COVID-19 puts spotlight on wellbeing efforts

For the last few years, data has shown that addressing employee wellbeing in the workplace made good business sense–and helped employees in the process. But with COVID-19 in the picture, the reasons for focusing on wellbeing are greater than ever.

“There are a lot of compelling business reasons for organizations to make commitments to workplace wellbeing,” Carol Morrison, senior research analyst at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), said during a recent webinar hosted by Human Resource Executive®. “We don’t need to look any further than what the last few months have shown us as to why it’s important for companies to make those commitments.”

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A number of issues plague workers’ wellbeing: Always-on technologies fuel 24/7 work expectations and high levels of employee burnout and stress. Issues like obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, anxiety and depression are on the rise. Nearly half of Americans don’t have any savings. Many employees feel lonely and disconnected.

But the pandemic is compounding all those issues, making it all the more imperative to address all components of wellbeing, Morrison said. Those components include six core topics: physical, emotional/mental, community, career, financial and social/relational.

Listen to the webinar replay here.

And in addition to helping employees, wellness efforts make a big impact on employers, too.

According to i4cp research conducted before the pandemic, 86% of large organizations have some kind of wellbeing program in place. But high-performing organizations are more likely to emphasize all six elements of wellbeing. The whole-person approach is strongly correlated to better market performance, better talent retention, increased workplace productivity and higher levels of workforce wellbeing, she said.

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Related: Strategies to manage coronavirus in the workplace

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.