Survey: Companies Struggling to Meet Workers’ Wellbeing Needs

It’s been said a lot lately: Employee wellbeing should be a critical HR and business-strategy objective. Yet, according to a recent survey of thousands of global workers, it is getting short shrift.

The O.C. Tanner Institute, part of the employee recognition and culture consulting firm, surveyed 3,600 employees from the U.S., Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, India and Singapore and found that a majority of workers are unhappy with what the workplace is doing to them.

Fifty-two percent of employees surveyed, in fact, believe that their employer cares more about productivity and the bottom line than their workforce.  In addition, 38 percent say their situation at work is hurting their happiness in other aspects of their life, and are being negatively affected by their work environment.

When it comes to a negative impact on their physical health, 36 percent say that their heath was at issue due to their workplace. In terms of who is concerned the most, employees were more likely to report negative effects on their physical health if they worked in customer service, at the executive level or self-identified as a millennial.

According to Gary Beckstrand, vice president at O.C. Tanner, it’s not just unhappy employees who are claiming negative physical effects–many of those who are satisfied with their current job and company are claiming they’re “victims” as well. Beckstrand explains that the survey results suggest that an important consideration in a person’s decision to join, engage with and stay with an employer is “Does the organization care about its people?”

“In recent years, HR professionals have primarily focused on physical wellness initiatives such as health screenings, weight loss and nutrition programs,” he adds. “Too often these efforts have been perceived by employees as merely attempts to reduce the company’s insurance premiums and other related health care costs.”

Beckstrand says the study suggests that a better approach would be to expand wellbeing initiatives to also address social and emotional wellbeing, and better focus on the benefits to employees. Also, leaders should find ways to communicate sincere concern for employees, who need to hear and feel that the organization not only cares about their work, but also cares about the person doing the work.

With all the negativity reflected in the survey, Beckstrand says, it’s no wonder that companies are turning to employee wellbeing programs to try and address these issues, noting that strong wellbeing programs involve more than just counting steps and tracking sleep.

“Companies that take care of the whole employee, and not just their physical health,” he says, “will see higher wellbeing in their people and in turn, a positive impact on the bottom line and among workers.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected]