6 Myths about corporate wellness

6 Myths about corporate wellness
Corporate wellness. Image source: Unsplash

In the last few years – particularly since the pandemic – there’s been a marked shift towards prioritising employee wellness in the workplace. Companies of all sizes, from budding SMEs to established corporates, are now realising the many benefits that a healthier and happier workforce can bring. Besides benefits like better productivity, lower absenteeism and a lower staff turnover, investing in employee wellness also leads to a significant boost in morale, fostering a more positive and motivated work environment. This, in turn, enhances teamwork and attracts better talent to your organisation.

But despite the increasing shift towards corporate wellness initiatives, there are still some common misperceptions about them, including:

  1. It’s too expensive. For many companies – particularly smaller SMMEs – the idea of a corporate wellness programme feels like a daunting financial commitment. But remember that corporate wellness is not a one-size-fits-all approach. While it may be true that building a gym in your office block or subsidising employee gym memberships can be expensive, there are other simple initiatives to encourage healthier employees that are far more cost-effective. For example, instilling simple changes like allowing flexible working hours, encouraging regular breaks or providing a repository of online health resources don’t require huge financial investment but still show your employees that you value their health. This flexibility allows you to tailor your wellness strategies to your company’s unique needs and budget.
  2. Wellness programmes are primarily about physical health. While physical health is vital to overall health, mental health and well-being also play a crucial part. For SMMEs, looking after their employees’ mental well-being could mean providing access to mental health resources, offering stress management workshops, or even providing financial planning services. If you have a corporate medical aid scheme, some of these resources may come together with the scheme’s benefits. For example, Fedhealth medical aid membership includes access to the October Health app, which contains mental health resources like educational materials, access to support groups, AI coaching and one-on-one care.
  3. Only unhealthy employees will benefit. While it may be true that a corporate wellness programme can dramatically improve the lives of employees whose existing health is poor, that’s not to say that a wellness programme won’t benefit your healthy employees too. Preventative programmes and education can help your healthy employees maintain their well-being and prevent any health problems in future. And, while some of your employees may be physically healthy, their mental health may be lacking, and vice versa. A holistic corporate wellness programme ensures that all aspects of a healthy life are addressed and supported.
  4. Wellness is a transitory trend. Far from being a fad, corporate wellness is here to stay, as companies realise they have to take a holistic view of their employees to future-proof themselves and survive a shifting marketplace where competition is stiff. Mercer’s 2024 Global Talent Risk Report reports that eight out of ten employees feel at risk of burnout, which means work-life balance is more important than ever. Companies must take this seriously to retain quality talent over the long term.
  5. It needs to be done in person. While in-person wellness programmes are popular, technology is increasingly used to virtually deliver the same health benefits to employees. A 2023 McKinsey Health Institute survey found that Generation Z, expected to be the largest generation in the workforce by 2035, is more likely than other older generations to use digital wellness programmes. Besides the apps previously mentioned, there are several other ways in which companies can use technology for employee health, including telemedicine, digital health assessments, virtual therapy sessions, and even online fitness apps (which means remote workers can benefit too).
  6. They’re time-consuming. Many small and mid-sized businesses feel that setting up a corporate wellness programme will take too much time—and it will take up their employees’ time as well. While there is likely to be a time investment involved, a wellness programme can save an organisation time by improving productivity in the long term. In addition, wellness initiatives can be simple measures that aren’t time-consuming, whether they take the form of a 20-minute stretching session or encouraging walking meetings rather than seated ones.

 

Investing in employee wellness isn’t just a trendy move: it’s a smart long-term strategy that can help your company thrive. Whether you’re a small SME or a large corporation, focusing on both physical and mental health can lead to better productivity, lower turnover, and higher morale. By investing in an employee wellness programme, you’re not just making a short-term commitment, but a long-term investment in your company’s overall success. And, even if you start small and scale up over time, the benefits will continue to grow.