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Workplace Wellness: Why Your Employee’s Well-Being Matters

Workplace Wellness

Workplace Wellness: Why Your Employees’ Well-Being Matters. As an employer, you’re probably concerned about your employees’ well being. After all, a happier, healthier workforce is a more productive one. Here’s something that may surprise you, though: while 56% of employers believe their wellness programs are effective at encouraging employees to adopt healthier lifestyles, just 32% of employees agrees that’s actually the case.


That’s according to Willis Towers Watson’s recent Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, cited in this article on its blog — the first of a three-part series focused on what it calls “Well-being 3.0.” Willis Towers Watson advocates a holistic approach that accounts for four facets of employee well being: physical, financial, emotional and social. Tapping all four dimensions is key to fostering engagement in employee well-being programs, the benefits research firm says.

What does that look like, exactly? Until recently, employers offered solutions that accounted for one, maybe two, of these dimensions — but rarely covered the entire spectrum of employees’ needs. The most important aspect? Focusing on employees holistically, but also as individuals. According to Willis Towers Watson, from an employee’s point of view, the four dimensions are:

Physical: I understand and manage my physical health in order to improve my condition and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately… respond effectively to acute and unexpected illnesses and injuries. I.e., I feel alive, healthy and strong. I am thriving.

Financial: I assess and manage my financial commitments in order to meet my financial goals, make better choices, and ultimately… be better prepared to absorb a financial shock. I.e., I feel comfortable financially. I am secure.

Emotional: I achieve self-awareness and maintain my mental health in order to improve my emotional health, better manage stress, and ultimately… be equipped to handle unexpected life crises. I.e., I feel together and grounded. I am balanced.

Social: I develop and maintain my support network in order to strengthen and cultivate meaningful connections and ultimately… become more adept at resolving issues and conflict. I.e., I feel supported and loved. I am connected.“

So how do employers make the shift to Well-being 3.0? Keep in mind that your employees are all at different stages of their well-being journey, and therefore, taking a more personalized approach that meets their individual, unique needs is the best way to get them to engage and benefit from wellness programs at work. Willis Towers Watson recommends following six steps:

  1. Assess where your company is currently in terms of addressing each of the four dimensions of well-being defined above. Consider both the employee perspective as well as your leadership’s point of view.
  2. Set goals and objectives to help close the gaps identified in your assessment and develop guiding principles for design and prioritization of your strategy.
  3. Design your well-being program. Consider decision support and educational tools across each of the key dimensions.
  4. Consider vendor solutions and software tools to implement programs you determine are needed across each dimension (e.g., diet and exercise tracking for Physical; retirement counseling sessions for Financial, Employee Assistance Programs for Emotional; eLearning platforms to promote positive workplace culture and diversity initiatives for Social).
  5. Implement processes for managing vendors and tracking progress.
  6. Engage employees through campaigns, training, ongoing communications and the rollout of individualized solutions.

Why does employee well-being matter? According to Willis Towers Watson, “Our research indicates that companies with high levels of employee well-being achieve better business outcomes, including more highly-engaged employees, fewer highly-stressed employees and fewer days missed by employees per year due to unexpected illness or presenteeism. Additionally, on average, US employers realized approximately $1,000 lower annual health care costs per employee.”

Additionally, it stands to reason that improvements in your employees’ well-being likely translates to better savings habits, less financial anxiety, and a greater potential for successful outcomes at retirement. After all, a workforce that feels secure in all four pillars of their individual well-being, including the financial aspect, is more likely to feel empowered to make positive, more informed choices that help set them up well for the future. That’s yet another “plus” of focusing holistically on your employees’ well-being.

The bottom line: adopting a more holistic approach to employee wellness, and focusing on overall effectiveness, results in improved business performance and a happier, healthier, more productive workforce. That sounds like a win-win (and a no-brainer) to us.

Robyn Kurdek

Robyn Kurdek

Freelance writer with nearly 2 decades of financial industry experience, with niche expertise in the defined contribution (DC) industry. I also have defined benefit (DB) plan knowledge. I write all types of content for retirement plan participants, sponsors and advisors, including web copy, newsletters, white papers, fact sheets, blog posts, financial wellness articles, and more. "I speak DC."
Robyn Kurdek

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