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How to Boost Employee Well-Being in an Age of Uncertainty

February 26, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

One of ASE’s wellness partners, BurnAlong, recently partnered with hr.research Institute to conduct a survey, “The State of Employee Health and Well-being 2021.” The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted employee well-being and employers must react.

The “State of Employee Health and Well-being 2021” survey ran in December 2020 and January 2021 and surveyed over 420 HR professionals in virtually every industry vertical.

Some key findings include:

  • 94% of responding HR professionals said their organization strives to enhance at least one type of employee well-being through a specific initiative.
  • 44% of respondents pursue an approach to well-being that also encompasses financial, social, and workplace environmental well-being.
  • 46% said their well-being efforts are highly effective.
  • 64% of all responding HR professionals stated that the pandemic has significantly reduced the overall well-being of their workforce.
  • 84% say their companies have done a good job of supporting employee well-being since the pandemic began in 2020.
  • 63% agree that mental health is among HR’s top five priorities.
  • When asked about which well-being-related initiatives will be utilized over the next two years, the most common answers were “work remotely” (61%) and “offer flexible work schedules” (54%)

When priority is placed on well-being initiatives in an organization, better outcomes are achieved in a variety of areas, including employee experience, retention, performance, and engagement.  They also have improved safety records, lower medical costs, and fewer disability claims.

The survey data was analyzed in several ways which included dividing respondents into two groups: well-being leaders and well-being laggards:

  • Well-being leaders: These represent respondents who indicate that their organizations have highly or very highly effective programs that promote employee well-being.
  • Well-being laggards: These represent respondents who indicate that their organizations have programs that promote employee well-being to only a moderate, low or very low degree.

Organizations leading the way in well-being place a high priority on mental health. The majority of leaders (83%) agree that employee mental health is among their top five HR priorities. Just half of laggards feel the same way. More than half of leaders (57%) offer stress management support compared to only 37% of laggards. 40% of leaders offer their managers formal training around mental health issues, compared to just 17% of laggards. Laggards are considerably more likely to cite problems across all categories, especially stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and depression.

The survey offers several key takeaways for employer recommendations on how to increase the impact of their employee well-being programs:

  • Take an expansive view of employee well-being which includes mental/emotional, physical, financial, social, and workplace environment. A well-rounded program will have the largest impact.
  • Review employee well-being offerings. Do they meet the current needs of your employees?  Ask managers to gather feedback from employees or do an employee survey.
  • Train managers to better support employees. Managers should be able to identify well-being and safety concerns and direct employees to helpful resources.
  • Take an in-depth look at employee mental health. The survey found that mental health issues, especially those related to workplace stress, continue to be a major issue at many organizations.
  • Talk to your peers.  Talk to other HR professionals and see what their organizations are doing. Learn what has worked well and what hasn’t.

To view the full survey report and additional wellness resources, please visit ASE’s Wellness Resources page.

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