Number of the day: employee wellbeing

More than a year later, employee wellbeing hasn’t rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Here’s what that means for HR leaders.
By: | June 22, 2021

Fewer than half of employees say they feel positive about their overall wellbeing, according to new research from Alight Solutions and the Business Group on Health. The 2021 Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study examined 2,501 U.S. employees’ perceptions of wellbeing across key wellbeing areas—including physical, mental/emotional, financial, social and career—revealing that perceptions across all five areas have declined during the pandemic.

What it means to HR leaders

It’s no secret that the pandemic has had a negative impact on employees’ overall wellbeing: Scores of research have found that COVID-19 has resulted in a sharp decline in employees’ mental health, as well as other aspects of their wellbeing.

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Although Alight’s survey finds that perceptions across all five areas have declined, employers and HR leaders have a strong opportunity to drive impact, experts say. “Wellbeing and work experiences are inexorably linked, and there’s never been a better time for employers to provide personalized guidance and resources to their employees,” says Laine Thomas Conway, vice president of communication strategy and total rewards product manager at Alight.

Some of the ways that employers can help improve employees’ wellbeing? Helping them take charge of their finances—such as providing tools and resources to employees at the point of need, whether it’s building an investment portfolio, paying down debt or saving for specific life stages; taking action to influence healthy lifestyles; and creating a flexible and empathetic workplace. With burnout on the rise, employers should offer and promote employee assistance programs, time off, tutoring assistance, caregiving services and more. As with the other dimensions of wellbeing, it’s incumbent upon the employer to understand the needs of their workforce and determine which offerings could alleviate these pressures, Conway says.

“The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities around employee wellbeing and where they can find support,” she says. “Now it’s up to employers to assess the needs of their workforce and experiment with fresh ways to help them achieve their wellbeing priorities.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s 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. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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