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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Health of Your Organization Starts with Employee Well-being

Co-authored by Tim Stahl and Trenholm Ninestein
Woman using her touchscreen laptop at a desk
The Health of Your Organization Starts with Employee Well-beingVP, Employee Experience — Tim Stahl
Woman using her touchscreen laptop at a desk

When creating an employee experience strategy, many organizations focus on culture, technology, benefits, and perks. However, a key attribute of employee experience is focusing on employees' mental, emotional, and social well-being. Prioritizing well-being is a win-win: employees have the support they need and are satisfied at work, while employers see increased productivity, efficiency, and longevity. In today’s complex talent landscape, companies must prioritize employee well-being to create an experience that attracts the best talent and gets the most out of their people.

Understanding employee well-being

When people think of well-being, they often think about mental health. While mental health is a critical part of well-being, it isn’t the only focus. It touches nearly every aspect of an employee's experience, including workplace relationships, resources, benefits, and culture. Employee well-being means offering mental health resources, encouraging a safe and collaborative culture, offering strong health benefits, mentoring, and more.

Well-being matters now more than ever before. Today’s employees have endured a pandemic, economic uncertainty, global divisions, and personal challenges, all of which take a toll on overall health. The American Institute of Stress reports that 80% of Americans feel stressed at work, and research from the U.S. Surgeon General shows that 84% of employees say their workplace conditions have contributed to at least one mental health challenge.

As remote and hybrid schedules become more common and the line between work and life continues to blur, employers need to understand that well-being in one area of an employee's life impacts other areas of their life, including work. Prioritizing employee well-being means creating an environment where employees can thrive — in all aspects of their lives.

Well-being should be central to the employee experience strategy

People are the lifeblood of every organization. Just like employee well-being improves each individual's health, it also increases the company's overall health. Employees spend a significant portion of their lives at work, and their employer’s approach to well-being impacts more than just what happens while they are on the clock.

Well-being drives employee satisfaction and engagement

Global employee engagement numbers have seen a significant decrease in the last few years. A survey from Gallup found that only 32% of U.S. workers were engaged at work in 2022 — a drop from 36% in 2020. There are numerous reasons for the decline, but they all tie back to one principle: a growing disconnect between employees and employers.

A lack of focus on well-being has led to a decrease in engagement. In 2020, around 50% of employees said their company cared about their overall well-being. Today, that number has been cut in half.

The connection between well-being, employee satisfaction, and engagement ties back to the basic human need to be seen and appreciated. When employees feel supported in all areas of their lives and are treated like humans, they naturally feel more connected to a company. They realize their employer's investment in their overall happiness and are motivated to be more engaged at work.

Well-being boosts productivity

Emphasizing employee well-being has a direct impact on productivity and efficiency, with highly engaged employees twice as likely to enjoy work more than employees with lower well-being. When employees have the tools they need to thrive, they are in the mental state to do better work. They aren’t distracted by other ailments or anxieties and often have less brain fog, so they can focus on higher-level tasks and move through projects quickly.

There’s also the mental and emotional element. Supporting well-being helps employees feel connected to the organization and their colleagues, which can foster collaboration and ownership, encouraging employees to put in more focused and productive work.

Well-being creates a competitive advantage

A commitment to employee well-being creates a strong differentiator for prospective employees, especially for younger employees who highly value mental health days and other well-being resources. And when employees feel supported at work, they are more likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work. Of employees with higher well-being, 84% say they are likely to refer their company to others, compared to 48% of employees with lower well-being.

A positive employee experience also creates a competitive advantage with customers, who want to do business with companies that support their employees. The reverse is also true — customers tend to look elsewhere when employees aren’t appreciated. Customer and employee experience are connected and symbiotic, so companies can’t have one without the other. Zappos is an excellent example of this. The company says employee health and well-being is its number one commitment, and it stands by that with solid benefits, personal development support, and workplace flexibility. Because employees are empowered with the mental and emotional tools they need to thrive, they can provide great service, leading to Zappos being a global leader in customer service.

Well-being boosts revenue and growth opportunities

Higher employee productivity leads to more growth opportunities and often higher revenue by maximizing resources. Our own research shows that companies with an engaged workforce see 21% higher profitability. Productive employees get more work done and are more innovative, which opens doors for further growth.

Companies worldwide lose $322 billion annually due to lost productivity and employee burnout, which can significantly impact the bottom line. Well-being initiatives can lead to fewer sick days, less burnout, and lower turnover (companies doing the best saw 11% lower turnover than others on average), resulting in significant overall cost savings.

Put people at the center of employee experience

Ultimately, employee experience is about people. Aside from the statistics, revenue opportunities, and resources poured into an experience strategy, the key focus should always be on the people themselves. An effective well-being and experience strategy requires understanding employees’ priorities, values, preferences, and interests. Just like each customer is different, so too is each employee. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to well-being that will work for every organization.

Leaders need to involve employees and partner with them to boost their well-being. Put people at the center with anonymous surveys, technology usage reports, focus groups, and other metrics to learn if employees are stressed or burnt out and to find what they want from their work experience. Managers also play a crucial role in building individual relationships to ask and understand how their employees are really doing and then moving beyond just listening to turn those insights into improvements.

Employees who feel supported in all aspects of their work lives can bring their whole selves to their careers and thrive. Well-being is crucial to building a successful employee experience strategy that drives long-term results.

Ready to create a well-being strategy? Rightpoint can help integrate well-being into employee experience with our Total Experience Framework. Learn more and contact us today.