Employee wellbeing is the overall wellness of your workforce, incorporating mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing – and should be supported by a comprehensive strategy that addresses the diverse needs of your employees.
Wellbeing is a complex issue for HR leaders to navigate, but it is critical to address. Research shows that happier and healthier employees are more likely to be more productive at work, and companies who score highly for employee wellbeing are more profitable than those who do not.
Why is employee wellbeing so important?
At the most extreme end of the wellbeing scale, we are seeing a concerning rise in employees experiencing burnout. The World Health Organisation defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic unmanaged workplace stress, and characterised by feelings of depleted energy, reduced productivity and increased mental distance from one’s job. Research by the Future Forum shows that 42% of employees are currently reporting as burnt out – up from 38% in May 2021.
This alarming increase in burnout highlights the urgent need for organizations to prioritize employee wellbeing. But wellbeing isn’t a sticking plaster for burnout; it should be a preventative approach, and implemented in a considered and targeted way.
An investment in wellbeing isn’t entirely altruistic. Whilst we wholeheartedly believe that companies have a duty of care to look after the wellbeing of their employees, there are also financial and business benefits for companies who prioritise employee wellbeing:
When employees are in good physical and mental health and are not overly distracted by their financial wellbeing, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and focused on their work. They can perform tasks more efficiently, make better decisions, and maintain a higher level of productivity. Conversely, employees who are struggling with their wellbeing may experience decreased concentration, lower energy levels, and reduced job performance.
Prioritising employee wellbeing can lead to a decrease in absenteeism and presenteeism. When employees feel supported and that their wellbeing is considered, they are less likely to need to take sick leave or time off due to stress-related issues. Absence related to ill-health can have a significant impact on productivity; in 2021-22 the average amount of leave taken by individuals suffering from stress, anxiety and depression was 18.6 days. By promoting a healthy work environment, companies can create a culture that encourages employees to prioritise their wellbeing and reduces the need for extended absences.
Employee turnover can be costly for businesses in terms of recruitment, training, lost productivity and corporate amnesia or lost business knowledge. Investing in employee wellbeing can contribute to higher retention rates. When employees feel valued, supported, and their wellbeing needs are met, they are more likely to stay with the company for the long term. A positive work environment that promotes wellbeing can foster loyalty and commitment among employees – as well as support wider initiatives including the gender pay and ethnicity pay gaps and increasing diverse representation at senior levels.
Attraction of Top Talent
In today’s competitive job market, candidates are increasingly seeking employers who prioritise employee wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion. Companies that prioritise wellbeing and have initiatives in place to support their employees’ physical, mental, social, and financial health and provide development opportunities have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. Candidates are more likely to be drawn to organisations that demonstrate a genuine concern for their employees’ wellbeing and prioritise support for their diversity, equity and inclusion programmes.
Improved Company Culture
Prioritising employee wellbeing helps create a positive company culture. When employees feel their wellbeing is valued, they are more likely to have a sense of belonging, satisfaction, and engagement. A positive and inclusive work culture fosters collaboration, innovation, and teamwork, leading to improved overall company performance.
By taking a holistic approach to employee wellbeing, companies can encourage healthier lifestyles among their employees. Initiatives such as wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, and mental health support can help employees manage stress, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and prevent the onset of chronic health conditions. However holistic wellbeing programmes also need to support the diversity of employees and their personal situations and provide support for areas such as family forming, neurodiversity or caring responsibilities which can impact an individual’s wellbeing. A healthier workforce leads to reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity whilst delivering a positive return on investment. It’s a win-win.
We believe that organisations have a moral obligation to prioritise employee wellbeing. Employees dedicate a significant portion of their lives to their work, and employers should recognise and respect their employees’ overall wellbeing. By proactively addressing employee wellbeing, companies demonstrate a commitment to their employees’ welfare and establish themselves as responsible, ethical and inclusive employers who understand that they have a duty of care towards their employees.
Employee wellbeing isn’t just the right thing to do; it influences key factors that determine profitability and productivity. A good, tailored wellbeing strategy reduces absenteeism and presenteeism, drives engagement, improves retention rates, attracts top talent, reduces risk, and cultivates a positive company culture.
By prioritizing employee wellbeing, companies can create a supportive and inclusive work environment that cultivates engaged, healthy, and motivated employees. And if you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and we’d love to help.