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Why an employee wellbeing program is important

employees wondering why an employee wellbeing program is important

The most significant change in employee benefits this decade has been the shift from wellness to wellbeing. Where wellness consists of one-size-fits-all programs that are established to improve the physical health of employees, wellbeing covers four areas of health that employees view as essential:

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Wallet
  • Life

The shift from wellness to wellbeing: How did we get here?

The sheer amount of organizational change companies have experienced over the past 20 years, combined with the stress of a once-in-a-century pandemic, racial injustice, mass shootings and geopolitical events have resulted in a totally stressed-out workforce. Employees are in search of tools and resources that improve overall wellbeing and offer a healthy work/life balance.

Left unchecked, soaring stress levels can be detrimental to wellbeing and affect sleep, nutrition, concentration, frequency of illness/injury and consumption of alcohol and tobacco products. Further, high stress levels can lead to a lack of motivation, reduction in productivity, poor performance, increased absenteeism and even “presenteeism,” where staff come to work but underperform.

While some stress or pressure can enhance work performance, productivity and performance can start to decline when the demands of the job and work intensity become unbearable. Consider for a moment the amount of mental dexterity needed for any given job; people need time and space to think, to generate new ideas, to be creative and exercise accuracy. If physically unwell, stressed, anxious or depressed, it can be difficult to perform any of the above functions.

According to Alight’s 2022 Mindset report, just under one-third (32%) of U.S. employees dread going to work or starting their workday.

Where are we now? Key findings

In Alight’s International workforce and wellbeing mindset report, fewer than half (44%) of employees rated their overall wellbeing positively. Additionally:

  • More than half of employees (54%) say work flexibility is key to managing responsibilities outside work
  • Just 34% of employees feel their employers genuinely care about their wellbeing
  • More than one-in-three (35%) say employer wellbeing benefits and programs make the company more attractive to potential employees
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of employees in the U.S. and western Europe rate their current stress levels as moderate to high
  • 34% say they are suffering symptoms of burnout

The new secret to sustaining the long-term health of a business is to demonstrate employees’ value.

Why wellbeing matters

It’s no secret that by promoting wellbeing at work, you’re creating a positive environment that helps employees thrive and improves overall company performance. But when you demonstrate your investment in employees and break the stigma of asking for help, you also optimize productivity, improve health outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and boost customer satisfaction scores.

Ultimately, a well-structured, targeted employee wellbeing program that’s backed by a measurable strategy will:

  • Alleviate many of the stressors that are detrimental to employee health. This includes financial concerns which are generally near the top of the list of “things that keep people awake at night” and lower overall performance.
  • Help attract and retain talent, particularly in a tight labor market. People want to know that you can support them in times of crisis with the resources and policies that enable them to care for their physical, emotional and financial health.
  • Set investors, business leaders, HR and customers up for success. There is evidence to support that companies that put wellbeing first tend to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  

If people are not convinced by an organization’s true intentions, its investments may be wasted.

What to look for in a wellbeing program

A personalized, tech-enabled approach across all aspects of wellbeing empowers employees to take better control of their health. Alight Worklife has features that combine Artificial Intelligence (AI) and high-touch navigation to support employees through complex decisions that directly impact their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. Look for a wellbeing program and platform that:

  • Creates personalized experiences based on each employee’s unique situation and life stage to ensure more meaningful interactions and increased engagement with their wellness benefits.
  • Links to existing health, wealth and wellbeing employee benefits to create a “engagement and insights platform.” By linking to existing benefits, you extend the perceived value of your total rewards packages. This can be a great talent attraction and retention tactic.

Related reads

Stressed employees – five steps employers can take now to improve wellbeing

No matter where your company is on its wellbeing journey, here are five steps employers can take now to help employee stress.

The epidemic of stress

According to Alight’s 2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Report, 73% of employees in the U.S. and western Europe rate their stress levels as moderate or high.

Forging a path forward for employee wellbeing

Offering wellbeing support to employees is something employers have been prioritizing as part of their overall rewards and benefits strategy in the past decade.