Putting People First: Why Employee Wellbeing Should Be a Top Priority for Companies

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As the world of work becomes increasingly hybrid, companies must prioritize employee well-being and recognition to maintain a productive and engaged workforce. Investing in employee well-being can lead to increased productivity and profitability, while regular and meaningful recognition can boost morale and motivation. Here’s how companies can adapt their strategies to meet the unique needs of their workforce.

Covid-19’s pandemic has dramatically transformed how we work, ushered in by hybrid work models combining remote and in-person work. However, this transition poses new challenges to companies and employees alike; prioritizing employee well-being and recognition has become imperative for maintaining productive and engaged workforces.

Take a look at absenteeism. In addition to the impact of COVID-19 infections causing employee absenteeism, there has been a noticeable increase in mental health-related issues. In France, mental health-related sick days increased from 15% in 2020 to 20% in 2022. Similarly, sick days related to mental health have doubled for the U.K.’s National Health Service since the pandemic began, resulting in an annual cost of nearly half a billion.

Companies facing difficult economic times may be tempted to reduce costs and focus only on their bottom lines, but research indicates that investing in employee well-being can actually lead to greater productivity and profits. By supporting mental and physical health programs for employees, firms can reduce absenteeism, turnover rates, and healthcare costs while engaging and motivating workers resulting in more innovation and creativity from them.

One mistake companies and HR leaders commonly make in regard to employee well-being is viewing it as a one-size-fits-all solution. Each employee has unique needs and challenges, which should be reflected in a comprehensive well-being strategy. Resources and support options such as mental health services, flexible work arrangements, and opportunities for professional development should also be offered for optimal employee well-being initiatives. Companies should collect feedback regularly from employees so they can ensure these initiatives meet employee requirements effectively.

Recognition is another crucial aspect of employee well-being. A lack of recognition can contribute to low morale and disengagement; while frequent and meaningful acknowledgments of employees’ achievements can boost motivation and job satisfaction. Recognizing employees doesn’t need to involve formal awards or bonuses alone – simple gestures like showing our thanks publicly acknowledge a job well done can go a long way toward making employees feel valued.

Leaders play a crucial role in promoting employee well-being in the workplace. They have the power to set the tone for the company culture and create an environment where employees feel supported, valued, and empowered. By acknowledging the prevalence of mental health challenges in the workplace, leaders have the power to shift the culture and raise awareness of this pressing concern. It’s important to note that leaders at all levels can experience depression, anxiety, and stress at work. However, by recognizing and addressing the root causes, leaders can demonstrate a commitment to supporting their own and others’ well-being.

Redesigning work may also promote employee well-being and health – and it does not require major capital investment. As it’s highlighted in this HBR article, recent research suggests that “strategically changing workplace conditions to foster worker well-being not only improves worker health but can also bring about beneficial business outcomes such as improved job performance (including increased productivity) and lower levels of employee burnout.”

Proactive and flexible approaches to employee wellbeing and recognition in today’s hybrid work world are the keys to creating an atmosphere conducive to employee wellness and engagement, benefitting both employees and bottom lines alike. Businesses should regularly review and adapt their well-being initiatives according to employee needs as they change, prioritizing employee well-being over financial considerations when prioritizing employee wellbeing initiatives and recognition programs. Prioritizing well-being helps create an ideal work environment that supports both employees and the bottom line alike.

To explore this important topic further, join the Reimagining Wellbeing & Recognition online forum on the 23rd May.

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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