Over the last three years, there has been an increased focus by employers on employee wellness and health. And employee wellbeing initiatives have been adopted in some form in most organisations since the start of the pandemic.
Our WorkBuzz surveys show that around a third of organisations (37%) feel that employee wellbeing has remained consistent with last year. This is whilst 19% feel it has declined, and 29% feel it has improved. The mixed picture is reflected in comments from contributors, many relating their wellbeing gains or losses due to the pandemic and to remote working. But they also relate this to an increased awareness and interest in self-care.
For what reasons has employee wellness declined or improved?
Those that report poorer levels of wellness this year cite the post-COVID effect, a decrease in face-to-face interaction and the demands of ‘always on’ digital working. And on the other hand, others cite the cost of living. This includes the stress of managing fuel, heating, and food costs and an overall increase in bills.
For those reporting an improvement, respondents cite better and broader wellbeing interventions and a return to the physical workplace as the primary drivers. The most prevalent initiatives companies are putting in place include the training of mental health first aiders, training managers about employee wellness, encouraging employees to seek support and establishing wellbeing groups and communities. Flexible working and the removal of pressure to constantly work 9 to 5 are also reasons given for an improvement in wellbeing.
“We have more people taking mental health days, however, we believe that is due to greater emphasis on the importance of mental health and taking care of ourselves. Overall, sick rates have declined but this might be because people are working remotely.” – Survey respondent
What can you do to support employee wellness?
Consider current matters and look to the future
Given the cost-of-living crisis and a potential recession, it’s important that employers keep employee wellness at the top of the agenda. There is a risk that financial pressures will impact the mental and financial wellbeing of employees. This compromises productivity and contributes to employee churn as people leave for higher salaries elsewhere.
This creates an opportunity for forward-thinking organisations to learn from their response during the pandemic. Companies that were proactive in supporting employees to adjust to remote working, prioritised their wellbeing, and demonstrated authentic leadership, gave their employees meaningful reasons to stay and enhanced their employer brands. In doing so, they insulated themselves against talent shortages in the wider labour market.
Communicate what wellness support is available
Promote what services are available to your teams in conversations or in team catch-ups. This is how managers can and should be actively promoting employee wellbeing. Managers who use these services and not being afraid to vocalise this will then set a good example.
Allowing employees to access this wellness support in more than one way, will allow those who need it to be able access these resources as they see fit, and around their own circumstances. Make sure that your approaches are also aligned to your approach to hybrid and flexible working. This will make it fair for everyone.
Do your research
Bring together people and teams from across your organisation to share their experiences and understanding of employee wellness. This is the best way to develop the support that employees need. Don’t make assumptions on what you think people will best benefit from.
No one has an infinite amount of time and budget. Therefore, chances are you won’t be able to put in place everyone’s employee wellbeing support ideas. So, you need to know what to prioritise. And most importantly, you need to know what’s going to have the most positive impact on your team.
For more ideas on how you can support the wellbeing of employees at your organisation, have a read of our blog, Easy initiatives you can implement to support employee wellbeing in 2022.
This article contains a snippet from our 2022 report on The State of Employee Engagement. This report draws on insights from our 400+ clients at WorkBuzz and research conducted with 300+ people and business leaders. It outlines their top priorities, best practices, and different perspectives to help you navigate an ever-changing world of work. Download the full version of the report below. You can also view all our other eBooks available to download here.