More than half the world’s population is currently back to work. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 percent of working-age adults live with a mental disorder in 2019. Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety at a cost of USD1 trillion in lost productivity.
Employee well-being has become a critical issue for organisations in recent years. In coming to the forefront in recent years, remote and hybrid work have blurred the line between work and life. This has, in turn, spurred business and HR leaders to prioritise employee well-being in a holistic manner, factoring in physical as well as mental health.
The Current State of Employee Well-being
Lululemon Athletica Inc’s third annual Global Wellbeing Report found that while 67 percent of people place well-being as a top priority, only 44 percent feel achieving it as a top priority is impossible to achieve, and only 12 percent say their well-being is where it should be. Part of the barriers are certain prevailing societal and gender norms, as well as mental health still being viewed as a taboo topic.
Another study, HP Inc’s Workplace Relationship Index found that most people surveyed don’t have a healthy relationship with their workplace, which, in turn, affects their mental well-being, self-esteem, and their physical health. While leaders acknowledge emotional intelligence is key, employees say they don’t see it enough.
So, while it is evident that there is a growing awareness of the importance of employee well-being, there is still much work to be done. Supporting employee well-being is an ongoing process, and organisations have to work to build and maintain a culture that makes employees feel safe, fostering a safe and productive workplace that feels like a second home.
What Are the Challenges in Prioritising Employee Well-Being?
- One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Many well-being programmes adopt a one-size-fits-all approach that does not cater to the diverse needs of employees. Employees have unique physical, mental, and emotional requirements, and their well-being initiatives should reflect this diversity.
- Lack of Mental Health Support: While physical health is essential, mental health is equally critical. Yet, mental health support remains underemphasised in many organisations, perpetuating the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
- Work-Life Balance: The line between work and personal life has blurred for many employees, leading to increased stress and burnout. Achieving a healthy work-life balance remains a challenge in several industries.
- Inconsistent Implementation: Even when well-being programmes are in place, their implementation can be inconsistent. Some employees may have access to resources while others do not, creating disparities in support.
A Holistic Approach to Employee Well-being
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some measures that companies can take to nurture a work environment that supports their employees’ overall well-being. These include:
- Mental Health Support: Place a strong emphasis on mental health by providing access to counselling services, mental health days, and training for managers to recognise and support employees facing mental health challenges.
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Encourage flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options and flexible hours, to promote a healthy work-life balance.
- Workplace Wellness Activities: Incorporate wellness activities into the workplace, such as yoga or meditation classes, healthy eating options, and ergonomic workspaces.
- Financial education: Providing financial education and resources can help employees manage their finances and reduce financial stress.
The question of whether organisations are doing enough to prioritise and nurture the well-being of their employees is a critical issue. While progress has been made in recognising the importance of looking at employee well-being in a holistic manner, there is ample room for improvement.
By adopting a holistic approach that encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health, organisations can create a workplace where employees thrive, and businesses benefit from increased productivity, retention, and reputation.
Investing in employee well-being is not a one-time initiative but an ongoing commitment. It is an investment that pays dividends in the form of a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.
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