Learn about organizational well-being and how to create it in your workplace.
Maintaining a high degree of organizational well-being is crucial for the long-term success of any business. As a result, leaders and managers must implement effective strategies and best practices to enhance well-being inside their organizations.
In this post, we will go over some of the best practices and recommendations organizations can implement to support employees and empower them to be creative, adaptive, and resilient.
The concept of organizational well-being is not new. In 2010, the National Institute of Health defined it as an organization's ability to promote and maintain employees' physical, psychological, and social well-being at all levels and for every job.
Employer-sponsored benefits like health care plans and wellness programs contribute to individual employee wellness. Organizational well-being incorporates the importance of individual employee wellness into the company culture with increased communication, invitations for feedback, ongoing education, and organizational policies.
Organizational well-being isn't something that businesses can achieve overnight. Even as employers listened to the mental health concerns of their employees, many benefits offerings and wellness programs failed to hit the mark.
According to a study commissioned by Modern Health and conducted by Forrester Consulting, 84% of employers entered 2022 with a plan to increase or enhance mental health benefits. Additional research shows that 23% of employees reported that employers introduced new mental health services during the pandemic. However, employee assistance programs (EAPs) are still the most offered support, even when known to have low adoption rates.
These discrepancies may be why such a wide gap exists between employer and employee views. While 85% of employers say they actively listen to the needs of employees, only 51% of employees feel the same way.
Extensive research from the Josh Bersin Company identifies four levels of maturity necessary to shift wellbeing from a benefit offered by employers to a culture of organizational health.
The four levels of a healthy organization include the following.
A healthy organization begins with safety. To perform effectively, employees need the tools to maintain physical safety. This may include equipment and processes.
Psychological safety is also essential in the workplace. Employers should cultivate a psychologically safe work environment as a prerequisite for any DEIB efforts. To develop a strategy that fosters belonging, employers should move past tolerance and inclusion to integrative policies that consider your culture and others’ in every encounter. 90% of global employees say psychological safety is important for productivity, preventing mistakes, creativity at work, and retention.
Only with psychological safety can all employees have the confidence to ask questions, offer ideas, and always bring oneself to work without fear of repercussions. Belonging cannot exist without psychological safety or feeling confident that questions, ideas, and self-expression won’t be judged negatively by the group. This is important because employees with a sense of belonging are more likely to be engaged in their work, feel loyal to their organization, and intend to stay at their job.
Employee well-being includes physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health and work/life balance. Employers can provide health care and mental health benefits, flexible schedules, education, and other policies. By gathering employee feedback, employers are more likely to provide benefits that meet their needs.
Management practices and workload are among the most important parts of healthy work. Yet, employers often don't recognize the signs of burnout in high performers. Previously mentioned research shows 76% of high performers are enthusiastic about their job, but 53% are pushing through burnout.
Gallup cites that job dissatisfaction and burnout correlate most with unmanageable workloads, unclear communication, lack of manager support, and unreasonable time pressure. When employers provide employees with the right tools, resources, and time, employees feel more productive and relaxed on the job.
At level 4, companies examine the company's health from top to bottom. A healthy organization promotes employee wellness with benefits and encouragement to use them.
Organizational processes support employee well-being and mitigate stress. Indicators of success include employee retention, engagement, satisfaction, and performance.
The job market continues to be characterized by ample job opportunities and high levels of voluntary turnover. Gallup also revealed that employees are experiencing high rates of job dissatisfaction, disengagement, and unhappiness.
A single organizational change cannot address all the long-term stressors of poor work conditions. Organizational well-being can address these issues employees face across industries in all countries.
Employee stress is at an all-time high, with 44% of employees experiencing stress daily. Overall well-being has also dropped globally, with Europe and South Asia noting the biggest decline.
Employees are in a position to help. In fact, 73% of employees and 81% of managers say they would be more likely to stay at a company that offered high-quality resources to care for their mental health.
Increased stress and decreased well-being lead to lower engagement, resulting in declined performance. Previously mentioned research suggests businesses with engaged employees have 23% higher profits than those with unhappy workers.
The term "quiet quitting" became mainstream in 2022, where employees do the bare minimum required by their job role. Instead of quitting work at a company that mistreats employees, they simply invest only enough effort to collect a paycheck.
Research shows that the US ranks 29th for work-life balance out of 41 countries. Italy, Denmark, and Norway top the list, while Mexico, Turkey, and Colombia work the longest hours. Poor work-life balance leads to low engagement, burnout, and increased turnover.
Only 21% of employees are engaged at work. Low engagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion and increases turnover. Disengagement can also lead to lower company morale, affecting previously engaged workers.
Events in and out of the workplace affect employees. Employees want and need to feel connected, supported, and seen at work to combat burnout.
Employee well-being recognizes each employee as an individual and the resources and processes required to help employees achieve physical, spiritual, and social wellness. Employee well-being results in higher performance, morale, and engagement levels. It incorporates the features that promote employee well-being (and the resulting benefits) into organizational policies and practices.
Here are the reasons to make it a priority.
Organizational well-being practices include open communication and feedback about workflow and performance. As a result, employers are more likely to provide the necessary tools and resources for employees to effectively complete necessary tasks.
When employees have the support, tools, and care that matches their needs, they're more engaged. Employees feel more connected by promoting a feedback culture that prioritizes psychological safety.
Healthy, happy, engaged employees are more likely to want to stay at an organization. This increases retention and productivity as a result.
Employer-sponsored benefits that promote physical and mental wellness reduce health risks for employees with preventive care and healthy actions. In healthy organizations, employers engage in open communications that encourage employees to use benefits and reduce mental health stigma.
High-performing companies with happy employees have a way of attracting top talent. Happy employees share their experiences on social media and other outlets. These companies also offer some of the top benefits desired by modern employees.
Organizational well-being promotes a culture of feedback and encourages employees to speak up to solve problems. This communicative environment empowers employees to be themselves and encourages teams to collaborate, allowing them to build deeper and more human-centered relationships.
To improve or enhance the benefits you provide for employees and your organization's culture, you must understand what's working. Developing organizational well-being requires research and action with the intent to improve the overall workplace environment.
These steps can help you establish organizational well-being:
Organizational well-being isn't just a single goal or publicized mission statement. It's a change in company strategy that focuses on organizational change by prioritizing the needs of employees.
Change begins at the top with commitment from leaders to bring well-being to the organization. This includes the recognition that the company should provide value for both leaders and employees. When company leaders take actionable steps to improve employee well-being, they can boost morale.
Such actions include investments in resources like well-being initiatives and changing processes to improve employees' lifestyles. For example, investments in mental health benefits tailored to individual needs improve employees' mental well-being and address many roadblocks to access to care.
The disconnect between employee and employer perceptions of being heard is significant, with a gap of 34%. To bridge this gap, employers must actively involve employees in decision-making processes through open communication channels, such as surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews. It is crucial for leaders to cultivate a workplace culture that encourages open expression and empowers employees to voice their opinions freely. By doing so, employers can foster a more engaged, invested, and satisfied workforce.
Once you establish these changes, cultivating your company culture and values and continually reinforcing them is important. Make sure established and new employees understand the company values and how they influence company culture. Reinforce these values with actions that support employees and often communicate the organization's dedication to values.
Organizational well-being generates culture and establishes benefits that improve all employees' physical, mental, and social well-being. Businesses can recognize many advantages by learning about the actions most likely to benefit employees and establishing relevant benefits and processes.
Interested in learning more about the organizational ROI of employee mental health benefits? Download our guide: The ROI of Workplace Mental Health Benefits.
Gabriella Chavarin is Head of Content Marketing at Modern Health, a global mental health platform that helps keep employees healthy & resilient. Previously, Gabriella worked as a Marketing Manager for a national health payer organization, and she brings a wealth of healthcare and marketing experience to the Modern Health team.
Modern Health’s clinically-designed substance use support addresses the entire spectrum of needs, providing proactive detection and outreach, comprehensive clinical treatment, specialized care coordination for members with high-acuity needs, and evidence-based preventative care and education.
Lydia Wright, Senior Manager of Global Benefits at Atlassian, and Emma Woodburn, Benefits Specialist at Intel, join Modern Health at Elevate 2022 to discuss how culturally centered care and engagement campaigns in preferred languages and time zones significantly boosts employee benefit utilization.