Harvard found that for every dollar spent on employee wellness, medical costs fall $3.27 and absenteeism drops $2.73, a 6-to-1 return on investment. Companies that commit to employee wellness have a decided advantage over their competitors. Just as any team will find their performance boosted when the members enjoy strong personal relationships with one another, happier and healthier employees are more productive and engaged.
The pandemic has been hard. According to a McKinsey report, 62% of employees globally consider mental-health issues to be a major challenge during the COVID-19 crisis. In light of this, 96% of companies globally provided additional mental-health resources to employees, but only one in six employees reported feeling supported. It’s not just about offering a few initiatives without truly making employee wellness a priority – ensuring that they are comfortable, healthy, and happy. SHRM defines workplace wellness as ‘any program intended to improve and promote health and fitness’. Programs and initiatives around employee wellness have been in place for a while but its nature has evolved over time, and especially during and post pandemic. Primarily because now the boundaries between work and home are becoming increasingly difficult to define; lines are blurred and it could quickly lead to employees feeling isolated, disconnected, and burnt out.
The most basic form of wellness is working in an organization where the leadership genuinely cares about employees. When leaders communicate their own intentions of prioritizing wellbeing openly, and follow it up with actionable behaviors, they can set the tone for a culture that empowers employees to focus and invest in themselves so that they can be more productive.
The truth is that no good work comes about by a single employee, making it imperative for them to feel connected, engaged, and valued to be productive. However, a holistic set of wellbeing programs, when done correctly, provide employees with the right incentives, support, tools, privacy, and strategies to embrace and practise healthy behaviors and to foster high-trust environments.
Offering employees wellness programs has a huge number of benefits, we’ve narrowed down on the top five:
- Reduction in absenteeism: Employees who take care of their health miss fewer days of work. American workers miss more than 100 million workdays each year just from lower back pain, according to the Wellness Council of America. One of the key benefits of raising awareness on and advocating for healthy behaviors is improved employee attendance. Another aspect to consider is this – employees who say they often or always experience burnout at work are 63% more likely to take sick days. Employee wellbeing is directly related with absenteeism and its associated cost.
- Attracting great talent: 78% of employers offer wellness programs to attract and retain talent. Given that we are living (read: working) through the Great Attrition, top of mind for most companies is attracting the best talent in the market. It is a very competitive space with potential candidates having a plethora of options to choose from. Companies that provide employee wellbeing incentives become a determining factor in attracting great talent who will work toward the business success of the company.
- Improving decision making and productivity: More than 90% of business leaders say that promoting wellness can affect employee productivity and performance, according to survey results from the nonprofit Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). One of the leading causes of poor productivity is poor health; employees who are healthy feel more energized and engaged at the workplace, whereas employees who are unhealthy feel more tired and less motivated to work. Employees who are not in a good mind-space may not be able to handle the work pressures and may experience more frequent bouts of exhaustion. When wellbeing is optimized, an employee is more eager and focused at work, naturally leading to an increase in productivity.
- Improving employee morale: Organizations need to constantly measure and address employee morale in the workplace. Getting insight on how employees are feeling through regular one-on-one check-ins and employee satisfaction surveys become important. What companies are now understanding is that creating a positive work culture goes beyond merchandise and a few fun events. Building a bond and resonating with employees through learning and development opportunities, social events, rewards and recognitions, can go a long way in boosting collective morale.
- Reduction in turnover: The more positive and connected experiences an employee has in the workplace, the more invested in your company they are. According to this study, team members who feel involved are 87% less likely to leave an organization. Developing wellness programs and initiatives take away the burden of finding, recruiting, and retaining new talent to replace those who are unable to function efficiently.
We are at an interesting phase in this workplace disruption, and companies need to get smart and serious about how they approach employee wellbeing. Making use of data and technology to develop innovative and sustainable programs have multiple benefits, some of which have been addressed previously in this article.
While companies have always taken physical health seriously, since the pandemic, they are also understanding the need to decrease mental health stigma and increase/provide access to relevant services. The bottom line is that caring about employees and wanting them to be happier and healthier doesn’t make sense just for that employee, but also for the company’s overall performance.
For more insights on building and managing a global workforce, schedule a consultation with experts from Talent500 today.