Employee Well-being Best Practices
“The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” movements have opened an important dialogue between employers and employees, notably around well-being. Professionals found their voice in an era of record quit rates and reshuffling jobs. Finally, saying “enough is enough” to employee burnout — exhaustion from unmanaged, chronic workplace stress. Even so, 84% of millennials still experience burnout in their current positions. 75% of professionals, overall, have experienced burnout at some point in their careers.
While the pandemic drove home the need to prioritize employee well-being, recent Gartner surveys show companies still have work to do. First and foremost, understanding what “well-being” in the workplace entails is crucial. It’s far from a surface-level matter.
What is employee well-being?
Employee well-being is expanded beyond physical well-being and fitness incentives. While physical health is essential, it is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Companies must also consider job security, financial incentives, and career advancement opportunities. Additionally, well-being includes employees’ mental health. How purposeful do employees feel with their job? Does their company offer the proper support and flexibility for work-life balance?
You see, employee well-being isn’t just a buzzword of a moment. It’s a progressive, need-based change among employees finally prioritizing their health over work. Whether this is their physical, mental, or emotional health, well-being covers how employees feel during work and how it affects their time off work.
There are six main pillars to employee well-being. Let’s dive into what those are, as well as employee tips and company initiatives to support them.
Physical well-being best practices
Physical health is the most known pillar of employee well-being. Years before the pandemic, a growing number of companies made physical health a priority. They began launching fitness reimbursement programs, which pay employees for fitness services and activities. While these incentives are beneficial, they initially only targeted exercise.
Today, physical well-being encompasses more aspects such as sleep, food choices, and our overall lifestyle – after all, it is our most fundamental energy source. For example, sitting at a desk all day harms our back and posture. To combat this, some companies now offer stand-up desks – both remote and in-office. We can no longer deny that our simple habits can follow us home from work or be brought to work.
Employee Physical Well-Being Tips:
- Stand up for short meetings
- Get more sleep each night
- Wind down before bed
- Do not skip lunch
- Snack to get energized
- Hydrate for your mind
- Track your daily steps
- Schedule a workout
Employer Physical Well-Being Initiatives:
- Offer fitness reimbursement programs – such as Incentfit or Espresa – that promote exercise
- Offer healthy food options in your cafeteria and include the nutrition facts
- Start a fitness or healthy eating competition within work teams or departments
Career well-being best practices
The pandemic brought unforeseen layoffs. The topic of job security is far from new, but it has become more prominent in recent years. Professionals want to feel confident that their hard work will be rewarded, not only in secure employment but also in career advancement.
The next pillar of employee well-being is career well-being. It is difficult for individuals to thrive when they feel their livelihood is either in jeopardy or at a standstill. Both can influence employees’ morale, productivity, and disengagement. 63% of employees say that a lack of career development opportunities is enough for them to leave their current employer.
So, how do companies show their employees they are valued?
Companies can create a work environment that advocates for internal promotions. Currently, the choice to hire externally is made 18% more often than promoting an internal employee. However, internal hires retain organizational knowledge and can get up to speed in their new role quicker than external hires. Hiring within shows that you appreciate your current employees.
Another way to show value is through employee recognition programs. 65% of employees haven’t received any form of recognition for their good work in the past year.
When people don’t feel appreciated for their hard work, they aren’t inclined to continue to produce. Rewarding employees for their effort and dedication shows you value what they contribute. More than 40% of employees say they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.
Employee Career Well-Being Tips:
- Establish your competitive edge and bring it to work each day
- Ask for feedback often from your manager and colleagues
- Engage in professional development with continued learning programs
- Keep track of your accomplishments
Employer Career Well-Being Initiatives:
- Adapt employee recognition platforms – such as Nectar and Kudos – to recognize employees’ hard work
- Check-in with employees to inspire, guide, and support career advancement – what that path looks like and what needs to be done to get there
Financial well-being best practices
Finances are one of the top causes of employee stress, above their job, health and relationships combined. With recent inflation affecting everything – rent, gas, and groceries – professionals are more concerned about their annual salary. With their income remaining the same while their living expenses increase, finances can become a distraction. Professionals are more motivated at work when they are out of “survival mode.” While this is relative, as everyone has a different lifestyle, it holds true.
That said, finances were always a factor in well-being – even before recent inflation. Though not many discuss the topic – due to its sensitive nature – employees and employers must address it.
Employee Financial Well-Being Tips:
- Keep track of your accomplishments to use during pay negotiations
- Ask your manager to create a pathway to promotion
Employer Financial Well-Being Initiatives:
- Offer merit increases yearly, dependent on employee performance
- Offer more additional paid time off (PTO) days to counter stress
- Offer benefits such as health, dental, 401K, and more
- Create a career pathway for employees that lead to internal promotions
Social well-being best practices
Relationships play a key role in our happiness, both in our personal and professional lives. Social well-being – sharing, developing, and sustaining meaningful relationships with others – is more important than we realize. People found themselves lonely when the pandemic forced us into solitude, whether with remote work or shutdowns. Without basic social interactions, many people’s motivation and energy levels dropped. 65% of employees said they felt isolated and cut off from society. Today, 51% of remote workers still feel secluded. Despite its flexibility, the loss of community can contribute to increased stress – and ultimately – employee burnout.
A sense of community at work has been proven to increase employee productivity. Companies can build communities within their organization based on like-minded interests. They can also offer paid time off for volunteering events or local luncheons, encouraging co-workers to come together.
Whether your company is in-office, hybrid, or remote, social well-being for workers should be a top priority. Receiving validation and social support from colleagues boosts employees’ morale.
Employee Social Well-Being Tips:
- Ask your manager what small groups are available to join
- If you notice you and some co-workers have a shared interest, explore the steps to creating a new small group
Employer Social Well-Being Initiatives:
- Encourage employees to build and join small support groups.
- Offer volunteer time off (VTO) and a corporate volunteer day with a list of local non-profits to join.
- Host corporate luncheons at the team or department levels
Purpose well-being best practices
Purpose matters to employees and is also part of well-being. “The Great Resignation” has also been coined “The Great Reflection” due to professionals questioning the meaning of their work. Employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. The pandemic has been a catalyst for people to reevaluate how they spend their time and energy.
Though, finding purpose at work is not specific to an employee’s job role. 82% of professionals believe it’s more important for their company to have a purpose. People are more motivated when they feel that they are creating an impact.
Does the company’s mission ultimately serve the greater good?
Employee Purpose Well-Being Tips:
- Learn your company’s core values and how they impact the overall business strategy
- Understand how your and your team’s goals connect with the organization’s goals
- Leverage your strengths and encourage team members to do the same
Employer Purpose Well-Being Initiatives:
- Establish core values that serve as cultural cornerstones for the company
- Have a meaningful mission statement that identifies your customer’s needs, how the organization will meet them, and how success will be measured
Mental well-being best practices
Not only do employees crave purpose, but they also want a safe space to be themselves. More professionals are bringing their authentic selves to work – whether this is uncovering their tattoos, proudly displaying their pronouns, or unapologetically being diverse. Hiding integral parts of our identity only harms our mental health and self-worth.
Today, with social media, businesses have increased visibility into the daily struggles of their employees. Companies can shift their focus from organizational issues to individual human life experiences. They can support their staff by offering corporate-wide well-being days. Employees can take this time to recharge so that when they return to work, they are more fulfilled and attentive.
Well-being days also support work-life balance by valuing employees’ personal lives. 66% of employees say they don’t have a work-life balance. With remote and hybrid work, the lines begin to blur. This imbalance affects employees’ performance and can result in burnout. It’s important that leaders not only support, but set, boundaries for their staff. Companies should avoid normalizing the “instant messaging” culture – any messages sent during off-hours should not require immediate attention.
Employee Mental Well-Being Tips:
- Do not work through your lunch
- Use your paid time off (PTO)
- When you are logged off, do not check your email or messages
- Set and communicate your work hours with your colleagues and customers – especially when working in different time zones
Employer Mental Well-Being Initiatives:
- Take deliberate actions to de-stigmatize mental health, including offering paid well-being days
- Offer mental health benefits in your health insurance plans
- Advocate for your employees to take their PTO and make work-life balance a priority
- Identify diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) as a strategic priority
- Consistently train and engage employees on DEIB
Create an Employee Well-Being Strategy
Employers need to view well-being as an opportunity to support workers in all facets of their personal and professional lives – not as a benefit. Today, professionals desire to work for companies that align with their values and support their well-being. Building out a well-being strategy for staff should be a top priority. It can no longer be pushed to the side. After all, when an employee is fulfilled, the overall quality of their work improves.
Healthy employees – in all aspects of well-being – are happy employees.