The pandemic and its resulting chaos changed the definition of “normal” in the workplace. Now, the “return to work” shift has many HR managers and employers looking to redesign work models to better care for the mental and physical health of their employees. What do these models look like, and how can you capitalize on these trends to improve employee retention?
Why are employers concerned with workforce wellbeing?
Even prior to Covid-19, companies knew that employee wellbeing affected the health of their business; enterprise organizations spent an average of $3.6 million annually on wellness programs in 2019. We know that healthy employees are more productive and more likely to stay with their current employer. According to Harvard Business Review, “A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health shows that organizations with highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition than do those whose programs have low effectiveness (9% vs. 15%).” In addition, a 2020 study conducted by Deloitte found that 80% of businesses surveyed identified wellbeing as “important or very important” to the success of their organizations.
Faced with the unprecedented changes required in the face of a global pandemic, companies were forced to prioritize worker wellbeing as a means of survival. Organizations were called upon to reexamine their resources and plans to offer safer and healthier workplace environments. Many moved to support remote work, implement healthcare programs to offer testing and contact tracing, and establish new protocols for medical and family leave. Leaders found themselves adapting their responses to the needs of their staff and were able to use this focus to embed wellbeing practices into the workplace and offer work-adjacent programs as well.
Employee wellness matters to your team
The COVID-19 pandemic created a large workforce of remote employees, and those in positions without a remote option found themselves struggling to keep up with workloads suddenly increased by furloughs, layoffs, and downsizing.
As employees saw their in-person work relationships dwindle or disappear, many found their ability to set firm working boundaries diminishing as well.
Limited social interaction, double shifts, heavier workloads, and concerns about health meant even fewer ways to disengage from the stress of the workday. Not surprisingly, struggling employees began to face another type of epidemic: burnout.
Research from Oracle and Workplace Intelligence found that 2020 was considered the most stressful year people had ever experienced as employees, with 85% reporting that this new level of stress had a negative effect on their home lives. Countering burnout provides an opportunity to capitalize on the fact that worker wellbeing is linked to employer profitability. Put simply, happy, healthy employees produce more than those who are sick or burnt out. Studies show that corporate wellness programs can increase employee productivity by 10 hours annually per worker.
How can employers promote workforce wellbeing?
An MIT Sloan study recommends several methods employers can use to support the mental and physical health of their employees. Their recommendations include:
Preempting health crises by creating a work/life balance and a company “culture of care.” Leaders should practice and model good self-care, pay attention to employee workloads, and introduce “bookend” activities to the workday to create opportunities for workers to connect with one other, reflect on their day, and set near-term goals for their teams.
Detecting issues before they escalate with survey tools and manager awareness. Anonymous surveys allow employers to obtain honest feedback, and open communication allows leaders to demonstrate active listening while offering employees a chance to raise concerns
Remedying issues with wellness programs for alleviating stress and building health. On-site wellness programs have temporarily dwindled, but other options are available. Consider providing employees with virtual tools for meditation, therapy, and counseling.
Tailoring solutions for the specific needs of your company. Some organizations provide on-site therapeutic counseling, wellness checks, and nutrition classes. Others offer mentoring programs and peer support groups for sharing work-related concerns.
Does your company have an employee health and wellness program you can leverage to attract new talent? TERRA Staffing Group is here to support your candidate recruiting efforts and address your human resource concerns.