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Health & wellness: Improve the efficiency of your team

May 28, 2021 - 9 min read
Joshua Ahn

Often used interchangeably and used in the same phrasings, Health & Wellness is best differentiated through the word relationship: Health is to Wellness as Goal is to Method. When we think of being healthy, everyone has a different perspective for what the end goal looks like, but we can all agree that health is important. A 2020 survey by Deloitte found that 80% of respondents identified health and wellness as an important contributing factor for their success. This data coincides with the global corporate wellness market of $52.8 billion in 2020, which is expected to grow to $90.7 billion by 2028. Corporate health & wellness programs have been widely accepted to improve employee’s well-being and overall productivity, but how has COVID-19 changed the wellness landscape?

When thinking of health and wellness, I’m reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Just as a quick refresher, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory that started as a 5 tier model. Those five tiers are composed of physiological needs, safety needs, love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. The theory behind these five categories states that the tier above cannot be achieved without the tier below being accomplished. Later, Maslow added three more categories to this hierarchy, resulting in an 8 tier motivational model.


I won’t be delving too deeply into the meaning of each category, but the point is that to reach peak creativity and work motivation, you’ll need to fulfill the basic needs and desires of your team. We’ll walk through what that looks like in today’s context, how to implement these practices, and what to expect as a result.

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The Challenge

COVID-19 presented a new challenge where team members were facing new mental and physical health stresses in a remote environment. With a variety of health concerns for a diverse workforce, the question to be asked is, “How do you develop wellness programs that will best support a diverse hybrid workforce?”.

When considering the approach towards investing in wellness programs, consider these six dimensions of Wellness:

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Spiritual


Physical wellness contributes to improving an individual’s physical fitness and contributes to an individual’s overall health by reducing the risk of disease. A problem to consider is unhealthy habits developed from COVID-19 constraints. A sedentary lifestyle with meal deliveries, closed shops, and closed gyms contribute to a growing need for physical wellness.


Intellectual wellness contributes to improving an individual’s mental health and contributes to maintaining motivation to work. A problem to consider for your engineering team is the declination of opportunities to learn new things with limited in-person events or programs. Decreased learning opportunities strongly correlate with increased retention rates, as engineers can feel their work become stagnant.


Emotional wellness contributes to improving an individual’s mental health and ability to handle stressful situations. A problem to consider for your remote engineering team is how home life can contribute to added stresses that would otherwise not exist with in-person offices. There is often a disconnect between team members in remote environments, as people are less likely to engage in candid conversations to talk about their daily stressors.


Social wellness contributes to improving an individual’s mental health and ability to interact with and contribute to the rest of the team. Fully remote team members experience difficulty in creating and developing relationships with the rest of their team, especially if they were hired during the pandemic.


Environmental wellness contributes to improving an individual’s work environment to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health. Varying work environments away from the office can be prone to sudden events or at-home stressors. Any distress caused by environmental factors hamper productivity and motivation.


Spiritual wellness contributes to identifying an individual’s purpose or meaning of existence. This includes religion or faith-based programs and developing an individual’s compassion, service, and contribution to society. COVID-19 has placed many people in a state of redefining their purpose as their social and work life have evolved over the past year.

The Solutions

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to health and wellness within your team. A buffet is a great (and ironic) example of how to approach health and wellness. Your team may have different needs when choosing from a list of wellness programs, but it’s helpful to start with various options and taper down your selection to target specific health goals. Talk with your teammates to identify which dimensions of wellness would support them best, then look to solutions designed to improve your team’s overall health. Here at Educative, we use several of these solutions to maintain and encourage the health and wellness of our teams. I’ll note any overlap between wellness dimensions to develop a more holistic view of each solution.

Create a culture of recognition and praise

Emotional / Social / Spiritual

Use communication channels or designated days to highlight work achievements within your company and team. Different communication channels can be used to highlight achievements at varying cadences. At Educative, we use “Thank-You-Thursdays” weekly and highlight work anniversaries monthly to build a culture of recognition and praise. With teams meeting remotely, giving and receiving comments of public praise promotes team collaboration and organic social interactions.

Scheduled social events

Social / Emotional / Physical

Regularly scheduled company-sponsored social events with healthy options for food will bring your team closer together. Plan team-building activities to help reduce stress and increase focus. At Educative, we have monthly meetings where we bring food together and play group activities. It helps to interact with team members that you rarely see and sets up an environment where you can hold natural conversations.

Incentivize Learning Opportunities

Intellectual / Emotional

Creating wellness programs centered around new learning opportunities with incentives will foster a growth mindset culture and support intellectual development within your team. For example, Educative Teams provides certifications tied with course completion, which an extra incentive within the company can accompany. By upskilling your developers with intellectual wellness opportunities, your team members will feel supported emotionally and confident in their career trajectory.

Create fitness challenges

Physical / Environmental / Spiritual

Create a steps or exercise challenge within your team, and add incentives or recognition for top performers. Challenging your team to improve their physical fitness will improve overall physical wellness and change the environment. Encouraging your team to take some time away from their screens and walk outside will break the monotony of working in the same domain.

Institute flexible and hybridized work hours

Environmental / Emotional / Social

Institutionalize flexibility with work hours and give your team the ability to work from home or in person. In 2020, Google unveiled their plan for flexible and hybridized work, which allowed their employees to choose between coming into the office or working remotely. Above all, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google & Alphabet, stressed the importance of flexibility to lay the foundation for future work. As part of this plan, Google announced certain months where their employees would be allowed to work from anywhere in the world. Flexible work environment weeks give employees a choice of environment and will enable them to maintain social wellness with holidays.

The Outcome

Health & wellness is widely accepted and recommended to improve team efficiency, yet it’s difficult to discern the amount of investment without measurable performance indicators. Based on surveys and research, companies across the globe have seen positive results through their wellness investments. Still, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends, 61% of participants failed to measure the impact of their wellness programs. Here are some findings that may indicate a positive return on investment for your wellness programs and give you performance indicators to measure success.

Reduced Turnover

A 2019 study conducted by Global Happiness Council showed a positive correlation between higher employee well-being and a 25% reduction in turnover rates. In addition, SHRM reports that costs associated with replacing an employee to be roughly 50% - 75% of their annual salary. Tracking turnover rates from previous years and comparing the numbers to subsequent years can give your organization a better assessment for cost-benefit analyses regarding health and wellness programs.

Reduced Absenteeism

According to the CDC, absenteeism cost US employers $225.8 billion annually. Reasons for absenteeism range from a variety of physical, mental, or situational causes. These include medical illnesses due to low physical activity, fatigue, lack of engagement, or poor work ethic. Aside from monetary costs, absenteeism deteriorates your team’s overall productivity and wellness. By developing wellness programs for physical activities, you’ll find a reduction in absenteeism costs corresponding to physical illnesses. Creating emotional or social wellness solutions helps reinforce your teammates’ mental health and lowers the risk of absenteeism due to depression or stress.

Increased Team Satisfaction

Seek opportunities to receive feedback from your team on their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with available wellness opportunities. Asking for feedback communicates your investment in your team’s health and helps your team feel supported. Time for feedback can range from candid discussions during one-on-ones or a formal survey across your team. Referring back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, your support for your team’s health gives them a solid foundation to invest in intellectual and self-actualization opportunities. All of which contribute to improving efficiency across your team.

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Wrapping up

At the end of the day, developing health and wellness opportunities for your team stems from your ability to empathize with their circumstances. Your health and wellness as a team leader matters just as much as your team’s and will strongly influence your perspective when deciding wellness strategies for your team. It’s an involved process that starts with understanding your team’s background and motivations to target specific health goals. You can implement many wellness strategies with disappointing results if you’re not catering to your team’s needs. Improving your team’s efficiency through health and wellness starts with assessing the buffet of options and intentionally tailoring those options to your team’s needs.

COVID-19 has brought so many unexpected changes and created uncertainty for what the future may hold. Keep up the excellent work in building your team up and stay flexible.

Happy learning!

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