Amid new and complex challenges like 77% of employees fearing exposure to COVID-19 upon returning to the office — in addition to an escalating mental health crisis, increased burnout and a general lack of trust — employee well-being has been thrust into the spotlight like never before. The journey to infusing well-being into the workplace begins with understanding what employee well-being is and what it is not.
Traditional wellness in the workplace has failed. By leveraging biometric scores, weight loss goals and step counts to determine employee well-being, employers can reduce healthcare costs. However, these one-dimensional health determinants don’t tell the story of the whole person.
Stepping up your health is more than a simple physical activity. Despite being a key indicator of well-being, physical fitness doesn’t go the distance for whole-person well-being.
Well-being is about more than physical health.
Physical health influences emotional well-being, quality of life and life satisfaction — and they in turn influence physical health. In other words, physical health is only one element of employee well-being.
Well-being is continuous.
Well-being requires acting with awareness and intention to gradually improve the whole person throughout life.
Well-being isn’t easy to see in people.
When it comes to well-being, there’s often more than meets the eye. For example, individuals with greater sense of purpose may have higher levels of optimism, which partially contributes to increased sense of well-being.
Well-being isn’t the same as work-life balance.
It’s possible to have good work-life balance and be misaligned with well-being, and vice versa. Though the two intersect, they’re not reliant on each other.
Many organizations believe that well-being is a level playing field for all employees, but it’s a game changer when social determinants and identity come into play.
Well-being can impact objective data.
A recent study demonstrated that stress from high job demands can lead to poor physical and mental health, which can indicate mortality 20 years later. Despite being considered a “soft” metric that measures qualitative values, well-being can play a significant role in predicting outcomes for “hard” metrics.
Well-being isn't a level playing field.
Just because you’re on the same team doesn’t mean you have the same experiences at work — or in life. People exposed to potentially uncontrollable factors like genetics, underlying health conditions, personality issues and socioeconomic status may be less likely to report having good physical well-being — and they may also have increased vulnerability to mental health problems.
Sitting on a yoga mat may help you achieve inner peace, but it won't give you the connection you need to thrive at work. There’s merit to achieving goals in solitude, but well-being doesn’t have to be one of them.
Well-being isn’t a solitary pursuit.
There are several factors that influence well-being such as social, environmental and organizational health. These influencers help individuals develop mindsets that generate energy and expand our capacity to improve overall experiences and quality of life.
Work well-being is for everyone.
Work well-being isn’t a perk that’s only available to on-site workers, nor it is only for elites or those who can afford luxuries. Work well-being not only influences emotional, physical and financial well-being, but it also helps employees feel connected to their organization.
Organizations should make a concerted effort to positively impact employee well-being.
Employers have a vested interest in seeing their employees thrive. An organization that authentically invests in, commits to and supports employees at all levels of the organization will help employees increase job satisfaction, life satisfaction, well-being and feelings of inclusion.
This year has been full of surprises — and high among them is the amazing resilience employees have displayed amid multiple less-than-ideal work situations. To ensure your employees can help you lead the way going forward, you’ll need to support their well-being with a program that shows real care.