Improve Employee Experience by Making Well-Being Culturally Relevant

(Article by Puja Lalwani originally appeared in HR Technologist)

On Aug. 19, 2019, Limeade, a leading employee experience software company, launched its expanded Global Well-Being Activity Library. The library now comprises 125 activities that are relevant to employee well-being across various (organizational) cultures, languages, and personal ability. How can organizations use technology such as Limeade’s to develop a universal definition of well-being and improve the overall employee experience?

We currently live in an era of a growing employee-first mindset. Organizations world over are beginning to look towards employee engagement, wellness, and the overall employee experience as measures to improve productivity and satisfaction in the workplace.

In fact, just two days ago, the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of America’s largest companies, redefined its statement on the purpose of a corporation from increasing shareholder value to committing to investing in employees and offering increased value to customers, among other things.

When executives world over have begun to realize the value of employees, it’s time for organizations large and small to take note and function in that direction. Building a culturally relevant employee experience by focusing on well-being is just one way to do just that.

Limeade ONE, the platform that offers global, culturally relevant benefits, is ideal for organizations with a global workforce. The company recently announced its expanded global well-being activity library. These organizations can build an overarching company culture that focuses on employee well-being while enabling the creation of a culture that is specific to the region that the company functions in.

How Limeade Created a Platform Suited for a Global Workforce

The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines workplace well-being as well-being in all aspects of work-life, “from the quality and safety of the physical environment, to how workers feel about their work, their working environment, the climate at work and work organization.”

This indicates that focusing on individual workplace culture, even if it is part of a larger organization, is imperative to ensure employee well-being.

In conversation with Dr. Laura Hamill, Chief People Officer and Chief Science Officer of The Limeade Institute, we learned how Limeade created an array of benefits suited to people across cultures.

She tells us, “The Limeade Institute started by identifying the universal elements of well-being that transcend cultures. Findings uncovered five universal components of well-being.” These components are, according to Dr. Hamill:

1. Social: Social factors comprise loving relationships that offer emotional support and security.

2. Community: From friends to religious groups or associations that allow you to give back, the community helps offer a sense of purpose and overcome negativity.

3. Financial: At its very essence, financial well-being involves earning income allowing for basic needs that support overall well-being.

4. Career: Well-being in this area is seen through a positive relationship between job satisfaction and personal satisfaction.

5. Physical: This involves addressing the detrimental effects of disease and taking preventive health measures.

In addition, the platform focuses on physical, mental, and financial well-being, offers translations in 13 languages, provides activities and topics that are globally relevant, and that backed by scientific research.

Talking about how the global definition of well-being differs across cultures, Dr. Hamill offers an example: “The most prominent distinction between Eastern and Western perspectives is that Western societies tend to be individualistic, while Eastern societies tend to be more collectivist. Other differences between Western and Eastern cultures include self-enhancement vs. self-transcendence, satisfaction vs. contentment, and avoiding suffering vs. valuing suffering.”

Such vast differences make it essential to identify cultural differences across individuals and organizations to deliver a personalized employee experience.

How Do You Benefit from Focusing on a Culturally Relevant Employee Experience?

As Limeade puts it, “For employees with disabilities, a steps challenge may feel isolating. To employees outside the U.S., a 401k challenge might seem inappropriate. These nuances abound, but most well-being programs are driven by American perceptions of well-being.”

For a globally relevant workplace experience and employee experience, the expansion to a global library of activities was essential. When you place microfocus on the employee experience, it is likely to offer benefits that translate into overall business growth and improvement of the bottom line.

For instance, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine studied how companies achieved savings by getting employees to participate in health programs. The results showed that employee productivity increased and eventually contributed 10.3 additional productive hours compared to their non-participating colleagues. This translates to an average saving of $353 per person per year.

How Can Employees With Global or Diverse Workforces Define Well-being?

Dr. Hammill offers some meaningful suggestions for organizations looking to offer a culturally sound employee experience through personalized employee well-being.

1. Perform a Self-assessment

Any organization looking to start on a well-being program for its workforce should begin with a self-assessment, suggests Dr. Hammill. “In distributing such an assessment, we need to be thoughtful about not only focusing on language translation, but perhaps, more importantly, ensuring that well-being components are culturally relevant and accepted,” she adds.

A platform like Limeade can help unite employees from different backgrounds and create a sense of belonging in a diverse workforce.

2. Identify a program or platform that offers tailored wellness programs

“Look for programs that enable user experiences tailored to the specific country/geographical culture as needed and enables you to target your assessment and programs to different cultural contexts,” mentions Dr. Hamill.

She also recommends involving leadership to implement and sponsor such programs to improve participation and enhance overall workplace wellness.

Any platform dedicated to employee well-being should be able to offer insights and analytics into participation rates, completion rates, and success rates. Only then will you be able to evaluate whether your effort is proving useful.

3. Protect employee data

As parting advice, Dr. Hammill stresses on maintaining employee data privacy when implementing a well-being program: “Make sure to consider data privacy laws that could impact your ability to ask certain well-being questions. For example, under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we are limited in the kind of data we collect (i.e., health risk questions, physical well-being questions) and how these data are handled.”

An Improved Employee Experience Relies on an Improved Workplace Culture

The employee experience is defined even if you don’t actively work towards defining it. But when you actively work towards building an employee experience worth remembering – by making well-being locally relevant or establishing well-being at a scale that is acceptable for every employee, for example – it helps employees feel cared for, reduces burnout, helps organizations create a positive work culture, and as seen from the study above, improves productivity.

Have you considered improving the employee experience by delivering a globally and culturally relevant wellness program? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. We would love to hear from you.