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March 31, 2021

Reality #3: Employee well-being and inclusion

The 5 new realities of 2021


The past year brought on a perfect storm of anxieties stemming from the presidential election, social and civil unrest, a weak job market, severe economic contraction, and isolation—not to mention fears of serious illness or death by COVID-19. The pandemic forced companies to make abrupt shifts and left little time for employers to fully understand the disruption and stress this caused for employees.

These new strains, pains, and challenges have resulted in 42% of employees saying their mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic. But mental health is just one part of the puzzle. Only half of U.S. adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases. Social isolation and loneliness seem to be directly related to mortality and health concerns, and financial stress makes employees five times more likely to be distracted at work.

One-dimensional wellness programs no longer work in fully supporting and empowering employees. We are now seeing a strong shift by employers to strategically invest in whole person health that encompasses mental, physical, social, and financial well-being.

The encouraging news is that 57% of companies are offering additional health and well-being resources during these uncertain times. But there is still work to do when it comes to supporting total well-being strategies in the long term. For example, 81% of U.S. organizations are currently focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I), but only 38% have a multi-year D&I strategy.

Employee well-being and inclusion have never been more important. To ensure your organization is staying ahead of the curve, consider the following strategies:

  1. Examine your current state: Review well-being programs to identify which benefits solutions may have gaps or shortfalls that need to be improved, supplemented, or communicated differently to improve awareness and engagement.
  2. Start with telemedicine and EAP: You may already have resources that can help. Make sure you understand what behavioral health services may be available telephonically to help improve overall access issues.
  3. Don’t just focus on the physical: Having total well-being programs in place that focus on the physical, social, mental, and financial well-being of your employees will be key to helping them manage their whole self.
  4. Encourage a culture of openness: Let employees know that it is okay to speak up on topics such as mental health and being culturally competent and inclusive.

To learn more about the latest employee well-being and inclusion strategies, reach out to a local MMA representative to start a conversation.