Employee well-being is an important aspect that organizations must keep in mind when designing the workspace. Research suggests that the working conditions, which include the design of the tasks, management style, interpersonal relationships, work role, career concerns, and safety, all significantly impact employee mental health and overall well-being. Further, employees form the crux of an organization. When employee well-being is impacted, organizational health suffers too. Studies have found that when the employees are burnt out, employee engagement and productivity deteriorate, along with high turnover rates.
Before we explore strategies to improve well-being, it is important to understand the concept.
What is Employee Well-Being?
Health and well-being are often difficult concepts to define and measure. At the same time, it is important for organizations to understand them so as to outline their scope of work and design effective employee benefits solutions. In their seminal work, Waddell and Burton (2006) defined well-being as “the subjective state of being healthy, happy, contented, comfortable and satisfied with one’s quality of life.
It includes physical, material, social, emotional (‘happiness’), and development & activity dimensions.” Adapting this to the workplace, Juniper (2011) defined employee well-being as “that part of an employee’s overall well-being that they perceive to be determined by work and can be influenced by workplace interventions.” It is also important to acknowledge that the workplace often has a more direct impact on employee mental health which in turn impacts physical and social well-being. Consequently, the focus of this article will be on the psychological well-being of employees.
Strategies to Improve Employee Well-Being
Improved employee well-being has been linked to improved job performance, consequently contributing to the growth of organizations. Cognizant of the benefits it holds for the organization as well, many organizations are now turning towards ensuring employee well-being. The good news is that there are very effective workspace redesigning strategies and even digital mental health solutions such that employee well-being is cared for. Organizations are also reaching out to corporate wellness companies to implement employee benefits solutions. Some strategies include:
Giving employees control over their work
The degree of control over work has an important impact on employee mental health. As defined by Johnson, Robertson and Cooper (2018) It refers to the extent to which employees feel they have control and autonomy over the manner in which they carry out the work, such as their involvement in decision-making and seeking suggestions. Lack of control is often associated with poor self-rated health, while perceived individual control has consistently been linked with improved performance and well-being. Even small shifts in employee autonomy can significantly improve employee mental health.
Social support within the organization
Social support has long been identified as an important buffer in terms of reducing the impact of stress. Similarly in terms of employee mental health in the workplace, having adequate support within the organization from peers and management allows employees to navigate through work stress more efficiently. Employees do need to rely on the support and help of colleagues to solve concerns.
Similarly, supervisory support is necessary to navigate through managerial challenges and to feel supported by the organization. When workplace social support is low, research has consistently indicated higher distress. Conversely, adequate social support has been identified as a protective factor against psychological distress. It also opens up an avenue for colleagues and supervisors to connect with each other, fostering a sense of comfort and belonging. Some employee wellness solutions include peer buddy systems for support, hosting weekly or monthly informal meets (in-person or virtually) and organizing recreational activities with the team which can be helpful in improving social support.
Providing flexibility to employees
Flexibility around work has become particularly important in recent years. In essence, the flexible working practice focuses on giving employees flexibility around when they work, where they work, or both. Some employee wellness solutions would include allowing employees to work from home, taking time off when needed, and changing one’s work schedule.
It could even be smaller shifts like allowing employees to decide their starting and stopping times. Doing this allows employees to engage with life outside work and maintain a healthy work-life balance. A recent study has also shown how various forms of flexibility are closely related to lower job stress, higher job satisfaction, and improved employee mental health.
Stability and consistent scheduling of work
Unpredictability at the workspace makes it difficult for employees to anticipate a day’s tasks, and schedule the day accordingly. It is also associated with a perceived lack of control at work and substantially adds to an employee’s daily psychological workload.
Research has indicated that work unpredictability is in fact a contemporary occupational stressors that adversely impacts employee mental health. Being cognizant of this, organizations can take introduce well solutions to ensure consistency and provide deadlines with enough notice. Not only does this contribute to improved employee well-being, it also plays an important role in enhancing productivity.
Demands of job role
The impact of workplace demands on employee mental health makes intuitive sense. When employees are burdened with excessive demands, their mental health deteriorates. At the same time, very low demand is also unhelpful – the employees’ sense of usefulness and worth is challenged. It is important for organizations to outline demands such that they are challenging enough without burdening the employee. An important aspect of this is also ensuring sufficient staff so that employees are not overburdened and overworked.
Sense of purpose and meaning
Employee mental health is influenced by the sense of purpose and meaning they drive from the tasks at work. The purpose can be altruistic and focused on helping others, or more focused on self and improving their own station. It is important for organizations to attach meaningfulness to the tasks assigned to employees, to acknowledge their role in the overall growth of the organization and to accommodate for suggestions given by employees. Employee benefits solutions will not be effective unless the larger feelings of purpose and meaning are also attended to.
Invest in digital mental health solutions
The ubiquity of digital devices means that corporate wellness programs have now shifted to virtual platforms and digital mental health solutions are here to stay. Digital mental health solutions can offer therapeutic services on a large scale and are accessible remotely from anywhere.
They also allow the employees of the agency to modulate the pace with which progress through therapy and positive behavioral techniques. While this is a fairly recent shift, its effectiveness has been established. In one instance, a simple mindfulness meditation app provided by the organization to the employees improved outcomes related to work stress and well-being. Particularly now, when working from home is dominant and sometimes even essential, digital mental health solutions hold incredible potential and are a worthy investment.
Increasingly, organizations are keen to implement employee benefits solutions in their workplace. Harvard and MIT have in fact commenced the “Work and Well-being Initiative” reflective of the importance of this shift. Corporate wellness companies are also growing and focusing on employee benefits solutions, which benefit not only the employees but also the organization.
Wysa is amongst the most prominent corporate wellness companies offering organizations the support and assistance needed to navigate through this challenge. Wysa provides effective digital mental health solutions and can be a great investment for your organization. You can check out the services provided by Wysa by visiting us