How to Improve Employee Well-Being in the Workplace
By: Dr. Laura Hamill
Employee well-being is crucial and wanting to improve employee well-being should be at the top of every company’s list. Well-being encompasses everything from how a person feels to their productivity and overall engagement at work. We define well-being as feeling good and living with purpose. But we know it’s a subjective concept — our perceptions of other people’s life circumstances don’t determine how they feel. You can only say if your well-being is high, low or suffering.
According to recent research by Gallup, “fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing — the lowest percentage in nearly a decade.” While employees’ perceptions of their organization caring about their well-being plummets, a ripple effect of burnout, disengagement and even searching for a new job can rise.
In this guide, we’ll cover the importance of employee well-being, understanding how well-being works and actions you can take today to improve employee well-being in your workplace.
The best companies authentically invest in the well-being of their people. When employees feel their organization cares, they have higher well-being and are more engaged, which leads to better business results.
88% of employees with high well-being said they feel engaged at work. Only 50% of those with low well-being do.
Limeade Well-Being gives every employee the opportunity to offer — and find — inspiration and accountability, while giving managers and leaders the actionable tools to make company support real.
What is well-being and why does it matter?
Feeling good and living with purpose is rooted in positive psychology — a movement that focuses on what’s right with people rather than what’s wrong with them.
Researchers map well-being to two philosophical approaches — hedonia (“feeling good”) and eudaimonia (“living with purpose”). Hedonia is feeling healthy and happy, and eudaimonia is all about intentionally (and actively) thriving.
People are complex systems — and what happens in one area of someone’s life impacts all other areas. That’s why employers need to pay attention. The best companies authentically invest in the well-being of their people and improving well-being in the workplace. When employees feel their organization cares, they have higher well-being and are more engaged, which leads to better business results.
The benefits of well-being at work
Let’s say an employee frequently disagrees with her manager. Her frustration has gotten bad enough that she wants to look for another job, but she worries about the financial instability a career change could create for her family. Over time, she starts dreading going to work. She gets intense headaches and stops sleeping well. She could treat her headaches, but she’ll likely only find temporary relief until she addresses the root causes. As a result, she struggles to find the motivation to address those root causes due to her lack of sleep.
This snowball effect brings down every positive part of her home and work life. Melting down that snowball of stress is the goal of improving well-being in the workplace.
Understanding how well-being works in order to improve employee well-being
If you want to improve employee well-being, you first must understand all the underlying well-being factors to learn how they connect and truly improve. This can be quite personal — and varies from person to person.
The challenge is huge, but the evidence continues to demonstrate the importance of whole-person well-being. In fact, our research shows 88% of employees with high well-being said they feel engaged at work. Only 50% of those with low well-being do.
Strengthening well-being with organizational support
Most employees say their immediate manager matters more than C-suite leadership when it comes to well-being support. By strengthening the organizational support employees feel from their leaders and managers, you can ultimately foster a healthy and engaged workforce. But it has to be authentic.
For example, a 14,000+ employee manufacturing Limeade customer needed to provide organizational support for well-being, showing they genuinely care for employees at every plant. Limeade Well-Being helped them deliver relevant, whole-person opportunities to its diverse population and support well-being in every corner of the organization.
They used Limeade Insights Dashboards to develop a manager scorecard with aggregated well-being program data that indicates their team’s areas of strength, improvement and engagement. This allowed managers to understand their team’s areas for improvement and act in real time, which led to:
Educate managers on how they can support employee well-being. Managers don’t always understand how to talk with their employees about well-being. Educate all managers (even those with only one direct report) on how they can support improvement. You can do this by providing clear instructions for managers on how to talk with employees about well-being and how to overcome hurdles, or sending frequent messages of support and encouragement (like thank you cards or recognition during team meetings).
Leverage and connect teams, peers and networks. An employee’s teammates are valuable resources (and cheerleaders) for well-being support. Encourage employees to connect socially, recognize achievements and cheer each other on. Spark friendly competition and build community through team-based challenges, or share supportive comments and success stories across the organization.
Lean on leadership as well-being role models. Leaders highlight and define the value of well-being with their personal examples and reinforcement. Share a video of your executive sponsor discussing his/her sincere commitment to employee well-being. Encourage leaders to model positive behavior through everyday actions — like taking lunch breaks and vacations, setting tech boundaries and actively promoting well-being challenges. Reinforce the importance of well-being in all written and verbal communications.
Infuse well-being into your workplace with Limeade Well-Being
Science shows that employee well-being results happen when peers, managers and leaders show up for each other in meaningful ways. Our employee well-being platform gives every employee the opportunity to offer — and find — inspiration and accountability, while giving managers and leaders the actionable tools to make company support real.
Employee well-being programs can no longer be adjacent and siloed programs, nor can they be focused solely on health and wellness. Instead, employee well-being should be infused into the whole company, becoming a part of how employees experience work every day. And the numbers prove it: Employees who report a high sense of well-being are 38% more likely to feel engaged at work. For Ryan LLC, that meant a 4x increase in global monthly active users when they switched to Limeade.