Why you should have an ‘emotional wellness’ plan

Don’t overlook the emotional component of your company’s well-being plans, says one industry expert.

Why you should have an ‘emotional wellness’ plan
Much has been said about how an employee’s wellbeing has a direct correlation to their performance and productivity.

But some companies still overlook the emotional component when creating their employee wellbeing plan, said Ofer Leidner, co-founder and president of Happify, a science-based software platform for employee happiness and emotional wellbeing.

“A core number of companies are starting to realize there’s another layer to the overall employee wellbeing that has been previously neglected — the emotional wellbeing component,” he said.
For years, corporations have invested a tremendous amount of time and money in physical fitness, but have neglected emotional fitness.”
He cited a study done by Gallup that found that the total cost for lost productivity due to stress and behavioural health can go as high as US$550 billion annually.
Clearly, he said, emotional health is a major issue and the smartest companies are the ones that address it in a preventative way.
“They are pre-empting the problem by giving employees access to benefits and plans that help them develop skills like resilience, grit, gratitude and more,” he said.
“By providing highly accessible and scalable solutions to help people address their emotional wellbeing, these companies are taking steps to prevent employees from developing elevated levels of stress.”
He said that the most effective emotional wellness plans have four major characteristics:
  1. Accessible – Plans need to be accessible to employees anytime, anywhere;
  2. Personalised – Plans should be adaptable to each personality and employee;
  3. Scalable – Programmes should leverage widely used technology to both scale service and easily measure outcomes of results in order to reach a large number of employees; and
  4. Engaging – Methods used should ensure that users remain connected and interested in the program.
“Gamifying a stress management plan doesn’t inherently make the plan more effective,” said Leidner when asked about Happify’s use of gamification in their programmes.
“But, it makes the plan more enjoyable and encourages people to use it more often, which, in turn, creates better results.”
“A gamified plan is like a treadmill with a television. The television doesn’t make you run better on the treadmill, but it does make the treadmill and more fun and thus, more likely that you’ll use it.”
He also added that when creating their emotional wellness plans, employers should watch out for certain peak stress times during the year.

Some peak stress times they have identified in their research include the holidays, summertime when most workers go on vacation and those left behind have to take on extra work, and during budgeting season when finance and accounting departments usually work longer hours.

“Employers need to recognise when different departments are sensitive to increased period of stress and then develop plans to pre-empt these periods,” he said.
“For instance, ahead of budgeting season, employers should deploy specific strategies that help reduce the cognitive and emotional load on the staff.”

“If these employees will feel isolated during this period, find opportunities to foster connections between them and different departments to help generate the benefits of socialisation and personal connections,” he added.

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