wellness programs?
With the country in various stages of reopening and COVID-19 cases still increasing, many of the recent changes are likely to persist for the foreseeable future. Employers need to embrace these changes, expand their offerings and develop more robust programming to engage outside workers.
Now that offices are reopening, it will be a long time before they are full again. In addition to reducing the number of employees in the office to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many organizations will include the aspects of working from home in their future frameworks.
For corporate wellness programs to achieve the same level of engagement as before the pandemic, employers will need to use robust, interactive technology to keep remote workers engaged.

What will Corporate Wellness Programming look like in the coming months?
Technology and virtual programming will play a key role in the future of corporate wellness.
  • Health portals where employees can enter health data such as weight, activity and food choices, as well as virtual sessions with dietitians and other health professionals, provide accountability and support previously only available in person.
  • Wellness challenges that promote communication within teams and enable socialization, whether in the office or at a distance, will foster a sense of community while improving employee health.
  • Webinars, virtual tours, exercise classes, and cooking demos are all initiatives that can be used to engage remote workers.
  • Telecare sessions with dietitians, mental health professionals or health coaches ensure employees have access to on-site or home support.
  • Virtual initiatives and coaching such as WORK & MOVE. Whether it's wellness coaching or bringing employees together socially, it will make employees feel more connected, engaged and more productive.

Employers will focus on mental health provision. While the importance of mental and emotional health has received attention in recent years, the pandemic highlights how critical these initiatives are to employee well-being.

Employees struggle with working from home while having young children, feel isolated and disconnected from co-workers, and deal with other problems, including loss of income, from a spouse, or the fear of catching the virus.

The future of corporate wellness must approach mental health in the same way as nutrition, fitness and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. One of the first steps is to encourage open and honest communication about mental health and to provide training to managers so that they can recognize problems and respond appropriately.

Developing wellness programs aimed at encouraging employees to take their health into their own hands is more important than ever. Managers and business leaders often set the tone for participation in the program, so it is vital that support for the program comes from above.

Programs should emphasize the role wellness plays in supporting a healthy immune system and providing employees with the resources and support needed to make a healthy lifestyle change.

What steps should employers take now?
What steps should employers take now?
The opportunity to expand and improve corporate wellness offerings to meet the needs of employees in these unprecedented times is exciting. Those in leadership roles must work with their current wellness program to assess and identify what is working and what is missing. It is important to identify the needs of your workforce and develop a customized strategy to engage your remote workers in wellness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone. In the midst of the chaos, employee well-being is more important than ever, and a well-designed program can positively impact productivity and engagement.

By adding technology and virtual programming to foster on- and off-site engagement, include mental health support, and promote healthy lifestyles in those with chronic health conditions, employees stay engaged in wellbeing while working remotely. Even as the country is rebalancing, employers need to prioritize employee wellness initiatives to encourage mental and physical well-being and develop a healthy workforce.

WORK & MOVE Analytics is the tool that is increasingly being used in our country and that really provides tools for your Health & Safety policy. This provides insights (fully GDPR-proof) so that you can use your employees and resources even more specifically. Interested in this tool and a live demonstration of the tool, please click here.
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