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The Complete Guide to Fostering Employee Wellbeing at Work

18 min read
Published on 26 May, 2020

Workplace well-being has become increasingly important in achieving long-term success with today's dynamic corporation landscape. The definition of employee well-being goes beyond physical health; it encompasses mental, emotional, and social aspects that lead to a holistic sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Employee well-being is not new but has seen steep growth in recent years. You can directly influence your employees' emotional, physical, and mental well-being. To succeed, employers know that employee wellness is essential to the success of their businesses.

Every year around 4.3 days per employee are lost to sickness and injuries, a report by the Office of National Statistics.

48% of U.S. employees experienced stress a lot of the day prior, and 17% experienced anger, according to a May 2023 Gallup poll. Only 23% of employees take breaks during their work hours, according to a report by the Science Daily.

"If we leave the human factor out of our business calculations, we shall fail every time.,- said by William.H.Lever, founder of Lever Brothers."

Employees spend most of their time at work; hence, it becomes the employer's duty to ensure their employees feel secure, happy, and productive. A survey by Wealth at Work found that 53% of employers agreed to be responsible for employees' wellbeing. As workplace wellbeing has become a pervasive issue, every other company is adopting various wellbeing approaches; one such is Corporate Wellness Programs.

This blog explores the significance of employee well-being, its impact on organizational outcomes, and strategies to foster and support a positive workplace culture.

What Is Employee Wellbeing In The Workplace?

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Before delving deeper into the "Employee Well-being," you must have a fair idea about well-being. Well-being or wellness is about the experience of overall emotions on how one feels and interprets a situation. It focuses on developing one's potential and productivity and contributing to a positive impact on society.

Employee well-being refers to employees' mental and physical health due to workplace dynamics. These include their relationships with colleagues, use of tools and resources, larger business decisions that impact them and their work, and many other factors.

Workplace well-being deals with all aspects of working life. Thus, employees' well-being is de facto the critical factor for long-term effectiveness. Again, according to a Gallup survey, employee well-being includes five core components -

1. Physical well-being - means that employees should have the essential health and energy to complete tasks at work.

2. Social well-being - means that employees should have a proper work-life balance to engage in healthy relationships both at and outside work.

3. Financial well-being - refers to the ability of your employees to achieve personal financial wellness goals successfully.

4. Career well-being - refers to employees' satisfaction with work responsibilities and how they spend their time at work every day.

5. Community well-being - refers to the feeling that your employees feel a connection with others or a sense of belonging in their place of work.

According to Alight's recent employee well-being study, there has been a significant decline from early 2020 to mid-2021, even as employees return to work at the office again.

Why Employee Wellbeing is Important for Organizational Success?

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Employee well-being is no longer just a buzzword; it's a cornerstone of organizational success. Research consistently highlights the direct link between employee well-being and key performance indicators.

Today's employees expect their employers to support them in living great lives. However, improving employee well-being isn't just about altruism. Organizations must recognize that employee well-being is a holistic concept beyond providing gym memberships or occasional mental health workshops.

"According to a study by Gallup, employees who experience high levels of well-being are more engaged, resulting in a 21% increase in productivity."

Employers who care for employee health and well-being see numerous measurable benefits, from higher productivity and profitability to lower turnover and fewer safety incidents.

Well-designed and research-informed well-being initiatives and strategies provide organizational resilience and remove risk from organizations. Furthermore, organizations with robust well-being programs experience lower turnover rates, saving costs associated with recruitment and training.

A study by WHO estimates that depression and anxiety issues lead to a loss of productivity, which costs $1 trillion annually.

5 Benefits Of Employee Wellbeing At Work

If you want to talk about the benefits of employee well-being, the list is a vast one. For numerous reasons, it would be best to start promoting a wellness program at work. It is well known that overall well-being can support mental stamina, emotional intelligence, and resilience—three soft skills necessary for productivity, creativity, and efficiency.

A high-performing and thriving workforce is built on employee well-being. Ensured well-being at work has the following benefits:

1. Improve Employee Health and Wellness

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The purpose of workplace well-being is to improve the health and wellness of employees. One such way is implementing employee wellness programs, as it helps educate and support the employees in choosing a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy habits help in lowering absenteeism and workplace stress. An article by Harvard Business Review proves that wellness programs show significant results in reducing elevated health risks.

2. Reduce Health Care Costs

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Increased healthcare costs have left everyone scratching their heads. Employers are now enrolling their employees in wellness programs that promote health and wellness.

It helps in avoiding preventable diseases right before starting. Thus, promoting well-being in the workplace cuts the cost to half.

Suggested Read: How Worksite Wellness Helps In Reducing Employee Healthcare Costs

3. Better Employee Engagements

An engaged workforce indeed yields productive results both financially and personally. However, engaging the workforce has become an issue for employers with the growing size of employees.

Often, employers miss out on some crucial elements of managing their employees as a team, which leads to misunderstandings and communication gaps. Offering quality wellness programs will include all the requirements for fruitful employee engagement.

4. Improve Productivity Level

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The main reasons for lower productivity can be poor health and disinterest in a specific job. Employee well-being programs include various sports activities, personalized sessions, and campaigns that help improve employees' quality of life. It results in increased activity with higher focus levels to complete their task.

"Fact: 35% of global employees are thriving, 56% are struggling, and 9% suffer. This is according to a 2022 Gallup World Poll."

Employers have to incur a significant loss yearly because of unproductive employees. Half the workforce feels drained after the average day's work; hence, considering workplace well-being will help your employees and benefit your organization.

Implementing health and well-being initiatives can help reduce absenteeism and increase their performance.

Download our free guide on Corporate Wellness Programs for implementing a better employee experience.

5. Reduces Stress and Burnout

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A major health problem for employees is workplace stress, which, when untreated, leads to burnout. In other words, if you don't invest in employee wellness programs or initiatives, you will risk employee burnout and compromise productivity.

A burnt-out employee is less productive and increases safety risks at work. In addition, it may adversely affect their mental and physical wellness. Hence, implementing employee well-being initiatives programs can help reduce burnout and effectively manage stress.

Suggested Read: 23 Lesser-Known Stress Relief Activities & Ideas for Office

Difference Between Employee Wellbeing And Employee Wellness

Employee wellbeing and employee wellness both are related concepts that focus on enhancing the overall health and quality of life of employees within the workplace. While they share similarities, they have distinct differences in their scope and emphasis.

Here's a breakdown of the differences between "Employee Wellbeing" and "Employee Wellness":

Employee Wellbeing

  • Employee wellbeing is a broader and more holistic concept that encompasses various aspects of an individual's life, both within and outside the workplace. It includes physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health and happiness.

  • In terms of scope, it is a much more broader concept, covering various facets of an employee's life, including work-life balance, emotional health, financial stability, and social connections.

  • It emphasizes long-term sustainable health and happiness for employees, allowing them to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives both at work and at home.

  • You can offer mental health programs, financial counseling, flexible hours, team-building activities, and more as interventions.

  • The benefits of employee wellbeing are numerous covering from improved morale, reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and better team cohesion, to enhanced job satisfaction.

  • Again, there are many ways to measure the success of the program. Among the options you have are employee surveys, feedback sessions, retention rates, and productivity metrics.

  • When it comes to challenges, it requires a comprehensive understanding of employees' needs, potential resistance to change, and continuous adaptation.

Employee Wellness

  • Employee wellness, on the other hand, is a more specific and focused term, primarily concerned with the physical health and wellness of employees. It often involves wellness programs and initiatives designed to improve and maintain physical health.

  • In terms of scope, it is a much more narrower concept mainly centered around employee health and fitness programs. The programs typically concentrate on physical health aspects such as diet and nutrition, exercise, preventive health screenings, disease management, and promoting healthy lifestyle choices.

  • It emphasizes more on short-term goals like reducing absenteeism, improving productivity, and lowering healthcare costs by encouraging healthier behaviors and lifestyles.

  • You can offer gym memberships, health screenings, nutrition counseling, and office fitness challenges as interventions.

  • The benefits of employee wellness are mostly centered around employee health like improved physical health, reduced medical expenses, and increased energy levels.

  • Again there are many ways for you to measure the success of the programs like health metrics, participation rates in wellness programs, and reduced health insurance claims.

  • The major challenge is that if it isn't integrated with broader wellbeing initiatives, its impact is limited. Although "wellness" is often associated with physical health, "wellbeing" encompasses mental, emotional, and social aspects as well.

The Role of Leadership in Cultivating Employee Wellbeing

A leader's role in championing and promoting employee well-being at work is paramount. They are responsible for creating a workplace culture where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated. Here's how leaders contribute to fostering employee well-being:

1. Lead By Example

Team leaders or managers who prioritize their well-being demonstrate the importance of it to their employees. When leaders model healthy work habits, employees are more likely to follow suit and prioritize their physical and mental health.

2. Creating a Supportive Environment

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Leaders can establish an open and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing well-being challenges. They can encourage open communication and provide resources for employees to seek help when needed.

3. Recognizing and Appreciating Efforts

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Leaders must recognize and appreciate employees' efforts to maintain a healthy work-life balance and engage in wellness activities. Their encouragement reinforces the idea that the organization values and celebrates well-being. The Vantage Circle app, for example, helps you recognize and appreciate employees in this way.

Suggested Read: 16 Virtual Wellness Activities And Ideas For Remote Employees

4. Focus on DEI and offer flexibility

Leaders can acknowledge the diverse needs of employees and offer flexible work arrangements that allow for a better balance between professional and personal commitments. Diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and belonging are intrinsically linked. And organizations that work on improving DEI can see benefits to employee well-being, as well as employee engagement and retention. Flexibility contributes to reduced stress levels and increased well-being.

Suggested Read: 10 Best Diversity and Inclusion Trends in 2023

5. Providing Resources and Opportunities

Leaders ensure employees access well-being resources like wellness programs, mental health support, and skill development opportunities. They collaborate with HR teams to implement initiatives catering to different well-being aspects.

Suggested Read: Ways to implement Mental Health Programs in the Workplace

6. Prioritizing Mental Health

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Leaders should actively promote mental health awareness and create an environment where discussing mental health is destigmatized. They encourage employees to take breaks, manage stress, and seek professional help when needed.

Suggested Read: 17 Ideas For Mental Health Awareness Month Activities In Your Workplace

7. Fostering a Positive Culture

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Leaders cultivate a positive workplace culture where employees feel connected, engaged, and motivated. HR leaders can cultivate gratitude by encouraging camaraderie and meaningful work experiences by recognizing and thanking people for their hard work and accomplishments.

Suggested Read: Introducing The Gratitude Challenge At Work

8. Empowering Well-being Coordinators

Leaders support well-being coordinators and consultants by providing the necessary resources, budget, and time to implement well-being initiatives effectively.

Measuring the Success of Wellbeing Initiatives

To measure the ROI of a wellness initiative, you must collect baseline data on the population or the members of your organization and monitor data measures periodically to assess progress.

However, here are a few more ways to measure the success of your well-being initiatives at work -

  • To ensure that any investment is profitable, you must first collect baseline data for evaluation.

  • You can conduct health interest surveys, health risk surveys, health risk questionnaires, and biometric screenings, as these provide basic best-practice assessments.

  • The Wellness Council of America recommends distributing a health interest survey to gauge the interest of potential participants in a comprehensive wellness initiative.

  • You can use this information later to develop a targeted strategic plan.

  • Introduce health risk assessments and biometric screenings at work. It can provide valuable insights into employee health and risk factors.

  • Regularly review the data to identify trends and target specific health issues.

Suggested Read: How To Plan An Employee Wellness Survey & 15 Vital Questions

Eight Ways You Can Promote Employee Wellbeing At Work

1. Promoting Cycle to Work Regimes

Several benefits accompany cycling-to-work, like less air pollution and higher body endurance; hence, employees who reside near their office can take this advantage.

Employers can also organize various cycling events for their employees. Or may give staff discounts to buy a bicycle and promote the purpose of the cycle to work regimes.

2. Corporate Health Checkup Policies

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Corporate health checkup can leverage the goal of employee wellness programs. Quality health checkups of employees help select ideal candidates for your organization.

Many employers have already started implementing biometric screening and health coaching. It promotes employee well-being and gives priority to female employees in an organization.

3. Checking Workplace Ergonomics

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A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey says that employees from various sectors spend around 75% of their time sitting. It leads to having a sedentary lifestyle with various diseases like obesity and joint pain.

Hence, implementing an ergonomic solution helps employees be more comfortable and productive.

4. Offering Gym Memberships

Exercise incentives can help your employees lead an active life . Offering employees subsidized memberships at a local gym or fitness center can be beneficial by empowering a healthy workforce. Also, employers can encourage them to take staircases instead of the elevator while coming to the office.

5. Introducing Health and Fitness Apps

Thanks to technology, solving health problems has become a matter of a few finger taps. Employers can take the help of various health apps to promote wellness among their employees. To be precise, corporate health apps are a one-stop solution for tech-savvy employees that help them monitor and log their daily activities.

Vantage Fit is a Corporate Health and Fitness app that satisfies all the requirements and gives a user-friendly experience. It has the latest features with real-time tracking and heart monitoring. Employers can create personalized campaigns for their employees to promote healthy competition and elevated employee engagement.

Suggested Read: 10 Best Walking Apps for Employees

6. Encourage Short Breaks

Employees working longer hours are guaranteed to affect their mental and physical health. Jobs with tight schedules require employees to sit for long hours to complete the task. It leads to a sedentary lifestyle, which increases obesity, workplace depression, stress, heart disease, and even work burnout.

Taking short coffee breaks or even a walk within the office after an hour of sitting will bring back the enthusiasm to work again. Vacations can help in rejuvenation and gain the full potential of your employees.

7. Establishing Peer Recognition Culture

In an organization, recognition has always been a preferred employee well-being strategy. Peer recognition helps in building an excellent organizational culture and boosts employee engagement.

Employers can opt for virtual recognition programs to appreciate their high-performing employees. Virtual recognitions and some redeemable rewards encourage your employees' morale to perform better and create healthy competition among their peers.

Enrolling in a quality rewards and recognition platform is essential to run a successful recognition virtually. Vantage Circle is a one-stop employee engagement solution. Its easy accessibility and other unique features like rewards, perks, and fitness give an excellent employee experience. Employees get access to their profiles and can communicate with their peers via mobile applications.

8. Provide Support Mechanisms For Employees Who Are Struggling

Companies that consider their employees' mental health issues can make a big difference when it comes to employee well-being. If your employees struggle at work, they might find it difficult to speak up out of fear of embarrassment or judgment. But you can break this stigma around mental health by being more supportive and providing eternal help.

From covering mental health-related expenses to additional EAP resources, you can help your employees get the needed help. Through EAP, you can provide much cheaper or even free accessible mental health services and counseling intervention quickly.

Overcoming Challenges In Promoting Employee Wellbeing In The Workplace

The process of improving workplace well-being can be complex and demanding. Despite the aid and employee benefits employers offer, workplace burnout and employee stress levels are high. Although there are some barriers to overcome, the benefits far outweigh them.

Post-pandemic has thrown light on the importance of employee mental health and taking a more holistic approach to employee wellness programs. Businesses rely on their employees to thrive and survive.

Ensuring employee well-being is essential for your workplace's success.
Because of this, employers must break down the barriers to workplace well-being and overcome them one by one.

Let's start first by addressing the 5 most common stressors at work -

1. Poor Leadership Skills

One of the most common reasons behind a poor workplace culture or employee wellness is the lack of good organizational management or leaders. You must have come across the phrase that employees quit bosses, not jobs. Often, poor management style and micromanaging can increase employee stress massively, according to a recent survey by CIPD.

Suggested Read: 20 Best Tips For Managers To De-stress Their Remote Team

2. Workload And Stress

A high workload and unrealistic job demands can lead to employee stress and burnout. Often, understaffing leads to excessive workloads and creates a sense of panic among employees when deadlines are not met. Thus, it can be challenging to balance employee well-being and productivity.

3. Lack Of Work-life Balance

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In today's hustle culture, finding a healthy work-life balance can be challenging. Employees can become fatigued and stressed due to long working hours, lack of flexibility, and constant connectivity. Managing professional and personal lives simultaneously can be overwhelming, affecting your employees' personal and professional lives.

4. Limited Resources For Well-being Programs

Allocating resources and tools for comprehensive wellness programs can be a barrier for smaller businesses or organizations. Limited budgets and competing priorities can hinder the effectiveness of the initiatives. Again, there's a misconception about the cost-effectiveness of wellness programs.

Many organizations perceive that investing in employee well-being can be expensive, with expensive insurance plans, initiatives, and interventions. Because of these perceptions, many organizations hold back from investing in wellness programs.

Suggested Read: 101 Latest Employee Wellness Program Ideas To Create A Happy Workplace

5. Resistance To Change

Creating a wellness culture or sudden workplace changes can be overwhelming for most employees. Introducing new initiatives or policies can face resistance from employees accustomed to existing routines. Again, employees can hesitate to adopt new habits or engage in wellness activities. It could affect your plan to promote employee wellness in the workplace.

Suggested Read: 20 Fun Social Wellness Activities for the Workplace

Let's discuss how you can help mitigate or overcome these obstacles to promote workplace well-being. Here are five ways or approaches you can take in the workplace -

1. Manage Stress And Provide Mental Health Training

Almost all organizations have physical first responders, but few have mental health support. In response to the pandemic, more and more organizations are investing in mental health training for HR leaders. By investing in programs or courses, they can identify, understand, and help support a person at work who may be in need.

Again, workplace stress is a universal challenge, and tackling it requires a collaborative effort. Stress can be due to various factors, but 45% of employees reported that mental stress is one of the top emotions they feel while working. Toxic work environments can lead to multiple physical and psychological problems.

Consultants can collaborate with the Vantage Fit app to offer stress-reduction features. From guided meditation sessions to relaxation chants, these initiatives contribute to employees' mental and emotional well-being.

Suggested Read: 13 Mindfulness Meditation Exercises To Improve Your Employees Well-being

2. Social Support

Research shows that social connections can directly link to psycho-social stress, including work-life stress, affecting health. Supportive relationships are crucial for the employees' well-being. Teamwork and other group activities may sometimes prove positive or negative for an employee. Fostering a healthier work environment becomes an essential part of the well-being process.

Often, employees find themselves worrying about their layoffs or pay cuts. Layoffs are assumed to be unavoidable outcomes during an economic crisis. It results in various stress and productivity problems for employees.
Enhancing the feeling of safety and security among employees is a must factor for schemes like employee well-being programs.

3. Work-Life Balance

The balance of life within and outside of the office significantly affects employees' overall well-being. It is a fact that employees are working double than ever before; around 50% consider themselves workaholics. The convenience of resources and tools created expectations quixotically. Such arrangements can create mismanagements, leading to mental conflicts between personal and professional lives.

Often, remote workers become victims of work burnout due to a lack of work-life balance. Employers must check measures to ease their employees' stress.

4. Conduct Well-being Surveys

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Measuring the impact of the well-being initiatives on employees is essential for continual improvement. Without keeping track of the results, you won't be able to know how effective your initiatives are or what obstacles are left to mend. You can conduct well-being surveys to get a better sense of the direction of the initial survey.

These surveys can include questionnaires asking how you would describe the current approach to workplace well-being. Or what would you like to see more of to improve workplace well-being?

You can make your well-being survey a monthly or quarterly occurrence. This way, you can track your progress to workplace well-being.

5 Tips for Building Effective Employee Well-being Initiatives and Programs At Work

The obvious generic wellness programs might be tempting to integrate into your organization, but one-size-fits-all approaches don't work regarding well-being. Here are a few tips on how to consider your company's specific needs -

  • Determine the problem area

  • Analyze the costs associated with poor employee well-being

  • Evaluate the major barriers to well-being

  • Plan a comprehensive well-being program

  • Implement a customized wellness program

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is Employee Health And Well-being?

Employee health and well-being encompasses the overall physical, mental, and emotional health of an employee within and beyond the workplace. It goes beyond just the absence of illness and includes factors like physical fitness, mental resilience, emotional stability, and a positive work environment.

2. What Are The 6 Pillars Of Employee Wellbeing?

The six pillars of employee wellbeing are job security, financial security, health, support, protection, and work-life balance.

3. What Is The Importance Of Employee Wellbeing?

Employee wellbeing benefits employees in many ways, including boosting employee morale, improving job satisfaction, reducing the incidence of illness, stress, or absenteeism, reducing turnover, and more. Both employees and employers benefit from it.

4. Why Employee Wellbeing Would Be A Crucial Factor In Ensuring A Productive Work Environment?

Employee well-being is crucial for organizations because it directly impacts employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and overall company success. Prioritizing well-being creates a positive work environment and enhances the overall quality of employees' lives.

5. What Role Do Leaders Play In Promoting Employee Well-being?

Leaders play a pivotal role in championing and promoting employee well-being within organizations. They set the tone for the workplace culture and create an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated.

6. How Can Wellness Coordinators Enhance Employee Engagement Through Well-being Programs?

Wellness coordinators play a crucial role in enhancing employee engagement through well-being programs. Their expertise and strategic approach can positively impact employee participation, motivation, and overall well-being.

Conclusion

Giving better working conditions with added incentives has become essential to retaining a quality workforce. Employee well-being isn't limited to physical or mental wellness but has become a matter of understanding the understanding the nine dimensions of wellness.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, employees have been following work-from-home routines. It is most likely for them to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. These choices will demote the morale of employees and also harm their health and wellness.

Hence, employers need to focus on employee well-being more than before. Mentoring, introducing health schemes, giving work flexibility, and encouraging personal development are a few solutions.

Now I would like to know from you:

How did you stimulate your employee well-being strategy?

Or did I miss out on some of your favorite points?

Either way, let me know by typing in the comment section below!

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. She is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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