A new survey by Alight Solutions developed with Business Group on Health found that only 40% of employees feel positively about their overall wellbeing as the enduring pandemic continues to test their resiliency.
According to the 2021 Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study, employee perceptions declined by at least five percentage points across all five dimensions of wellbeing – physical, mental/emotional, financial, social and career – since early 2020. But employers have an opportunity to effect change, because when employees indicate they’re having a great experience at work, the portion who feel positively about their overall wellbeing surges to 70%. Moreover, 83% of employees report that employer-provided wellbeing programs have enhanced their work experience.
“Wellbeing and work experiences are inexorably linked, and there’s never been a better time for employers to provide personalized guidance and resources to their employees in the ways they need it and can take action,” said Laine Thomas Conway, vice president of communication strategy and total rewards product manager at Alight. “The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities around employee wellbeing and where they can find support. Now, it’s up to employers to assess the needs of their workforce and experiment with fresh ways to help them achieve their wellbeing priorities.”
The survey reinforces that employers can play a significant role in supporting employees in reaching their wellbeing goals, including:
- Helping employees take charge of their finances. 80% of employees took some sort of financial action because of the pandemic, including becoming more attuned to living within their means, reducing debt, and establishing an emergency fund. As a result, nearly half (49%) of employees feel more in control of their financial future, up from 41% in 2020. Employers can add value by providing tools and resources to employees at the point of need, whether it’s building an investment portfolio, paying down debt, or saving for specific life stages.
- Invoking action to influence healthy lifestyles. 68% of employees report doing everything they can to promote and maintain their personal health and wellness, yet 38% say that living a “truly healthy life” requires more time, attention and/or money than they’re willing to spend. While employees can find help through many well-regarded wellbeing programs, including concierge services, personalized health management, and mental and emotional health apps, the survey suggests that when employees actually use those resources versus just being aware that they exist, their perceived value increases an average of 14%. This signals that employers should move beyond general promotion and take bolder steps to communicate the value of the most impactful wellbeing programs.
- Creating a flexible and empathetic workplace. Two-fifths (41%) of employees report symptoms of burnout, while another third (34%) say they lack energy during the workday. Four in 10 employees (40%) feel that they can’t manage their work and personal commitments and nearly half (46%) fear repercussions for “truly disconnecting” if they take time away from work. Parents and caregivers report higher levels of stress and burnout, with some admitting that they dread the start of the workday. Employers have a variety of options for helping employees manage burnout – from EAPs and emergency time off to tutoring assistance and caregiving services. As with the other dimensions of wellbeing, it’s incumbent upon the employer to understand the needs of their workforce and determine which offerings could alleviate these pressures.
“One of the enduring legacies of the pandemic may be individuals’ reevaluation of priorities and the subsequent decision to engage in healthier and more responsible habits,” said Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO, Business Group on Health. “COVID-19 certainly made people feel as though they were not always in control of their own lives. Yet many came to recognize that certain facets of wellbeing are within their control and can be positively influenced by the choices they make every day.”
About the Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study
The 2021 Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study marks the 11th year that Alight has examined employees’ wellbeing attitudes and experiences. An online survey was fielded in the first quarter of 2021 and responses were received from 2,501 U.S.-based employees working at companies with 1,000+ employees. The respondents reflect all generations of the workforce who have diverse perspectives, motivations and behaviors around wellbeing due to the different stages of their lives and careers.
For more information and to access the complete report, please visit alight.com.
About Alight Solutions
With an unwavering belief that a company’s success starts with its people, Alight Solutions is a leading cloud-based provider of integrated digital human capital and business solutions. Leveraging proprietary AI and data analytics, Alight optimizes business process as a service (BPaaS) to deliver superior outcomes for employees and employers across a comprehensive portfolio of services. Alight allows employees to enrich their health, wealth and work while enabling global organizations to achieve a high-performance culture. Alight’s 15,000 dedicated colleagues serve more than 30 million employees and family members. Learn how Alight helps organizations of all sizes, including over 70% of the Fortune 100 at alight.com.
About Business Group on Health
Business Group on Health is the leading non-profit organization representing large employers’ perspectives on optimizing workforce strategy through innovative health, benefits and well-being solutions and on health policy issues. The Business Group keeps its membership informed of leading-edge thinking and action on health care cost and delivery, financing, affordability and experience with the health care system. Business Group members include 70 Fortune 100 companies as well as large public-sector employers, who collectively provide health and well-being programs for more than 60 million individuals in 200 countries. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.