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What Is Employee Well-being And Why Is It Important In The Workplace?

What is employee well-being, and why is it essential for business success?

Businesses across the globe have spent the last few years adjusting to a constant onslaught of unexpected events and changes. As employers look toward 2023, the current economic climate will be a major factor in all decisions. A recent survey shows that employees are feeling the pinch too. 

With inflation impacting every area of spending, most employees are seeking ways to cut spending to focus on necessities. While health care is a critical necessity, cutting back often means delaying care that promotes overall wellness. 

Employers are in a position to alleviate some of the stress employees are feeling about financial well-being. Eighty-eight percent of employees believe benefits support their financial security. Employees are more focused, engaged, and committed to their company when they provide essential employer mental health benefits that alleviate stress and improve mental and physical wellness.

What Is Employee Well-Being, and Why Is It Important in the Workplace?

Employee well-being is a term used to encompass various aspects of an employee's life. It includes physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health and work/life balance. 

Employee well-being promotes clear goals, effective collaboration, and improved company culture in the workplace. While each individual's needs will be different, there are a few reasons why employee well-being is so important in the workplace.

Healthy employees are productive and efficient. They take fewer sick days and are less likely to be absent from work. Company culture is improved when employees have the tools they need to promote physical and mental well-being. The resulting positive work environment further contributes to employee well-being and engagement. 

Alongside this cycle of improved well-being, the introduction of high-value benefits makes employees feel valued and appreciated, resulting in higher rates of happiness and engagement. These positive contributions improve communication and teamwork and boost morale, reducing staff turnover rates.

In short, employee well-being is essential for a healthy and productive workforce. Employers can create a more positive and productive work environment by supporting employees' well-being. 

The Benefits of Employee Well-Being

Employee well-being includes physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health and work/life balance. While it's true that well-being helps employees avoid problems, that's not all it's about. 

Employee well-being is a vital contributor to achieving positive outcomes. When employees have tools to prioritize their mental and physical health, they're more likely to set and reach personal and career goals. 

Healthy employees are more productive and efficient. Promoting employee well-being is good for business because it can improve communication and teamwork and boost morale, ultimately helping reduce staff turnover rates. Additionally, employees who feel valued and appreciated are happier and more engaged in their work. 

 Recent research from recruitment company Zippia shows happy employees are more engaged and productive than their less happy counterparts. The study found that happy employees were 13% more productive, had 41% less absenteeism, and were 18% less likely to leave their jobs. This study shows that investing in employee well-being provides advantages for employers. 

However, employers and employees have significantly different views about conditions in the workplace. Our own Modern Health study conducted by Forrester Health revealed important differences between how employers and employees feel:

  • While 71% of employers believe employees feel they're encouraged to take time off for mental health needs like therapy, only 46% of employees feel that way.
  • 74% of employers believe employees feel encouraged to use PTO, but only 53% feel that way.
  • While 71% of employers think employees feel heard by senior leaders, only 45% agree that they feel that way.
  • 71% of employers believe employees feel safe in their role/future regardless of their mental health status, while only 51% of employees feel that way.
  • 73% of employers think employees feel utilized appropriately, while only 48% feel that way.

The first step to achieving the benefits of employee well-being is to learn what services are most likely to meet the needs of your employees.

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The Challenges of Implementing Employee Well-Being Programs

Employee well-being programs aren't new. Yet, many fail to provide services that are relevant for employees accurately. While 74% of employees want their employer to care about their mental health, several challenges can arise while implementing employee well-being programs.

Employers who decide to invest in an employee wellness program are often disappointed with resistance from management and employees. Mental health stigma is a particular concern in the workplace. 

When employees fear others will have negative thoughts and opinions about them, they're less likely to seek mental health treatment. Even more concerning, nearly half of employees fear repercussions for being open about their mental health.

Funding can be another hurdle. Rising inflation and economic uncertainty typically force companies to cut costs. During such uncertain times, employers fear limited or even negative returns on mental health benefits. 

While 71% of employers believe that offering mental health benefits is too costly, even more fear that focusing on mental health could have a reverse ROI through things like employees working fewer hours to care for their mental health and being less available to respond to messages. As a result, it can be difficult to source funding for employee mental health benefits.

Perhaps even worse, limited access to mental health care can result in poor adoption rates. Overall, only 43% of adults in the U.S. experiencing mental health challenges receive the care they need. Breaking those numbers down further reveals that 50% of white Americans receive care. In comparison, only 31% of employees in the Black community, 33% in Hispanic communities, and 25% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive counseling or therapy. 

Such limited access can be due to insurance or financial barriers and a low number of providers in a given area. There is only one licensed therapist for every 3,000 people in the U.S. 

Poor access to mental health care is not limited to the U.S. In low and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological, and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition. Global mental health benefits are essential for employees in today's diverse workforce.

While many barriers can be overcome, the biggest obstacle to implementing an effective wellness program is more complex. A lack of understanding of the importance of employee well-being can limit success. Well-being is associated with longevity, healthy behaviors, mental and physical illness, social connectedness, and productivity. 

These factors have a significant impact on the way employees perform in the workplace. Without a clear understanding of well-being benefits, employers will likely have limited success implementing effective programs.

How to Create a Culture of Employee Well-Being in Your Workplace

The challenges of mental health programs don't have to be a barrier to success. Awareness of potential hurdles can provide employers with the tools to overcome obstacles. For example, the questions surrounding funding and potential ROI can be addressed with data analysis that provides employers with measurable data. 

By offering employees benefits that provide multiple modalities of care, adoption rates are higher, and stigma is reduced. Modern Health even helps employers address the challenges of limited access with an extensive network of experienced providers from various backgrounds, including clinical, counseling, health psychology, psychiatry, social work, research, and coaching. 

Beyond addressing potential challenges of well-being programs, employers can also promote employee well-being through their policies and communication. For example, you can make it clear that employee well-being is a priority for the company and that employees are encouraged to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you partner with a provider that offers roll-out assistance, you can provide employees with more resources to choose the benefits most likely to meet their needs. 

For example, Modern Health assists with roll-out by providing resources for employees and actively assists with full onboarding support, executed from start to finish within 14 days. Communicating clearly and often with employees about available benefits is essential for healthy adoption rates. 

When it comes to mental health care, one size does not fit all. By seeking options that provide multiple modalities of care, you can offer benefits programs tailored to individuals to encourage adoption and engagement. 

As employees face the challenges of inflation and economic uncertainty entering 2023, the importance of benefits prioritizing employee well-being cannot be overstated. With more employees prioritizing their mental well-being than ever, employers and benefits leaders must understand the vital role that mental health benefits play in increasing business returns, reducing voluntary and involuntary turnover, and eliminating employee engagement challenges. 

By partnering with Modern Health to provide your employees with equitable and accessible high-quality mental health benefits, you can eliminate many challenges that arise with traditional solutions like EAPs. Interested in learning more about the ROI of mental health benefits? Talk with one of our mental health experts.

Modern Health

Modern Health is the comprehensive mental wellness platform that combines the WHO well-being assessment, self-service wellness kits, an international network of certified coaches, and licensed therapists available in 35 languages all in a single app. Modern Health empowers employers to lead the charge in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, de-stigmatizing the conversation, and increasing accessibility of mental health services for all.