Whole person well-being — physical, emotional, work and financial well-being — isn’t a new term to the HR industry. Life is a balancing act of work, relationships, family, finances, hobbies and more, and acknowledging that every person has multiple roles in both work and life — and that they’re all connected — is becoming more apparent than ever in the workplace. With many HR professionals on board with the concept of whole person well-being, it’s no longer a question that it’s crucial to employee engagement, but more a matter of how to bring this approach to life in employee well-being programs. 

Creating an effective whole-person well-being program  

In its most simple form, well-being is feeling good and living with purpose. Feeling good refers to feeling healthy and happy, and living with purpose is about creating meaning, being intentional and actively thriving. It’s also subjective — our perceptions of someone else’s life circumstances can be very different from how they feel about their well-being. When it comes to creating a well-being program for your employees, it’s crucial to keep your employees needs and desires in mind, not just what you think they want or would like.  

At Limeade, we believe that the best companies invest authentically in the well-being of their people. This leads to well-being improvement, perceptions of organizational support for well-being, and higher levels of employee engagement — which in turn leads to better business results. That means a broad view of whole person well-being is critical. Take our customer Brunswick for example. The manufacturer behind leading boat brands like Mercury Marine, Boston Whaler and Crestliner has always had employee well-being as a top priority. But when the clinical wellness program in place was siloed and focused on risk reduction instead of real employee engagement, it was time to move away from the traditional outcomes-based program and focus on a more holistic approach. 

With the help of Limeade insights on engagement, well-being, health, burnout risk and more, Brunswick deployed relevant activities to employees based on demographics, risk areas and topics they’ve specifically shown interest in. They also introduced manager challenges, targeted engagement report cards and additional strategies for promoting well-being within teams. The new and improved whole-person well-being program conveys a sense of care, accounts for shift-based schedules, activates manager support and brings company values to life. 

A whole-person approach is not only good for your people, it’s good for business. In fact, in a study conducted by the Limeade Institute with employees representing various industries, those with high well-being and high organizational support were 91% favorable on their intentions to stay in their organizations. Here are three actionable tips to help you implement your own successful well-being program at your organization:  

1. Give managers the tools and flexibility to promote well-being to their team 

Manager support is crucial to the success of your employees — it’s also a great place to start when it comes to promoting well-being. According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in their team’s engagement. Get your managers on board as role models for well-being improvement by providing them with the tools and strategies to promote well-being to their team. Most employees say their immediate managers matter more than the C-suite when it comes to well-being support, so it’s up to managers to not only support and encourage team members but invest in employees for the long term. It can be as simple as recognition — calling out an employee in a team meeting for their great work — or allowing flexible work schedules to show you trust employees to get their work done on a schedule that works for them. 

2. Shift toward intrinsic forms of motivation 

Monetary rewards, prizes and perks have been the headline of well-being programs for years. But personal values, culture and company mission are now at the forefront. A new survey from Glassdoor found that a company’s culture matters more than salary when it comes to job satisfaction. Quick cash and fleeting perks don’t truly lead people to want to improve their own well-being for the long term. Shift your program toward intrinsic forms of motivation — meaning, choice, fun, enjoyment, passion — to create a program that employees feel is for them, not one that’s done to them. When you treat employees like assets rather than risks, it shows you truly care about their well-being. Start by removing financial rewards and focusing on inspiring rewards such as donations to charity, team-building activities, time with leaders or even paid time off. 

3. Create a culture of care 

Your organization’s culture plays a huge role in well-being improvement, and it’s often the missing link. The data is clear: When employees believe they have support from their organization, they’re more likely to have higher well-being. Foster an intentional culture that supports well-being by setting standards for employee behavior built around cultural attributes like flexibility and transparency. Focus on creating a culture where your employees know you care and use your well-being program as a way to operationalize that. 

Create a shared vision of your company’s culture with employees and align it to your business strategy. Want to build a collaborative work environment? Draw peer feedback instead of ranking employees against one another. Need to boost manager support? Offer tools and resources to leverage communication efforts and open the doors to transparent, open 1:1s with employees. A caring culture requires a thoughtful, holistic approach to showing employees they’re valued on a daily basis — through well-being initiatives, an intentional culture and connection between the employer and employee.

Human beings are complex. There are so many aspects of our lives that contribute to our overall well-being, whether that’s financial stability, mindfulness, feeling a sense of purpose from your work, the flexibility at work to juggle family responsibilities or the option to work remotely, join an employee resource group or share personal hobbies outside of the office. A successful well-being program needs to address all facets of the human spirit. And because of this, a whole-person approach to well-being is needed now more than ever in employee programs. From manager and organizational support to culture and intrinsic motivational drivers, a successful well-being program has many layers. While the challenge of a great well-being program is huge, a whole-person approach will set you up for success, and the payoff will be even bigger.