Free Employee Wellbeing tutorial, Flexible work hours, health insurance plans, yoga classes... Companies increasingly rely on benefits like these to boost employee wellbeing. By introducing such perks, employers feel confident that staff gains better work-life balance and feels more positively about their jobs and workplace. But a recent Gallup report showed that 76% of employees have admitted experiencing symptoms of job burnout for reasons ranging from poor management to unmanageable workload to unfair treatment at work. Sadly, the gloomy stats don’t stop here.
According to a CIPD 2020 survey report about Health and Wellbeing at Work, there has been a 37% increase in stress-related absence at work since last year (absenteeism), and 89% of employees said that they have worked while feeling unwell (presenteeism). Also, a McKinsey source states that workplace stress costs employers in the US nearly $200 billion every year in healthcare expenses.
So despite all the fancy perks and activities companies plan, employees do still get overly stressed at work. This negatively impacts both their mental and physical health. Sometimes, they may request sick leave to disconnect from their duties and recover. In other cases, struggling with bandwidth and work commitments, they might feel an extra urge to work even despite feeling under the weather. These issues do not only affect individual wellbeing, but also the business as a whole through decreased productivity and performance.
Blessings of employee wellbeing
The employee wellbeing definition refers to the state of employees’ mental and physical health, resulting from dynamics within – and sometimes outside – the workplace. These include their relationships with colleagues, use of tools and resources, larger business decisions that impact them and their work, and many other factors. In business terms, securing employee wellbeing can translate to:
More productivity: Employee wellbeing boosts productivity and performance. When feeling well, employees display healthier behaviors and better decision-making.
Higher employee morale: Employees feel more competent and valued when their needs are met at all levels, including physical, mental, and financial.
Better talent: When your company has a good reputation in the market as an employer who respects and supports work-life balance, you’re more likely to attract skilled candidates and retain your existing employees for longer periods.
Improved CRM: Happy employees are your best brand ambassadors. If you treat them well, that positive energy will pass on to your customers. Those employees will be motivated to understand how your products and services will best serve customer needs.
To secure these assets, employers offer a wide range of benefits to employees such as:
Financial benefits – pension plans, income protection, etc.
Physical health benefits – life insurance, gym discounts, sick leaves, etc.
Mental health benefits – mindfulness meditation, coaching sessions, counseling services etc.
Work-life balance benefits – PTO, parental leave schemes, sabbaticals, etc.
But based on several business examples and the discouraging stats on burnout above, even when most of these aids are generously offered by employers, employees can still experience stress at work. This is why you shouldn’t perceive and face this problem as solely benefit-related as it’s more complicated than that.
Obstacles to sustaining wellbeing at work
The most common stressors that can negatively impact wellbeing at work are:
You probably have heard that employees quit bosses, not jobs. According to the CIPD survey mentioned earlier, a poor management style can increase employee stress massively. Take micromanagement as an example: having to explain every single nut and bolt of your daily task deliveries to your manager is inefficient and exhausting. It can also make the employee feel incompetent and unreliable.
Employees with heavy workloads due to understaffing or urgent business needs get often stressed about meeting deadlines. With less time to work on valuable projects, they often compensate for quality, and they worry that their results are inadequate. Helplessness, doubt and fatigue are the top feelings in such conditions.
Reduced social support
In order to thrive, employees need to be in a supportive environment that puts a positive value on effective collaboration and individual contributions. When competition is high and your performance is always compared to your peers’, lack in self esteem and toxic relationships arise, and can be difficult to resolve quickly.
Guidance in the form of training or mentoring, whether it’s practical (e.g. how to use a specific tool) or goal-oriented (e.g. what the end goal of a project is) is vital for employees to get the job done. Without clarity in work, employees feel confused and struggle in determining priorities or setting smart goals.
We sometimes overlook that work should be a positive experience; employees are not merely reinforced by their monthly paycheck to keep up the good work. The more they enjoy what they do and take pride in it, the better results they’ll deliver. So, if most of their daily tasks are dull, employees might feel less motivated to go the extra mile.
This list is not extensive. These are some basic constraints but remember, each of your employees has a different background and not everyone is driven by the same incentives and events. For instance, some people find working in a competitive environment exhilarating, chasing bonus after bonus with excitement, while others would simply burn out in such an atmosphere.
Finally, common personal issues outside the workplace (e.g. a pregnancy, a relationship conflict, a death of a loved one, etc.) may also indirectly affect employee wellbeing. Background, preference, and personal factors indicate the complex nature of employee wellbeing. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to perfectly control all essential wellbeing elements because every single case is unique. However, you can take steps to ensure a healthy work environment for your employees.
Bridging the gap
In this video, leaders and employees from NextJump, Johnson & Johnson and USAA explained how their health wellness programs succeeded, leading to core benefits such as sales growth and high employee engagement