As we navigate the current year, it’s clear the workplace continues to evolve rapidly. From personalized benefits to meaningful support, employees want more – and they want it now. But looking forward, these changing demands won’t be short-lived. Ever since the pandemic, the needs of people in the workplace have taken different forms — often reflecting the immediate needs of the wider workforce.
In the world of working following a pandemic, companies are realizing one thing – those who go unheard and unsupported are prepared to jump ship. Patience has dwindled, and workers are standing up against poor employee experiences.
But this is something we’ll address in more detail later on. For now, let’s take a look at the need to prioritize workplace wellbeing.
Prioritizing health and happiness at work
Workplace wellbeing is best described as supporting the emotional, physical, social, and mental welfare of employees. It’s about giving them the tools to thrive in and outside the office — such as with an employee wellbeing platform.
It’s recognizing the role and responsibility of an employer and the positive impact that can be made for people within a company.
But why now? Well, that’s a good question. The reality is that workplace wellbeing has always been essential, just never a serious consideration for many businesses. It’s only in the aftermath of a pandemic and the obvious effects it has had on people that organizations are now stepping up their support.
Studying the Google Trends graph for “workplace wellbeing” over the past five years, it’s obvious there’s a growing but steady popularity around it – one that employers should lean into if they want to stay ahead of their competitors. Before 2020, interest was extremely different from that of the COVID-19 period and beyond.
In addition to a growing interest in workplace wellbeing, a survey of 15,800 US workers found that 33% feel their job has a “somewhat negative” impact on their mental health. Moreover, 7% said their jobs had an “extremely negative” effect.
Across the pond, there were approximately 30.8M lost working days in the UK in the 2021/22 year. However, stress, depression, and anxiety accounted for the biggest portion of the category. This demonstrates just how undersupported employees are and their impact on the overall economy.
So, it’s clear there’s very much a need to prioritize employee wellbeing in 2023. But what positives can come from investing in this space for companies? Is it genuinely worthwhile?
According to Deloitte, UK employers lose up to $71M per year due to poor mental health. However, it’s also estimated that for every $1.28 invested in mental health, employers will see an ROI of $6.78 on average.
Now that we’ve analyzed exactly why leaders must begin to prioritize workplace wellbeing, what exactly can be done? Here are our no-fuss suggestions for creating a culture of health and wellbeing that employees want to be involved in.
What can employers do in 2023 and beyond?
It doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg to improve workplace wellbeing. In fact, it’s more about making small changes here and there to really transform your offering. But remember, you must invest in personalized, meaningful ideas.
Workplace wellbeing isn’t about ticking boxes or offering generic initiatives. Below are a number of ideas to consider for an HR department.
First, wellness programs are a great initiative. They are essentially a platform or package that gives employees access to various wellness services, products, or experiences. Offering such a diverse range of wellness options creates personalization.
And that’s the key here when it comes to wellness in the modern workplace. Before investing in a wellness program, ask yourself the following questions:
Have we surveyed our team on their wellness needs?
Can our business afford a wellness program?
How can we measure the success of a wellness program?
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the considerations you should have as an HR leader before investing in a wellness program. Ultimately, it’s about making the best decision for your workforce.
Supporting employee stress levels
Next up, let’s talk about stress management. There are so many reasons to combat stress. It negatively impacts our productivity, performance, relationships, and ability to collaborate with others — not to mention it’s rather contagious.
To let stress take hold of an employee is to let it spread through your workforce. But just as there are reasons for stress, there’s also an abundance of ways to tackle it.
From stress workshops and relaxation sessions to duvet days, employers should get creative and find ways to empower employees. This usually means giving them the space and time to step back from duties.
What’s more, some flexible benefits platforms offer access to things like mindfulness apps and digital tools to manage and reduce stress. But as you’ve seen above, ample ways exist to help people manage stress without investing too heavily in a platform or program.
Finally, let’s talk about workload management — something that doesn’t receive enough attention in the workplace. In a survey carried out by MentalHealthUK, 1 in 5 felt unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work.
In the US, PRNewswire reported that 51% of employers recognize employee mental health issues as having affected their business in recent years; the message is clear, burnout is very much a problem around the globe.
But how can employers work with employees to maintain progress and productivity while also maintaining healthy workloads? It goes without saying that workloads must be reviewed on a regular basis to prevent unrealistic deadlines from creating anxiety and added pressure on employees.
Creating healthier, happier employees through workload management also requires better leadership. It’s crucial to have prioritization and delegation skills and empathize with team members.
It’s also vital to promote a culture of openness and honesty. By encouraging this in employees, they are more willing to come forward when they are struggling with their workloads and projects.
Hopefully we’ve given you a glimpse into the reasons why you need to invest in employee wellbeing. From personalized fringe benefits to better stress management, the opportunities to create healthier, happier teams are vast.
As HR and business leaders like yourself continue to navigate this year, it’s essential to constantly review your employee wellbeing strategy and focus on providing meaningful experiences that will help your business and team thrive.