When businesses had to switch to remote work, wellness programs may have fallen by the wayside. It’s time to change that. Although wellness programs may need to undergo some adjustments for the remote workforce, they are sorely needed right now.
The Pandemic’s Negative Impact on Wellness
Catching COVID-19 isn’t the only health concern during the pandemic. Stuck at home, many people are developing unhealthy habits.
According to a poll from WebMD, 47% of U.S. women and 22% of U.S. men said they had gained weight because of COVID restrictions. In an international poll, 34% of women and 55% of men said they had gained weight. Both a lack of exercise and stress eating are contributing to the extra pounds.
COVID-19 stress has created problems that go beyond weight gain. According to NBC News, research has shown that pandemic stress has contributed to a spike in alcohol use, especially among women.
People are suffering, both physically and mentally. Wellness programs may help
Adjusting Wellness Programs for a Remote Workforce
Wellness programs that worked before – like gym memberships and walking meetings – won’t work now, but this doesn’t mean you have to give up.
Here are a few ways employers can continue to support wellness programs:
- Webinars and Online Programs: Diabetes prevention programs, smoking cessation programs, substance abuse support groups, and other essential programs do not need to be abandoned. Instead, they can go virtual. In fact, many programs already had online options, so this might not even require a change.
- Wellness Apps: Various apps can help with stress relief techniques, meditation, and good sleep hygiene. There are also apps to help with weight loss, physical exercise, and other health issues. Some of these apps require a purchase or subscription-free, but employers can cover this cost as a wellness benefit. There are many programs to choose from. Employers might consider Headspace and Fitbit, both of which have options designed for businesses.
- Remote Counseling: Telemedicine experienced a surge in popularity because of the pandemic, and this applies to mental health care as well as other types of medical care. Many people are feeling isolated right now. Remote counseling options, which can be done via the phone or internet, can provide needed support.
- Encouraging Wellness: The right attitude can be just as important as any formal program. Supervisors should take time to check in on employees and see how they’re really doing. Make it clear that this is a difficult time for everyone, but you will support each other and get through it. Encourage healthy habits, including a reasonable schedule that separates work time from personal time and includes breaks for exercise.
- Raising Awareness: Your employees might not be aware of the programs and resources available to them. Provide reminders and encourage employees to take advantage of the offerings. Make sure there is no stigma attached to needing assistance.
If you need assistance with employee benefits or workplace wellness programs, Heffernan is here to help. Contact our employee benefits team to learn more.