In his home, a man takes notes in front of his laptop. In his home, a man takes notes in front of his laptop.

Wellness strategies for companies with remote workers

Before the pandemic, 43% of U.S. workers worked off-site some or all of the time, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report.1 Since 2020, that percentage has increased dramatically. As a result, remote employees are likely to be an important and ongoing part of the employment picture in 2022 and beyond.

Remote workers bring a unique set of benefits and challenges to responsible organizations. Working from home can blur the lines between the professional and the personal, creating challenges to work-life balance that can affect psychological, physical and emotional health.

While many organizations already have robust employee wellness programs, these programs are probably not designed or optimized to support remote employee well-being.

What are some ways to create wellness programs for remote employees?

Be inclusive

Look at your current wellness offerings and make sure they support remote employee wellness by translating well to live streaming and video content.2 When presentations, seminars, demonstrations or classes are offered as part of your wellness program, take steps to include remote employees by:

  • Offering easy, remote participation in the event via video chat.
  • Reminding presenters to invite interaction and questions from remote employees.
  • Ensuring any special equipment or supplies provided to participants are also provided to those participating virtually, or their purchase of such supplies is reimbursed.
  • Recording events for access by remote employees in multiple time zones.

Provide resources

Online connectivity and mobile tools offer powerful avenues for targeting wellness programs for remote employees. Consider curating resources that can be accessed virtually into a packet or “toolkit” of ideas, activities and information supporting and supplementing your wellness program for remote employees. Consider these resources:

  • Proven stress relief techniques like yoga and meditation. Organizations may want to hire someone to conduct live-streamed mindfulness sessions or exercise classes, which can be recorded for access by all remote employees, regardless of time zone. Alternatively, the company can purchase and provide login information to popular meditation and fitness apps. You might offer links to exercise and stress management videos and audio content and evidence-based accessible articles on wellness topics.

  • Mental health support information. This can include links to websites for employee assistance programs, telehealth access, websites and phone numbers for support groups. Offer articles on strategies to help manage conditions like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance use and eating disorders. Wherever you decide to place the information, consider adding details about company benefits regarding mental health support, with step-by-step descriptions of how to access those benefits, as well as details about disability coverage and family leave.

  • Self-care tips. List helpful websites, blogs, podcasts and videos that offer tools and information about healthy nutrition, sleep and physical health.

Offer direct support

Simply put, provide financial assistance for activities that directly support remote employee wellness.

Humana’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Work-Life Services include confidential, accessible resources to support your employees’ health and mental well-being. EAP professionals are trained to assist employees with emotional issues, relationship concerns, coping with addiction, plus other daily needs and life events.

Subsidize healthy activities. Provide an annual “well-being bonus” or “wellness budget” that remote employees can put toward anything that promotes their health in response to their individual situations, preferences and needs. Subsidies might contribute to gym memberships, swimming pool access, recreational sports league fees, purchase of at-home exercise equipment and fitness trackers and delivery of healthy groceries.

Foster connection

Perhaps the biggest challenge to remote employee wellness in the workplace is the lack of access to collegial support and the community of co-workers. You can use collaboration tools, messaging apps and targeted wellness program initiatives to build connectivity opportunities into your wellness program for remote employees.

Set up virtual connection circles. These can be small virtual groups between 6–8 people, where employees meet regularly to process changes in the company, their own lives and in the current global reality. These groups can be self-facilitated, or you can hire professional facilitators to guide the interaction.3

Use collaboration apps to set up special “non-work” communication channels for sharing memes, recipes and daily anecdotes.

Connect regularly, one-on-one, with remote employees. These conversations can include work-related topics, but shouldn’t focus solely on work. These talks are not counseling sessions. They are simply regular check-ins to build relationships and individually support your team members.4

Create challenge teams. Pair remote and on-site employees for competitive wellness challenges and events like miles walked, steps per day or minutes of mindfulness practice. Employees can work together to hold each other accountable and collect points for their team.5

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), well-being is the ability for individuals to address normal stresses, work productively and realize their highest potential.6 The CDC also reminds us that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for any wellness program trying to attend to the needs and interests of a dispersed workforce.7 To create wellness programs for remote employees, simply ensure that your existing wellness programs include, or can be upgraded to include, all employees, regardless of where or how they work.

The Go365 App is ideal for remote employees and today’s hybrid workforce. The App allows Go365 members to view personalized dashboards and access virtual coaching resources, wellness Challenges and other helpful resources to support health and well-being.

To find out more about Go365 or EAP, contact your licensed Humana sales agent or request more information about these wellness programs by filling out this formOpens in new window.

Go365 is not an insurance product and is not available with all Humana health plans. This is a general description of services, which are subject to change. Product features may vary by client. Please refer to Customer Support for more information.

These non-insurance services are provided by Humana EAP and Work-Life Services. This is a general description of services which are subject to change. Please refer to your Human Resources contact for more information.

Personal information about participants remains confidential according to all applicable state and federal laws, unless disclosure is allowed by such laws.

Sources:

1Ryan Wolf and Adam Hickman, “How to Keep Remote Worker Wellbeing High,” Gallup, last accessed October 2, 2021, https://www.gallup.com/workplace/288722/keep-remote-worker-wellbeing-high.aspxOpens in new window.

2Miles Varn, “Strategies to encourage remote employees to use wellness benefits,” Employee Benefit News, last accessed October 2, 2021, https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/ways-to-encourage-remote-employees-to-use-wellness-benefitsOpens in new window.

3Marielle Leon, “10 Easy Wellness Program Ideas for Remote Workers,” Glassdoor, last accessed October 2, 2021, https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/wellness-programs-remote-workers/Opens in new window.

4Nicole Garrison, “8 Wellness Ideas for Remote Workers,” Firsthand, last accessed October 2, 2021, https://firsthand.co/blogs/workplace-issues/wellness-ideas-for-remote-workersOpens in new window.

5“Strategies to encourage remote employees to use wellness benefits.”

6“Engaging Remote Employees in Their Health and Workplace Wellness Programs,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed October 2, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/initiatives/resource-center/case-studies/engaging-remote-employees.htmlOpens in new window.

7“Engaging Remote Employees in Their Health and Workplace Wellness Programs.”