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October 2, 2022

Alecsandra Ioniță, Wellbeing.ro Specialist: How we motivate employees to return to the office full time… and like it

Seeing as companies have already given directives that, beginning with this autumn, employees should return to the office three days a week or even full-time, an HR retention strategy needs to be considered, including investing in attractive programs for employees, in order to motivate them to return.

One of the most accessed non-financial reward and staff motivation solutions is to invest in well-being programs, which are a proof of the company’s interest in terms of the balance between employees’ personal life and professional life. Multiple studies and research have shown that well-being programs conducted in companies all over the world bring physical, mental, and emotional benefits to employees, as well as financial benefits to employers.

The experts’ advice for companies that want to see their employees physically at the office again is to introduce small “happenings” at the office, that will spark their curiosity and pamper them at the same time, create that feeling of well-being, both on a personal level and as a team, and thus keep them coming back – from themed culinary activities to ad hoc sports classes. Also, organizations should be as open as possible to receiving suggestions about ways to retain employees, say experts.


Happy Employees, Profitable Companies


According to Alecsandra Ioniță, well-being program specialist and founder of Wellbeing.ro by SmartExperience, mental health, sport, and nutrition are the three basic pillars of a consistent well-being program with long-term results. The studies conducted by companies reveal that an employee is concerned with achieving balance in all three of these directions, which is why a holistic approach of this type of program is recommended.

“We all know it: personal development interferes with every aspect of our lives and cannot be separated from our professional life. Employees who feel valued and fulfilled or consider that their progress is one of their employer’s priorities will be more motivated and productive. Therefore, encouraging the employees’ personal development translates to encouraging them to become the best version of themselves, not only on a personal level, but also on a professional level,” explained Alecsandra Ioniță.

Moreover, the evidence that well-being programs have become a successful investment for companies in recent years is reflected in the improved employee productivity and performance, absenteeism reduction, higher employee retention rate, reduction of recruitment and training costs, a higher synergy in the company, and boosted commitment and loyalty to the employer.


Back to Office. Between Motivation and Creativity


The return of employees to the office this autumn challenge the HR departments that want to develop the most attractive retention programs.

“It’s a moment when we can perfectly combine creative play and the basic psychological needs of employees… and not only that. It all depends on the ability of the specialists to create unique events and delicate connections between the mental and physical health of people in companies. For example, the “Back to Office” concept – as we currently offer it to our partners – is a blend between workshops that promote well-being at the office and workshops that bring us culinary joy,” explained Alecsandra Ioniță.

Real creativity implies creating amazing things out of small pieces, doing it with enthusiasm, and bringing joy through it all, the specialist believes.

“We propose to our partners to turn the “Back to Office” moment into a “Harvest Day” full of surprises. We welcome employees with seasonal fruit stands, grape must, pumpkin pies, and arts and crafts workshops with materials from nature: wreaths of willows decorated with dried and dehydrated fruits. They are very successful because these types of office events make employees want to come back,” says Alecsandra.

As for the activities designed for the personal development of the employee, some of the most required workshops by companies in Romania at this time of the year include acting and improvisation; diction; style and personal image; storytelling; creative writing; public speaking; emotion management. They take place at the companies’ headquarters, usually after working hours, and are delivered by external trainers, professionals in their fields.

Employee benefits from well-being programs include reduced stress levels and stress-related problems, improved physical and mental health, increased energy and productivity, better self-management, a positive and optimistic attitude, boosted self-esteem, and teamwork spirit.


Lessons from the Pandemic: Catching Attention


The well-being industry has developed considerably during the pandemic, and it continues to grow. With companies in the past two years reallocating their training and teambuilding budget towards the organization of online well-being seminars – being sincerely concerned about the health and balance of the employee in a completely atypical time –, in the last weeks, there has been a migration from “home office” to “head office” so that, currently, more than 80% of the well-being workshops are organized at the companies’ headquarters, and the remaining 20% are delivered online or in a hybrid format.

“The activities in the well-being field that still happen online today are those in the area of mental health, as they address a large number of participants – that is, the conferences. They are a good method of reaching as many respondents as possible, who have problems with adapting to hybrid work. The topics discussed are those which raised the highest interest over the last two years: burnout, interpersonal relationships, stress management,” mentioned Alecsandra Ioniță.

As to the webinar experience, Alecsandra Ioniță believes that the pandemic has provided an opportunity to rethink and improve the structure of this type of workshops.

“Studies have shown that people’s concentration in virtual teaching drops every 7 minutes unless there is a change in the method or way of delivery. So, we complied with the demands of the employees, read all the studies released on the market in the United States, reduced the amount of information delivered, and adapted the structure of the workshops, introducing more elements to capture attention: polls, thinking games, trivia type questions,” explained Alecsandra Ioniță.


About Alecsandra Ioniță


Alecsandra has 13 years of experience in marketing, communication, and sales, in entrepreneurial companies, multinational companies and NGOs, and has focused her activity in the past 14 years on specialized wellness consulting. In 2010, she founded the Wellbeing.ro division of SmartExperience, the first company to adopt an integrated approach to well-being programs, combining classic training methods and connecting trainees with the activities carried out through the most interactive methods.

Alecsandra Ioniță’s professional career includes executive and decision-making roles in the management of companies such as: Washington Group International, Karl Heinz Dietrich, La Strada Deco, and Calea Victoriei Foundation, from industries like logistics, FMCG, and NGO.

Alecsandra Ioniță has a master’s degree in “Publicity and advertising” at the Bucharest National School of Political and Administrative Studies. She graduated from the Faculty of Business Administration, the Romanian-American University, and the Faculty of Foreign Languages, “Lucian Blaga” University in Sibiu.


About Wellbeing.ro – www.corporate-wellbeing.ro


Established in 2010, Wellbeing.ro by SmartExperience is the only company in the Romanian business landscape that offers employers a full range of well-being services, from 2-hour workshops at the company’s headquarters to well-being retreat type activities that last up to one week.

The division currently has over 70 facilitators who support the organization of over 110 types of workshops offered to corporate clients. The facilitators come from various fields of activity (acting, illusionism, gastronomy, fine arts, personal development, fashion), where they are acknowledged for their talent and experience.

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