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Employee wellbeing: How to start not to skip

The latest research on mental health and wellbeing states that corporate wellbeing strategy is no longer just a fancy thing. And Covid played there its' first violin. Before the pandemic, only 47% of companies had their Wellbeing strategy, while in 2021- 22, already 51% of companies took employee wellbeing seriously.

What impacted Wellbeing strategies

Growth of corporate Wellbeing is not surprising, indeed, as we have all experienced stress related to the necessity to adapt quickly and readapt back to office life juggling numerous balls of business targets, family commitments, health related issues, necessary yet still unexciting daily routines, and even hobbies together with personal development.

Complicated lifestyle stress negatively impacts mental and physical health and the employer has to respond.

How we started at EFES Kazakhstan

At EFES Kazakhstan, Wellbeing is a part of our commitment as an employer. Our journey to Wellbeing started from an internal wellness program, initially aiming to provide some support in sports and other activities to understand employee response to the program. The Wellness program was launched in 2018 year and appeared to be successful. Employees enthusiastically shared feedback their life became more vivid, they felt stronger energy, which has improved overall quality of life. Needless to say, for us as an employer such qualitative changes mean better performance.

Complex approach to Wellbeing Strategy

The positive results of Wellness program made us even more straightforward to systematize the approach to corporate wellbeing, introducing «My body, Mind and Soul” wellbeing strategy. Making a compelling program is just half of a success since to understand the progress we need to have meaningful metrics. One of the metrics we track is a number of people that attend the Wellbeing event. Sounds simplistic? Don’t be so judgmental. Such metric shows value people see in a certain activity. In Wellbeing program we target Wellbeing of the majority and it is about mass participation. What is more important, the push and pull strategy here is also not acceptable.

As an example, one of our most popular events is Marathon. We were represented by the biggest number of EKIDEN Teams in 2022. Unsurprisingly, after such events, employees decide to start regular exercise.

Start from the Top

For many HR activities to be successful it is recommended to start from the Top. Wellbeing is there. When Top management participates, team members quite actively get engaged, this is «leading by example”. It does not mean that company management should be professional sports people, it is simply about making sports a normal part of daily routine.

Wellbeing and Leadership investment

The spectrum of Wellbeing is really diverse, including all types of sports, voluntary insurance, annual medical checks etc., but what comes first is the company culture. Let’s say in companies, where employees have poor relations with their Line Managers, Wellbeing fails. Stress battling techniques and yoga exercises will not manage it. Poor people management results in high turnover and absenteeism rates. This is one of the reasons why we make significant investments in the leadership and management competencies of our supervisors, managers and above.

Lessons learnt

Each project has its' life cycle, Wellbeing is not an exception. To keep being successful HR (or any other department in charge) should analyze its' actions, how well the programs are established, what is the feedback and how the results are measured. This is a recipe how not to skip. Each project phase apart of sheer success might have its' downs. For example, yoga was one of that cases. There was demand, but then we’ve noticed poor participation, readapted to online format and still the same. So, response was obvious — we’ve closed the program and found a better alternative.

Our outcomes

While delivering the program, we came to certain conclusions that I’d love to share.

  1. Start from small steps, see the response of your employees.
  2. Once you find what’s really beneficial for employees and business, make it holistic, and arrange a program that will cover the majority of needs.

An example of such wellbeing strategy could be:

  • Health program
  • Mental health program
  • Financial program (most neglected by employers part!)
  • Get feedback constantly.
  • Keep testing ideas and measuring results.