Investing in Employee Well-Being Shouldn’t be Novel but the NormBy Shelley Pursell | Tue, 08/30/2022 - 16:00
Since 2020 work, personal and family dynamics have changed completely and even coexist in the same space. Given all these changes, it’s no surprise that mental health and wellness have become increasingly important, both at home and in the workplace. But still, many companies have not given employees the necessary support or resources.
According to estimates by the World Health Organization, 75 percent of workers in Mexico suffer from the effects of burnout, which can be easily identified through signs of exhaustion, distraction from daily work tasks and a negative perception about job duties. According to Prof. Jeffrey Pfeffer, Mexico ranks first for stressed workers; China is second.
In recent years, talking about employee well-being has become more and more common and, of course, with good reason. However, for many organizations it stops there: only 24 percent of workers believe that their employer actually cares about their well-being. It's important that we continue having these conversations but moving from conversation to action is critical to keeping employees happy, healthy and engaged.
Some companies have implemented new means of remote work, others have reduced working hours and some more innovate every day in the use of telecommunications technologies to carry out their activities. Despite these efforts to respond to global needs, it is necessary to recognize that anxiety among workers has increased due to the lockdown and disruptions to daily life.
Work plays an increasingly important role in the overall wellness of each individual. But it’s critically important to understand that wellness takes shape in many ways. Mental health is expected to feature prominently in the picture but there are five additional dimensions that should be considered to support employee wellness and help ensure that the individual needs of all team members are met.
1. Mental: Keep Emotional Well-Being Top of Mind
Providing space to support employee mental health should be a no-brainer at this point. The pandemic took such a massive toll on everyone, for different reasons, but giving folks a safe space to talk about what's on their mind helps create connection and build empathy across the organization.
To truly destigmatize mental health in the workplace, leaders must pave the way. For example, our CEO, Yamini Rangan, recently shared how she's been using our Modern Health benefit and the impact it has had on her life in a companywide all-hands meeting, spurring even more conversations across the organization.
2. Physical: Move Beyond Step Challenges
Wellness in the workplace often conjures up images of step challenges but perhaps the best programs for physical well-being are both more inclusive and impactful long term. From microbreaks throughout the day to health reimbursement opportunities and an emphasis on recharging and recovery, there are myriad ways to help employees prioritize their physical well-being.
A real-life example is that in our People Operations team meetings, we build in screen breaks to really prioritize and normalize making time to unplug, breathe or stretch. We’ve also found that hosting webinars on holistic nutrition and sleep help ensure employees have the opportunity to meaningfully prioritize their physical health both on and off the job.
3. Social: Build Pathways for Connection
If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that humans are social beings. The isolation many felt amid the pandemic is still a major concern for remote workers who may never actually meet their co-workers in person. Without those chance meetings in the hallways, we need to be proactive and purposeful in how we reach out to one another.
Nurturing authentic connections through ERGs, remote mixers and nonwork-related Slack channels helps create a sense of belonging that can make a world of difference, especially for those working from home.
4. Environmental: Support Sustainability Initiatives
More than ever before, employees see their company's sustainability efforts as paramount to their own job satisfaction. Working in a company that is positively impacting the world creates a greater commitment and sense of belonging.
Given the increasing importance of sustainability, we should be creating opportunities for employees to get involved internally and externally. Bottom line: by caring for the environment, you're caring for your employees.
5. Occupational: Offer Opportunities for Career Growth
Professional development may not seem as though it belongs on this list but it's crucial in ensuring that employees feel appreciated. Investing time and effort to grow their skill sets and support their career journeys has a positive impact not just on the employee but on your business as well.
Ending the stigma around mental health is the first step and now that we are getting closer to that reality, it’s time to put our money where our mouths are and actually build programming to support employees.