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June 12, 2024

What you need to know about employee well-being

Discover the importance of employee well-being and how to improve your wellness programs.

Only 16% of U.S. employees are in a high state of well-being, according to a study from Great Place To Work® and John Hopkins University's Carey School of Business. Considering how important workers are to organizational success, it's a disappointing statistic.

Why are so few employees doing well within their company? And what can business leaders do to improve their team’s health and job satisfaction? Continue reading to answer these questions and learn more about the value of enhanced workplace wellness.

What is employee well-being?

Well-being encompasses more than physical health alone. While an essential component, employee wellness takes a more holistic approach. It looks at your workers’ overall mental, physical, social, and financial health. Several factors influence employee satisfaction and well-being, including:

  • Financial troubles
  • Mental health struggles
  • Outside personal issues
  • Pay level
  • Relationships with co-workers
  • Stressful working conditions
  • Work environment or culture

Employee wellness varies because everyone has different circumstances, including individual feelings about work and personal life. Ideally, everyone’s situation would help to create a productive and healthy workplace.

The dimensions of employee well-being

Mental health

Prioritizing mental health in workplace policies is pivotal. These strategies affect how you can support your team members’ happiness and health. Working conditions can significantly impact job-related stress and anxiety. Nearly two in five workers report their company culture hurts their mental health, per the American Psychological Association. The data shows why mental health issues are a critical focus of company leadership. Improved initiatives can encourage a better employee experience and help lower health risks.

Physical health

Physical health focuses on how your employees care for their bodies by moving, eating right, and seeing the doctor regularly. Active people are generally more productive. They also tend to have higher:

  • Concentration levels
  • Creativity
  • Focus
  • Learning and memory skills
  • Mental stamina

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. Individuals can split this time in whatever way works best for them. For example, taking short walks during the day is an easy way for workers to clear their minds and reduce stress. Similar activities can boost job satisfaction and minimize employee burnout.

Social health

Social wellness is a part of well-being that people sometimes forget. However, it’s integral to mental, emotional, and physical health. People with high levels of social well-being often have better relationships and feel more fulfilled at work. Collaboration and team communication can greatly affect employees’ social health. Encouraging teams to build and maintain connections with those around them is crucial.

Financial health

Financial wellness is about employees feeling secure with their money. While leaders can't increase everyone's pay, they can offer financial resources. Offerings include learning opportunities to promote financial literacy and best practices. Financial confidence can lead to better focus and employee performance.  

Community health

Community health is about how everyone in the workplace and the community stays healthy together. Access to doctors or affordable, nutritious food are a few ways to foster group health. Many organizations encourage people to volunteer or support local projects. Community outreach can make employees feel like they're part of something bigger—more meaningful. Beyond keeping workers healthy, it’s about boosting connections with the people around them. Teams that care about the community are also more likely to attract talent in the long term.

Remember that social determinants of health significantly impact individuals' wellness outcomes. This involves income, education, and social support systems. Addressing gaps in health access is a critical component of supporting team members. It helps them feel a deeper sense of belonging and purpose, improving individual and community well-being.

Why does employee wellness matter?

The health and happiness of your team are priceless. The true value of employee well-being goes beyond data and the return on investment of your business—it impacts every aspect of your organization. Not only are healthy employees better workers, but they also provide several other vital benefits for your company. Fostering employee wellness leads to advantages that include: 

Employee retention

When people are happy and healthy at work, they’re more likely to stick around. Gallup reports that thriving employees are 32% less likely to seek other job opportunities. Because hiring and training new employees can be costly and time-consuming, employee retention saves money in the long run.

High-retention workplaces typically have more engaged, loyal, and productive workers. People who feel valued also build closer relationships with their co-workers, clients, and partners.

Improved trust

Trust may not be at the top of your list when considering important employee traits. However, this is key to improving workplace relationships and keeping lines of communication open. As a result, employees are more likely to be honest with you and make the work environment better for everyone else.

Employee engagement

Team members who feel cared for are more likely to show up to work ready to get things done. Well-being impacts people’s mindsets and attitudes about the tasks in front of them. Feeling healthy influences more than just physique but also productivity levels. Every company interaction impacts employee engagement. Ultimately, employee engagement can make or break your team’s success.

Boosted productivity

Simply put, healthy employees are more productive. Physical fitness and mental well-being affect the ability to focus and problem-solve. When employees feel good, they're better equipped to handle the demands of their jobs. They’re also happier and more engaged. Your organization can increase productivity by:

  • Encouraging regular exercise
  • Introducing opportunities for skill growth
  • Offering stress management techniques
  • Promoting healthy sleep habits
  • Providing access to mental health resources
  • Supporting a work-life balance

Enhanced company reputation

A commitment to employee wellness can improve your company's reputation. Enjoyable employee wellness programs can lead to positive talk about your company and make more people want to work there.

Employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of how outsiders view the organization. LinkedIn reveals that 75% of potential employees wouldn’t take a job from a company with a bad reputation. The same belief is true for individuals who do not have a job.

Decreased health care costs

Improving employee wellness can lead to cost savings in health care expenses. When employees are healthier, they are less likely to get sick. Ailments include long-term illnesses, injuries, or mental health problems that need intervention. Promote well-being with health measures like wellness programs, nutrition education, and smoking cessation. These efforts aim to reduce the rate of employees missing work, filing for disability, or using health care services too often.

Positive work culture

A positive work culture is a component that makes employees feel supported in their overall well-being. They’re more likely to feel valued, respected, and motivated. It also leads to better teamwork and improved employee morale, resulting in a more cohesive and successful organization.

What are the challenges of promoting employee wellness?

Well-being is becoming more important in employees' work lives than ever. Our 2024 Employee Health & Benefits Trends report found that workers want improved mental and behavioral health benefits. As a result, 67% of employers plan to provide better employee support in the future. However, here are a few hurdles that organizations face along the way:

  • Budget constraints: Limited money for wellness programs can make it hard for companies to offer all the benefits employees want.
  • Employee participation: Some employees might not participate in wellness activities. Lacking engagement can make it tricky to ensure everyone's involved.
  • Measuring impact: Figuring out if wellness programs help employees can be tough for companies to measure.
  • Personalization: Everyone has different needs. This variety can make it difficult to create wellness programs that fit everyone's preferences.
  • Privacy concerns: Companies must keep employees' health information safe when running wellness programs.

Taking the initiative to boost employee well-being

Improving employee well-being is valuable, but it's not always simple. It takes more than just one meeting or discussion. You must act and make real changes that empower workers' health. Here are ways to improve your workplace culture and wellness initiatives:

Improve communication

Poor communication can make employees feel unmotivated, unsure about their choices, and unclear about their roles. To communicate better with your team members, try asking intentional questions like:

  • Is your workload manageable?
  • What are your goals in this job?
  • What are your career aspirations?
  • Are you comfortable with your working environment?
  • Is there any way our company could better support you?

Create opportunities for your team to chat and strengthen their working relationships. Consider hosting training sessions where everyone can learn how to give helpful feedback and respectfully communicate.

Encourage physical activity

Giving people flexibility at work makes it easier to move around and stay active. Taking a short walk can boost an employee's mood and productivity more than sitting all day without a break. Encourage physical activity with wellness programs and positive language to motivate your team.

Provide financial education

Education is a powerful tool for financial wellness. Employees who understand their finances and available resources are less stressed. Give your team members valuable financial information and learning opportunities that prepare them for financial crises or emergencies.

Increase mental health benefits

The country is experiencing increased mental health challenges. Employee health and benefits policies are expanding to include more mental health care. Besides improved health benefits, teaching employees about mental wellness is critical. They need to know where to get help if needed. Some people may not talk about these issues unless asked—so they may struggle alone. Make sure your managers and HR leaders focus on employee mental health moving forward.

Organize team-building events and social activities

Team-building events and social activities help employees feel connected to their co-workers. It also creates a positive company culture. Stronger working relationships motivate employees to do their best. A few ideas to promote relationship-building include:

  • Scheduling team activities like group outings, volunteer opportunities, or friendly contests.
  • Throwing parties for holidays or having nights dedicated to playing games.
  • Having group lunches or breakfasts where everyone can hang out and talk.
  • Pairing experienced workers with new team members so they can learn from each other and get support.
  • Setting up workshops where the team can learn new things or try out hobbies together.

Everyone should feel welcome to join in on these activities.

Create a supportive company culture

A positive workplace culture makes sure everyone feels valued and cared for. Supported employees can become more motivated and work better together. There are several best practices for employers to achieve this:

  • Encourage open communication and teamwork, where everyone helps each other out.
  • Listen to your employees and take their concerns seriously.
  • Introduce employee recognition for big and small wins.
  • Invest in training and mentorship programs to help employees grow.
  • Offer flexible work hours or remote work options to support a work-life balance.
  • Provide mental health and stress management resources like counseling services or relaxation spaces.
  • Use employee surveys or one-on-one meetings to understand team members’ needs.

Building a successful employee well-being program

It’s easy for employees to prioritize their work over their health. To make well-being a priority, consider starting an employee wellness program. These programs introduce benefits and activities to improve workplace health and well-being. This program can look however you’d like, but here are some tips for getting started:

Include fitness activities

Getting enough physical activity throughout the week can be difficult for office employees. Inspire different types of exercise by reimbursing employees for fitness-related purchases. You can reward the most active people by encouraging them to form after-work exercise groups or using tools that track movement.

Focus on mental health and stress-release activities

Stress and mental health go hand in hand. A doctor must diagnose and treat mental health disorders. But, stress-relieving activities can help people’s overall mindset and mental well-being.

Use employee feedback

A successful employee wellness program relies on listening to employee feedback. Find areas of improvement to make the employee support program a triumph. This way, you can tailor your efforts to meet the team’s needs and preferences.

Promote nutritional awareness

An empowering program includes workshops or seminars that provide nutrition information. As a result, employees are more likely to eat better. It also helps to stock the office with nutritious snacks and drinks. Cooking demonstrations or recipe swaps are another way to make healthy eating fun and accessible.

Provide financial resources and support

Financial support can include budgeting workshops or access to money tools. To encourage participation, you could also offer childcare or transportation support. Some companies offer extra perks, like helping with college costs or discounts on local services.

Your employees deserve a great health and benefits plan that boosts their well-being and provides necessary resources. The health management consultants at Marsh McLennan Agency can help deliver this to your organization. Your team and their needs are our priority.

Contact us today to speak with one of our health management consultants who can help you build an effective well-being program for your business.

Reach out to a consultant today.