One topic that has garnered a lot of awareness in Human Resources is employee well-being. For several years, Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends survey has acknowledged a growing concern surrounding employee well-being and how well-being affects employers. However, 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the spotlight on employee well-being, and specifically, organizations’ responses to the growing need for well-being benefits. In a recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, 80% of organizations have acknowledged that employee well-being is important or very important for their success over the next 12-18 months, but only 12% of these organizations are currently ready to address this challenge. That alarming response raises a question: Are HR professionals doing enough to support employee well-being? What are some actions HR professionals are taking to alleviate employee well-being pressures incurred from the current pandemic? In this Astronology® we take a look at the delicate balance of employee well-being.
Why is Employee Well-being Important in HR?
Everyone wants to retain engaged, high performing employees. This requires making an investment into the elements that help produce these types of workers. One such element is understanding the balance of employee well-being. A 2018 Forbes online article explains, “Employees feel engaged when work feels more like a community and less like a factory. Employee wellness programs help foster a sense of community in the workplace.” The article further explains that workplace wellness helps boost employee engagement by helping employees to develop:
- Stronger Work Relationships
- Healthier Behaviors
- Lessen Stress
- Improved Mental Well-Being
- Higher Morale
A Limeade and Quantum Workplace study further supports this by revealing that employees with higher well-being are more likely to feel engaged at work, enjoy their work, and recommend their organization. Also, the 2020 Deloitte survey reported that 94% of respondents believe that employee well-being to some extent drives organizational performance. Now more than ever, employee well-being has become important for organizational success.
What are the Current Influences on Employee Well-being? How are Employers Responding?
The presence of COVID-19 has heightened the importance of employee well-being for employers. The virus has impacted not only the physical health of employees, but also influenced a rise in mental health concerns due to social isolation. Another unfortunate result from COVID-19 is the negative impact on the world economy, resulting in growing concerns over finances for all employees. HR leaders became aware of these concerns and reacted responsibly. Some quick, practical steps organizations made in order to keep employees healthy and to provide useful tools to help alleviate pandemic pressure included the following:
- Implementing a mass change to remote work
- Implementing testing and contact tracing strategies for onsite workers
- Ensuring physical comfort and safety in the workplace by providing:
- Strict social distancing rules
- Mask wearing
- Capacity limits
- Establishing new programs for:
- Emergency medical leave
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Employee assistance programs for financial and legal aid
- Providing mental break and team building activities:
- Virtual coffee/happy hours
- Hosting or providing online classes such as exercise, meditation, and cooking
Will these benefits remain after the pandemic has passed? Julie Stitch, Vice President of Content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP) expresses, “Which of these workplace changes will become permanent in a post-COVID world has yet to be determined. It’s likely that at least some of these changes are here to stay.”
What adjustments or support has your organization provided to help boost employee well-being? Do you think any of these adjustments will become permanent? Share your thoughts in our comment box below.