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.
According to a recent Gallup study, only 24% of US employees feel that their employer cares about their well-being. This is 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.
There are ways to improve employee well-being in the workplace to help employees feel more positive, productive and fulfilled at home and at work. However, it’s dependent on forward-thinking companies realizing they can contribute toward improved employee well-being.
This guide covers the importance of employee well-being and provides actionable tips to improve it in the 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?
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.
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. She is so frustrated that she wants to change jobs, but she is worried about the financial implications it could have 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 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 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 all managers, even those with one direct report, on how to improve well-being in the workplace. Managers don’t always understand how to talk with their employees about well-being, so make sure to:
Provide clear instructions for managers on how to talk with employees about well-being and how to overcome hurdles.
Send 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. Here are some suggestions for more leadership involvement:
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 helps employees find inspiration and accountability, and gives managers the tools to make company support more effective.
Employee well-being programs can no longer be disconnected or isolated from each other, nor can they only focus 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.