Why now isn’t the time to postpone employee wellbeing

A quick summary:

  • How a pandemic transformed workplace wellbeing 🚀
  • Why a recession poses a 'sink or swim' moment for leaders ⛔️
  • How businesses can benefit from investing in employee wellbeing ✅
  • Why leaders must act NOW 🚨

While employee wellbeing has always been important, it’s only in the past few years that businesses have begun to take it seriously. Not just to create a healthier, happier workforce, but for a more successful business.

In this guide, we’re looking at precisely why companies cannot postpone employee wellbeing any longer. From challenges to consequences, we’ve left nothing out for leaders.

How a global pandemic revolutionised employee wellbeing

We couldn’t start this without first addressing the impact of COVID-19. In a pre-pandemic world, workplace wellbeing took a back seat. It was something to think about; a conversation to be had.

Fast forward to the modern day, and it’s become a leverage point. Brands around the world are now using workplace wellbeing to attract and retain top talent. It only takes one skim of LinkedIn’s job platform to see this.

The likes of flexible working, impressive parental leave, wellbeing budgets and duvet days are all in abundance. It’s initiatives like this that are driving a more engaged workforce — a more productive workforce.

A question we always ask ourselves at Heka is “what do people want from their workplace?”. It allows us to explore new areas of health and wellbeing that some employers just wouldn’t think of.

Two employees working in an office
How a global pandemic influenced employee wellbeing

At the height of the pandemic, mental health experienced its own crisis. According to the UK government, mental health and wellbeing experienced cyclical deterioration from March to May 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

During the pandemic and since then, mental health support has improved throughout a large percentage of companies. In fact, one study reported that 36% of companies said it had improved since the start of COVID-19.

All in all, the pandemic did play a role in heightening the demand and abolishing the stigmas around mental health in the workplace.

There’s a much bigger urgency to support employees than ever. In fact, a survey of Heka members at the start of 2023 revealed that 97% of employees said they need mental and physical wellbeing support more than ever. And companies that choose to ignore this need are now falling behind.

Now, whilst the pandemic encouraged better health and wellbeing at work, it hasn’t been the only driving force — let’s fast-forward to the present.

Why a recession is a ‘sink or swim’ moment for businesses

In the past several months, the UK economy has taken a drastic downturn. People are facing some of the biggest challenges, such as the eat or heat crisis.

With everything from household goods to everyday groceries skyrocketing in price, employers are having to step up their support. But what some people overlook is just who a recession affects. And that answer is everyone, including businesses.

Now, although many employees are hoping for a pay increase, health and wellbeing initiatives could be the solution. This is a topic we’ve explored in much more depth, but for now, let’s keep it short.

Through platforms like Heka, employees are able to maintain their lifestyles. Take gym memberships for example — a huge deal in the UK you might be surprised to hear.

It was reported by PureGym that around 14% of people in the UK have a gym membership. This figure could also jump drastically to more than 19% in 2023.

It’s safe to say that health and wellbeing lifestyles are on the rise. Because of this, incentives that support these activities are a very powerful option. Employers have a great chance to offer some of the following health and wellbeing benefits:

  • Subsidised gym memberships
  • Life coaching and mental health counselling
  • Holistic wellbeing experiences
  • Fitness equipment
  • Nutritional snack boxes
  • Physiotherapy and massages
  • Sleep support
  • Fertility and family support
Two employees laughing outside
Why a recession poses a threat to employee wellbeing

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it demonstrates the various ways an employer can support their employees’ lifestyles. But that’s not all. As the recession shows no sign of slowing down, people are having to manage their finances better.

Leadership teams should invest in better financial wellbeing support. This means looking at ways to pay down tuition fees, host 1-2-1 finance sessions and hire public speakers to educate your team.

Remember: the demographics of your workforce are likely diverse. People have different hurdles and challenges when it comes to their financial wellbeing. Some may be approaching retirement; others looking to buy their first home.

It’s worth noting that through Heka, we provide access to financial coaching partners, giving employees better control over their personal finances — and helping employers offer relevant and meaningful benefits.

Similar read: Why leaders must take corporate wellbeing seriously

The advantages of taking employee wellbeing seriously

Before we conclude on why leaders must act now, let’s discuss the benefits of taking wellbeing seriously in the workplace. What does it really mean for a business?

Firstly, when people are happier, they are at their best. Productivity rises and with it, performance and output are likely to increase.

In addition to this, higher levels of workplace wellbeing can lead to fewer sick days. If employers want to reduce absence, workplace wellbeing is the solution.

Better wellbeing perks lead to higher engagement from employees too. It’s this engagement with our duties, our colleagues and the workplace in general that boosts employee output.

And believe it or not, companies in the United Kingdom reported an average engagement rate of just 45% — considerably lower than France at 54%, the USA at 60% and 56% for Australia.

Finally, when it comes to our collaborative skills — our ability to work in harmony with our colleagues — a healthy outlook on life can benefit our relationships with others.

And as Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

As you can see, the benefits of investing in workplace wellbeing can be phenomenal. Unfortunately, so many leaders view health and wellbeing as a one-way opportunity. It’s far from it.

a woman smiling outside
Why leaders must act NOW to improve wellbeing at work

Why leaders must act now for better wellbeing at work

Whilst many companies are adapting to the rapidly changing landscape of wellbeing at work. Some aren’t. Whilst some leaders are tackling incoming hurdles like the cost of living crisis, others are oblivious.

If we can leave you with one piece of wisdom, it’s to start investing in your team’s health and happiness. The war for talent and the Great Resignation were warning signs of a turning tide.

It was the last chance for leaders to lean into creating healthier and happier workplaces before it was too late.

And although that time may have come (you might have lost some crucial talent in the past twelve months) there’s no better moment than the present to get started with wellbeing at work.

There will inevitably be new people management challenges on the horizon for HR teams to counter. Building the foundations of a healthier, happier workforce before they appear is key.

Ready to level up your workplace wellbeing? Get in touch and speak with one of our experts! We’re more than happy to walk you through our platform, the thousands of experiences available and the benefits it has on your company.

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