Company Culture

DC’s Chamber of Commerce has new suggestions for supporting employee wellness

The agency's new report offers tips for improving overall employee wellbeing. On the list: constant check-ins, supporting financial health and making sure practices start from the top down.

Angela Franco is the CEO and president of the DC Chamber of Commerce.

(Courtesy photo)

How can you boost employee health and wellbeing? With the help of fresh data, DC’s Chamber of Commerce has some advice.

A new report from the chamber and DC Health looked at strategies for improving mental and physical wellbeing in the workplace. Following various studies from employees and employers, the report found five main suggestions for creating a healthier workplace. And with a healthier workplace, DC Chamber CEO and President Angela Franco said, employers can potentially improve productivity and retention among their workers.

For its report, the Chamber and DC Health interviewed employees of over 30 companies of varying sizes, including HR professionals, in a focus-group setting. Participants were asked about topics such as workplace equity, mental health, physical health, benefits, flexible work schedules and financial health, Franco said.

The report recommended that your own workplace’s first step should involve making sure wellness comes from the top down. Franco suggests replicating this by doing informal and formal check-ins with management, as well as working to connect with the overall community.

“It starts at leadership and moves from the leadership down,” Franco told Technical.ly. “We, as leaders, need to make sure that we’re conscious about the importance of health and wellness in the workplace. ”

The report has four other main suggestions for employers looking to improve overall wellness:

  • Continually take inventory of both employees’ needs and resources for them. This can be anything from an open-door policy for complaints to one-on-one meetings with staff, while also taking stock of the resources that the company offers.
  • Encourage engagement and participation from employees by empowering them to take advantage of resources and health-related benefits. Ask them for their thoughts on current offerings, too.
  • Implement wellness support in both formal and informal activities. When creating them, the chamber suggests thinking about the unique aspects of your company’s culture to make sure activities fit in.
  • Continually evaluate with satisfaction or “pulse surveys.” The chamber suggests short, frequent surveys that let employers keep track of the programs and whether or not employees are satisfied. This could also take the form of regular meetings to assess policies and resources.

All of these pillars, Franco said, are important for employees to feel comfortable saying that they need a break or they would prefer to work from home for a few days for their own wellbeing. And as a leader, she said it’s important to even suggest employees take time off, work from home or take advantage of other resources to help themselves.

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Alternatively, it might be important to give employees an option to speak with someone besides their manager or company leader. This could mean emphasizing HR options or giving employees the ability to speak to a third party if the company lacks a specific health program that offers paths to get emotional support.

“The most important thing is really to create an environment where people are comfortable and they can speak and share the way they feel,” Franco said. “You don’t want an environment where everybody’s scared and tense, they’re afraid of going to work, they’re afraid of saying something.”

For this report, Franco said the chamber wanted to focus on both mental and physical health and wellness following the pandemic-inspired new emphasis on these concerns. At the Chamber, she sometimes brings in speakers to talk about mental health and stress who can converse with employees; She thinks this is a great place for employers to start if they’re looking to support employees.

“We’re much more mindful of the importance of keeping a balance in being emotionally stable, emotionally healthy, physically healthy and financially healthy,” Franco said.

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