Prioritizing Employee Wellness in the Workplace

Woman and an exercise mat in an office background

It’s no secret that workplaces are facing a crisis of burnout among employees. Even those who may be resilient are increasingly “languishing” or simply not feeling like their best work selves, given increased demands and stress exacerbated by the pandemic.

In order to retain employees and help maintain their health, employers must renew their focus on wellness with programs, training, and resources. Wellness programs can spark behavior change and improve overall health. Here are three ways that organizations can implement much-needed wellness to come to the aid of their workforce. 

Provide a suite of services 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness. While yoga or mindfulness training may work as stress relief for some, others may prefer a walking challenge or group exercise classes. It’s important to meet employees where they are and equip them with the resources that fit their needs and lifestyle. The World Economic Forum suggests a bevy of “frictionless access to professional healthcare services” that may include paid time off for healthy self-care habits, which will help employees return to the workplace recharged and productive. 

Improve employee communication and connectivity

A lack of clear communication is in itself a source of stress, which can be worsened by changing or uncertain work environments brought on by economic uncertainty. A survey by McKinsey & Company found that 47% of the respondents felt anxious when there was no clear communication from their employer about the future. When transparent and clear communication is ingrained in company values, not only does it build trust and employee engagement among the current workforce, but it also helps an organization compete for talent amidst record talent shortages and skills gaps.  

Employee connectivity strengthens support systems and builds social connections, which are critical to health and wellness. Encourage human interaction through face-to-face meetings, social events and meet-ups. With hybrid and remote workforces, find ways to stay connected virtually through regular one-on-one meetings and virtual social events. Promoting volunteer activities and community involvement is another proactive way to enhance connectivity.

Embrace flexibility  

The shutdowns of the pandemic brought to light what has always been under the surface for many workers: The 9-5 schedule doesn’t work for everyone. Those with family care needs or simply the demands of a regular routine require flexibility. Rather than fighting against this reality and causing stress, employers with the means to be flexible can allow workers to rearrange their workday or week. Harvard Business Review found that some organizations are trading shorter work weeks as a perk instead for recruitment rather than competing on salary alone, which has been harder to do with inflation. “Flexibility around how, where, and when people work is no longer a differentiator,” write Gartner researchers Brian Kropp and Emily Rose McRae. “It’s now table stakes.”

Ultimately, the concerns among workers fueling the Great Resignation may get worse before it gets better, as organizations undergo real fundamental change rather than just offering temporary band-aids. It will take time and investment from employers, but the payoff in the long term will be healthier, more resilient and more productive workplaces. 

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