Workforce wellbeing has become an increasingly important issue for organizations globally. However, many organizations focus on simply adding new benefit programs as a traditional response to an unexpected disruption. Although expanded program offerings can be helpful, the shift in expectations around work and the workplace is causing burnout and other barriers to worker wellbeing at unprecedented levels. There is no one “silver bullet” benefit program that can fix it all.
Embedding Wellbeing into the Work Itself
Organizations that pioneer wellbeing look beyond programmatic support and focus on building wellbeing into the work itself. For instance, many organizations are experimenting with shortening the five-day workweek to four, which is resulting in positive outcomes, including more time for workers to rest and recover, lower absenteeism and resignation rates, and environmental benefits. However, leading organizations over the past two years have gone one step further and looked at workforce wellbeing as an organizational, team, and individual responsibility. These organizations set goals and built measurement criteria to drive ownership and accountability for wellbeing.
Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends survey has emphasized the importance of embedding wellbeing throughout the workforce experience, specifically in the following ways:
- Experimenting with not just where but how work should be done: To get there, monitor satisfaction with hybrid and remote work models within your workforce and remain agile to the needs of the work and the workers.
- Harnessing worker agency: Find ways to leverage worker motivation and co-creation to drive mutual benefits for workers and employers.
- Using technology to automate and augment in ways that encourage humans to be their best selves and to do better work.
These observations, collected across 10,000 responses from 139 countries across the globe, underscore the role organizations can play in defining and enabling workforce wellbeing. However, many organizations continue to struggle to create meaningful impact at the team and individual levels.
How to Support Workers
Here are some ways organizations can better support workers:
- Increase the frequency of workforce sensing: Continuously engage the workforce to better understand their unmet needs and expectations related to wellbeing. Help them develop a plan to prepare for eventual stressors (versus reacting to them).
- Lead by example: Educate leadership and people managers on how to demonstrate wellbeing behaviors in positive and supportive ways. For example, there is a difference between leaders stating the importance of disconnecting from work and actually demonstrating it by visibly taking paid time off and role-modeling the right behaviors and protocols that allow for full recovery while empowering others to thrive in their absence.
- Broadcast workers’ options: Workers should know what’s available and how it can help. Centralize and communicate all of the wellbeing support that is available to workers (and their families) and highlight success stories in “refresher campaigns” so workers are reminded of the valuable support that is available.
- Iterate and improve: Continuously measure, assess, and, when necessary, revise your strategy and approach to supporting workforce wellbeing. This means creating an environment where your workforce feels comfortable bringing their full and authentic selves, and then crafting strategies and supporting behaviors to help address challenges.
- Make it a core value: The shift from talking the talk to walking the talk is crucial in transforming the organization’s culture and integrating wellbeing into its DNA. Workers—in particular, Millennials and those in Gen Z—are paying close attention to the mission, purpose, and values of their employers. Being branded as an organization that authentically practices wellbeing requires wellbeing to be ingrained in its values.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, organizations that prioritize their workers’ wellbeing will stand out as employers of choice. Prioritizing employee health through embedding wellbeing into the work itself and supporting workers’ needs and expectations can drive improved productivity, employee retention, and job satisfaction. Organizations that prioritize worker wellbeing can reap the benefits of a healthier, more engaged workforce that is committed to delivering excellent results.
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