Over the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of talk about health and well-being - especially as it relates to the way we work. Any forward-thinking employer knows that promoting employee wellness is good for people and good for business. However, few realize just how massive of a difference a healthy workforce can make, and most of us fail to understand the incredible urgency that the current mental health crisis has created.
Let’s start with a brief look at how bad things have gotten. Maybe you’ve read last week Financial Times article and the chilling testimony from a UK-based EAP provider (Employee Assistance Program) : “We were never designed to be a crisis line,” says Bertrand Stern-Gillet, who runs Health Assured, the biggest EAP provider in the UK with more than 80,000 clients. But he says “high risk” calls have now become a daily occurrence, ranging from child or adult safeguarding concerns to someone who “might have taken a significant amount of pills, or they might be standing on a bridge”.’ Moving across the pond, a recent Pathways US worker study found that 90% of workers feared they would burnout and 88% felt high levels of stress and anxiety (one third labeling that stress as “extreme and unsustainable”). Yes, this is how bad the problem has gotten.
And yet, a true sense of urgency is seldom seen when it comes to tackling the employee mental health crisis. I see here some concerning commonalities with the Climate change conversation: we all know how essential a problem it has become, but really we are not ready to change anything in our behaviors.
I recognize it is hardly a positive way to start this article, but will try to highlight the opportunity and business case that comes with having a physically and mentally healthy workforce rather than focusing on the at-times-gruesome details of the current mental health crisis.
It must be said that today’s businesses are more motivated than ever to create and support employees’ mental and physical health, even if only to boost productivity. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 63 million workers are now covered by wellness programs through their employer. Studies show the countless links between employee well-being and business success. And, as change accelerates around us, one thing remains constant: happier people working for happier companies perform better mentally, physically, and socially.
The evidence is clear: it’s time to invest in a healthy workforce. Not convinced? The following is a roundup of the biggest takeaways from the latest Economist Impact Report, commissioned by Cigna.
The Business Case
For a workforce to be considered healthy, employees must experience physical, mental and social well-being. Because employees spend so much time at work, it’s only natural that employers play an important role in providing an environment that promotes health and wellness. Consider these figures:
- A health promoting work culture can increase employee engagement (+37%) and productivity (+45%).
- On average, companies with high employee engagement have been found to be 23% more profitable.
- 9 in 10 executives surveyed believe that investment in employee health & wellness has a direct impact on a company’s financial performance.
In addition to lowered engagement, productivity and retention, ignoring workplace health can have a tremendous impact on overall culture. A lack of focus on the human elements of work can lead to disintegration of a company’s people and its components. According to industry expert & consultant, Dr. Ichak Adizes, “the real secret of success resides in health, how healthy the organization is, and how healthy the employees are in the organization.”
The Employer Imperative
Stress and burnout - both at all time highs - often result from poor human resources policies and difficult workplace culture. According to a Mental Health American Workplace Health survey from 2021, 83% of respondents reported feeling emotionally drained because of work, and 70% consider work to be a significant source of stress. Even more shocking? The Economist survey showed that the most significantly rated barriers to business growth today are…you guessed it: fatigue, burnout and stress.
Look at it this way: we spend about 13 entire years of our lives working…our second most time consuming activity after sleep. Therefore, employers have a unique ability and duty to support workers in ways that others cannot. Unlike eating, sleeping and other basic survival activities, employees have a choice when it comes to how, where and when they work. The best companies will be those that create a culture of health. Those that “look at health and well-being through the lens of their company values, thereby establishing strong communication, fortifying workplace relationships and influencing behaviors.” This means: factors such as Trust, Belonging, DEI, and Employee Experience should all be considered as important drivers of workplace well-being, and incorporated into any solid employee benefit offering.
Reimagining Workplace Health
If anything positive has come out of the pandemic, it’s the overwhelming wake-up call for companies to be more actively engaged in the health and well-being of their employees. It’s also been a harsh reminder of many of the larger societal issues that have been brewing in recent years. As evidenced by this eye-opening report, there is mounting proof that having a healthy workforce directly impacts business results and overall happiness. If there’s one thing you should remember it’s that “flourishing individuals make for more dynamic companies.”
Amidst record levels of change and turnover, many companies are rushing to offer transactional fixes such as increased pay and improved collaboration technology. However, what employees are really seeking is special attention to less tangible factors like cultural and relationship transformation. They’re seeking increased connection, care and support from those around them. That’s exactly where MixR comes in. Our platform is purpose-built to help organizations and their people foster exceptional company cultures rooted in trust, belonging, connection and care. It’s all about developing workplace relationships and celebrating differences to create synergies and be better and healthier, together. MixR is leading the new generation of employee well-being tools by focusing on the human aspects of work.
On that note, we’re excited to share that MixR now meets the criteria for Cigna’s Health Improvement Fund. To learn more about our dedication to improving the health & well-being of employees everywhere, visit www.mixr.net and book a demo today.