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July 14, 2023

What you need to know about employee well-being

Only 16% of U.S. employees are in a high state of well-being, according to a study done by Great Place To Work and John Hopkins University’s Carey Business School. This number is disappointing, especially considering how important workers are to the overall success of any organization.

CEOs are attempting to adjust their focus to changing workforce demands and priorities, but this process takes time and energy.

Why are so few employees doing well within their company, and what can business leaders do to improve their team’s overall health and happiness? We’ll answer these questions and cover employee well-being and workplace wellness in this article.

What does employee well-being encompass?

Well-being encompasses more than just physical health alone. While this is a big part of what this topic covers, employee well-being takes a more holistic approach to wellness. It is your employees’ overall mental, physical, social, and financial health. It can be influenced by various factors, including:

  • Financial troubles
  • Mental health struggles
  • Outside personal issues
  • Pay level
  • Relationships with coworkers
  • Stressful working conditions
  • The quality of the work environment or culture

Employee well-being and job satisfaction fluctuate from person to person, as each individual has their own set of circumstances and feelings surrounding work and personal life. Ideally, everyone’s situation would always average to a level allowing for a productive and healthy workplace.

Let’s look at each facet of employee well-being:

Mental health

Prioritizing mental health in workplace policies is pivotal for the longevity and well-being of your employees. Working conditions can have a large impact on job-related stress and anxiety. In fact, nearly two in five workers report that their work environment has a negative impact on their mental health, according to an American Psychological Association 2022 Work and Well-Being Survey. The data shows mental health issues are a critical element for focus by company leadership to encourage a better employee experience and lower health risks.

Physical health

Physical health focuses on how your employees take care of their bodies through movement, nutrition, and regular visits to the doctor. People that are regularly physically active are generally more productive. They also tend to have higher concentration levels, mental stamina, learning and memory skills, focus, and creativity. The CDC recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week, which could be split up however it works best for people. Taking a quick walk throughout the workday can help refocus your mind and lower stress levels which can, in turn, help to boost employee morale and lead to less burnout.

Social health

Social wellness is an often overlooked part of an employee’s overall well-being, but it’s integral to a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. People with high levels of social well-being often have better relationships and feel more fulfilled in their jobs. The amount of collaboration and team communication can heavily influence your employees’ social health. Encourage them to build and maintain connections with those around them.

Financial health

Financial well-being is about feeling secure with your finances, whether the economy is in a recession or is on a positive trajectory. While business leaders can’t simply raise everyone’s paychecks, they can provide financial resources and educational opportunities to promote financial literacy and best practices within the workplace. As your team feels more confident about their financial situation, they’ll tend to be more focused on their work and can perform to the best of their abilities.

COVID-19’s impact on employee well-being

While the pandemic’s impacts are less widespread than before it has still had a lasting impact on workers across the globe. COVID-19 caused many  to reevaluate their priorities, both personally as professionally. Many concluded that flexibility and better mental health benefits are vital elements as part of their professional lives.

Our recent study, 2023 Employee Benefits Trends: The Evolving Workplace, found that employees desire better mental and behavioral health benefits. In response, 67% of employers plan to offer more enhanced employee assistance in the near future.

Why does employee wellness matter?

The health and happiness of your team is priceless. The true value of employee well-being goes beyond simply the data and ROI of your business—it impacts every aspect of your organization. Not only are healthy employees better workers, but they provide an abundance of other benefits for your company, as well:

Employee retention

When people are happier in their jobs and feel healthier in all four areas of well-being, they’re more likely to stay at their company. According to Gallup, when employees are thriving, they’re 32% less likely to actively seek other job opportunities. And, because it’s much less expensive to keep employees from leaving than hiring and onboarding new team members, your company will save money in the long run.

High-retention workplaces tend to employ more engaged and loyal employees, getting more done throughout the work week. Also, people that feel valued will build closer relationships with their coworkers and with your clients, customers, or partners.

Improved trust

Trust may not be at the top of your list when considering important employee traits. However, employee trust is key to improving employee-employer relationships and keeping lines of communication open.

When employees know you care about their well-being, they will understand that you want what’s best for them. This, in turn, leads to them being more open and honest with you and cultivating a better work environment for the people around them.

Employee engagement

Team members who feel taken care of and important are more likely to show up to work (remotely or in person) ready to get things done. Well-being impacts people’s mindsets and their attitudes about the tasks in front of them. Feeling healthy impacts more than their physique—it positively influences their productivity and engagement levels.

Every interaction your employee has with your company impacts how engaged they are. And, engaged employees drive your team to success.

Taking initiative: How to boost employee well-being

As beneficial as good employee well-being is, it’s not always easy to positively impact your employees’ health within the workplace. It requires more than a single meeting or a discussion surrounding the topic. You must spring into action and make changes that will truly make a difference.

Here are some ways to improve employee well-being in your workspace:

Improve communication

Poor communication can lead to unmotivated employees lacking confidence in their decisions and not knowing what’s expected of them. Improve the way you talk to your employees by asking them intentional questions such as:

  • 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?

Also, leave space for your team to talk to one another to improve working relationships and boost collaboration. Host trainings to teach every person how to provide constructive feedback and respectfully communicate with one another.

Encourage physical activity

It’s easier for people to have time and space to move around or be active when they have flexibility throughout the work day. A quick walk around the block may benefit the employee’s mindset and productivity level more than sitting all day and working without a break. Create physical health initiatives and use uplifting language to motivate your workforce to be more physically active.

Provide financial education

Education is a powerful tool when it comes to finances. The more your employees know about their money and what resources are available, the more likely they will handle situations surrounding money with less worry. Give your team members high-impact information and learning opportunities so they’re ready in the case of a financial crisis or emergency.

Increase mental health benefits

Employee health and benefits policies are expanding to include more mental health-focused care. As the country continues to experience increased challenges regarding mental health, providing the appropriate amount of support for employees to access mental health benefits has become more of a focus and priority for employees.

In addition to widening health care benefits, training employees on mental health topics is essential so they know where to go or who to ask for mental health support. It can be frightening to bring this up without being prompted, leaving people suffering without help. Help your managers be more aware of and invested in employee well-being for the betterment of the team.

Building a successful employee well-being program

It’s easy for employees to prioritize their work over their health. Make team member well-being more prevalent by creating an employee wellness program. This is essentially a series of benefits and wellness initiatives promoting workplace health and well-being.

This program can look however you’d like, but here are some tips for getting started:

  • Include fitness activities: If your company works in offices, getting the proper amount of physical activity throughout the week can be difficult. Inspire all types of exercise by reimbursing employees for fitness-related purchases. You can also encourage your staff to form after-work exercise groups or use wearable technology that tracks movement and reward the most active people. Anything that will build people up and get them moving can be beneficial.
  • Focus on mental health and stress-release activities: Stress and mental health go hand-in-hand. While a doctor must diagnose and treat mental health disorders, stress-relieving activities can help people’s overall mindset and mental well-being.
  • Get feedback from your employees: A successful employee wellness program relies on listening to the people you're creating it for. Hear what’s working and what may need to be tweaked to make the employee assistance program a triumph.

Your employees deserve to have the best of the best health and benefits plan to boost their well-being and provide necessary resources. The health management consultants at Marsh McLennan Agency can deliver this to your organization, putting your team and their needs as a top priority.

Contact Marsh McLennan Agency today to work with one of our benefits specialists who can work with you to build an effective program for your business.