Employee well-being refers to the overall state of employees’ physical, mental, social and financial health, which can often be influenced by various workplace dynamics (e.g., workload, connections with co-workers and available resources).
While employee well-being plays a key role in employee retention, it also has a significant impact on business performance. As a result, it’s vital for organizations to take employee well-being seriously and do what they can to foster a culture that promotes well-being.
The following article provides more information on employee well-being and outlines several workplace well-being initiatives for employers to consider.
The Important Role of Mental Health in Employee Well-being
Over the years, many organizations have attempted to promote employee well-being by offering workplace solutions aimed solely at maintaining physical health. These solutions may include serving nutritious meal options on-site, offering smoking cessation programs or providing discounted memberships to local gyms.
While such solutions can certainly help employees make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce their risk of chronic illnesses, promoting employee well-being requires organizations to develop initiatives that address all aspects of workers’ overall health and happiness. Specifically, employees’ mental health must be considered.
Mental health consists of individuals’ emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how individuals communicate, form relationships, contribute to their communities and cope with adversity. In times of distress, individuals may suffer from poor mental health. Emotions associated with poor mental health include grief, stress, sadness or anxiousness.
It’s important to note that mental health differs from mental illness. In particular, emotions stemming from poor mental health are not diagnosable conditions but rather temporary feelings. On the other hand, mental illnesses pertain to a wide range of clinical mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety and depression). These disorders are chronic and affect how individuals think, behave and function in their daily lives. Yet, individuals who experience prolonged periods of poor mental health may eventually develop mental illnesses.
In any case, mental health is a key factor in determining employees’ well-being—one that organizations can’t afford to ignore. In fact, recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of U.S. adults experience at least one adverse symptom of stress (e.g., feeling overwhelmed or anxious) each year. Furthermore, mental health can make a difference in employees’ physical health. According to the CDC, poor mental health can increase individuals’ likelihood of developing a range of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Considering these findings, it’s clear that employers must account for employees’ mental health when addressing their overall well-being.
How Employee Well-being Impacts the Workplace
Employees’ mental health and well-being can impact employers in various ways. Here are some key business objectives that may be influenced by overall workplace well-being:
Evidently, ignoring employees’ mental health and well-being can result in significant consequences for organizations. That’s why it’s crucial for employers to adopt effective workplace well-being initiatives.
Steps Employers Can Take
In order to promote employees’ mental health and well-being, organizations should consider implementing the following measures:
Foster a supportive workplace culture. First and foremost, it’s critical for employers to promote a company culture that prioritizes employees’ mental health and well-being. In doing so, employers will be able to show their employees that they value them beyond their work contributions and are invested in their overall health and happiness. Having a supportive workplace culture in place will also help employers lead by example within their workforce, highlighting the importance of maintaining work-life balance and establishing a more open dialogue surrounding mental health topics.
Establish a long-term strategy. In addition to fostering a supportive workplace culture, employers need to have long-term strategies for promoting employees’ mental health and well-being. Such strategies should be well-documented and clearly outline the steps organizations are taking to keep their workers healthy and happy. They should also list the specific objectives employers are trying to accomplish through their well-being initiatives. By having long-term strategies in place, organizations will be able to better identify the effectiveness of their well-being initiatives, calculate the return on investment for these initiatives and determine when initiatives need to be updated or changed. Key well-being initiatives for employers to consider within their long-term strategies include:
Overall, it’s evident that employee well-being is a matter that organizations of all sizes and sectors should take seriously. By understanding how employee well-being impacts key business objectives and making a conscious effort to keep workers happy and healthy, employers can reduce their workplace well-being exposures and maintain successful operations.
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