Wellness is one of the biggest issues in these times. Because of COVID-19, many people have been stuck at home and their normal lives disrupted by quarantine, social distancing measures, and a shift to a more digitally-based workplace. For all the “positives” that remote working has been touted for, this forced change has, unfortunately, created a new problem called “presenteeism”, which has affected productivity and retention in the company.
Presenteeism – a condition where workers feel disconnected and when they are working while unwell – is a growing trend in the workplace affecting many workers, potentially costing money. And because of the current work situation being forced upon people during this crisis, without any chance of alleviating the stress through out-of-office worker gatherings, the problem has become more poignant.
One of the greatest disadvantages of remote working and being isolated from the rest of the workplace team is being lonely and missing interaction in the office. This contributes to a deterioration in the employee’s mental health, resulting in a reduction in productivity and making retention difficult. And for HR, not even being able to have face-to-face time with employees that need their help can be very challenging.
Wellness apps are not new. On a personal level, they increase the work-life balance of individuals making them happier and more satisfied with their current lifestyles. Work wellness apps take the best of personal wellness apps and integrate them into the corporate dossier to help management keep track of how their employees are doing and even tie them up with rewards and incentives.
Work wellness apps focus on different aspects of employee wellness and extend the value of a company’s benefits management system. Companies are also able to improve employee satisfaction by being able to access company benefits in the form of an app anytime, as opposed to just when they are sick. More importantly, when tied to employee benefits, employees can make the decision on their own to take care of themselves in order to reap the incentives and rewards.
According to the Center for Disease Control report, the mental health toll due to COVID-19 has had a significant increase with two in five residents struggling with mental or behavioral health issues. Because of this, HR practitioners have to become more flexible and savvy in looking for ways to take care of company employees, especially when face-to-face interaction is either limited or impossible.
Thankfully, technology is HR’s ally in the battle to keep employees happy. Wellness apps can bridge the gap in remote working environments and reduce the risk of presenteeism in their employees. Used right, mere hobbies such as exercising, charity donations, and even online social groups can be turned into resources that can motivate employees despite the constraints being laid down by the pandemic.
Different kinds of workforce wellness apps
For example, educational wellness apps give information on the importance of adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. These educational apps interpret and report personal health information with personalized feedback for both the employee and the company.
Another example are social support apps which help people who are experiencing isolation. This wellness app is key to successful long-term behavior changes since our very nature as human beings seek social interaction and support from others. These apps go beyond the usual social media connection and actually form digital avenues where those who feel lonely, isolated, and helpless can find encouragers and sources of information that can help them rise from the doldrums they feel they are in.
Then there are the financial wellness apps. Financial management (or the lack of it) is often tied to mental health, as the increased stress of financial strain can take a toll on employees. These apps can help employees in their financial planning to make sure they live a financially secure lifestyle. They also provide them options and tips on how they can cut their spending, boost their savings, and invest for a brighter future. These are generally user-friendly and laymanize technical financial terms such as stock investment into terms and language that the average working person on the street can understand and implement.
No matter what policies companies employ, HR practitioners should be ready and able to do what they can to help employees adjust to their circumstances. Wellness apps can help bridge the gap that suddenly opened with the increased isolation that has been happening due to the pandemic. When fully utilized, HR can definitely increase employee satisfaction and retention.