Leveraging Employee Engagement Through Work-Life Balance

Employees tend to be more engaged when working for an organization that demonstrates a commitment to its employees and community. In this regard, companies that support work-life balance and the wellness of their employees are more likely to have loyal, satisfied and engaged employees. Reduced healthcare insurance costs, lower absenteeism and employee engagement are all key motivators for implementing an organizational wellness program.

With employee engagement as a key motivator, IKON Office Solutions implemented a three-phase approach in 2008 to educate employees about wellness while also encouraging employees to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.


Phase 1—Create Excitement!

In an effort to jumpstart our wellness initiatives and stir up some enthusiasm, IKON launched the New Year/New You Wellness Challenge on January 1. The rules were simple: be active at least 30 minutes per day, three days per week and/or incorporate healthy choices into your current lifestyle for the Challenge period (January through March). The expectation was not that employees would suddenly begin a strenuous exercise regimen, but rather that they would make an effort to incorporate simple steps to improve their health and fitness. We offered suggestions such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the door at work, substituting water for soft drinks, quitting smoking and eating more fruits and vegetables.

The Wellness Challenge was launched as an IKON-wide initiative, but we allowed for creativity within each of our individual Areas. We recommended the creation of local Champion Teams comprised of employees who would enthusiastically support and drive wellness initiatives. This was meant to reduce human resources responsibility while also encouraging employees to support each other in taking small steps toward total wellness. Area participation was not required, but the benefits of implementing wellness initiatives to both employees and the organization were communicated to all business leaders.

Although we wanted to reward employees for their efforts, it was important that incentives were not the primary motivating factor. IKON maintained a minimal budget with the stipulation that area leaders would also be permitted to provide incentives to promote local initiatives. At an enterprise level, we tracked monthly participation through the use of an internal survey program. Monthly participants were entered into a drawing for fitness-related gift cards. Employees who successfully completed all three months of the Wellness Challenge were entered into a drawing for additional gift cards and the grand prize of a Wii game system.

The New Year/New You Wellness Challenge demonstrated a commitment to the health and well-being of IKON’s employees, created enthusiasm and increased employee engagement. Area leaders supported this initiative through the implementation of many creative programs such as "Biggest Loser" contests, participation in local run/walks, wellness carts, healthy luncheons, walking clubs, "boot camps," etc. Employees were further encouraged and educated through the use of the weekly "Tips & Hints," which were disbursed via e-mail to all employees.

The final results were impressive—nearly 1,500 employees participated in all three months of the Challenge, employees lost 2,800 pounds collectively and 47 people quit smoking! The most significant statistic was that 100 percent of the participants indicated they would continue making healthy choices.

Phase 2—Maintain the Momentum

With the success of the Wellness Challenge came IKON’s next step, maintaining the momentum already created. To further foster a culture of employee health and wellness, we implemented a strategy to include ongoing education and continued support of wellness initiatives.

While our ongoing education needed to be engaging, pertinent and of interest to employees, it was also important that the information be easily administered and accessible to everyone.

Work-Life Web Site

We updated the IKON Work-Life Web site to include current wellness information and links to internal and partner resources available to our employees. Through IKON’s partnership with an external vendor, we are able to offer an online informational support system. This site provides a repository of articles, videos and interactive tools designed to help improve the work-life balance and wellness of all employees with topics such as disease management, exercise and fitness, prenatal health and healthy eating. The Work-Life Web site also describes and invites employees to complete wellness-related learning courses available through our internal digital online training program.

In addition, the site was updated to include a personalized online health and wellness program to help employees discover convenient ways to achieve a healthier, more balanced life. Through this program IKON employees can complete a confidential online health assessment, view their personalized health report and action plan and select the program, tools and information that are most appropriate.

Wellness Education

The success of the weekly "Wellness Tips & Hints" offered the opportunity to continue providing educational resources for IKON’s employees. We continue to create and deliver the "Wellness Tips & Hints" documents, but have reduced the frequency to a bi-weekly distribution. Recent topics have included summer eating tips, preparing for back to school, healthy eating on a budget, exercising safely in the heat and sun safety.

In addition, we began the development and launch of a quarterly education series called Wellness Lunch-n-Learns. Topics are selected based on their alignment to the other initiatives being offered through our Benefits department and are typically seasonal in nature. Each Wellness Lunch-n-Learn series contains a PowerPoint presentation, links to related resources, handouts/job aids for distribution and talk tracks for the facilitator. For example, we launched a Vacation Planning Lunch-n-Learn in early summer that contained vacation planning tips, links to internal and external Web sites and resources and hand-outs with quick tips for effectively planning a vacation. Because of the tougher economic conditions, we also included tips for vacationing close to home and ways to make a "staycation" fun and fulfilling.

Wellness Challenge

The feedback from IKON’s first enterprise Wellness Challenge was so positive that we elected to kick off the summer months with our first Shape Up for Summer Wellness Challenge. Our approach was a bit more casual, but the intention was still the same: encourage employees to take small steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

Phase 3—Keep it Alive

We have learned first-hand the importance of keeping wellness and work-life in front of our employees during both "tough" times and "good" times. We have also learned that the focus will change depending on the current state of our employees.

The launch of our New Year/New You Wellness Challenge acted as a positive way to engage employees during the "tough" times as it showed a continued commitment to our employees’ well-being. This focus to wellness provided an opportunity for IKON employees to look more closely at their individual health and fitness while also incorporating some fun and competition in the workforce. Employees had a tendency to feel better about themselves because of the progress they were making—they were eating better, taking time to be active and quitting smoking.

Keeping the program alive requires that we keep our initiatives current and relevant. This means being aware of employee survey results, collecting feedback from the field and understanding the current climate of the organization. IKON’s focus on work-life and wellness can then be directed at those issues currently affecting our employee population, thereby improving morale and employee engagement.

First published on Human Resouces IQ.