Why is wellbeing so important?
The concept of wellbeing is not one that is new, however it’s certainly one that is more at the forefront of individuals and organisations minds. There is growing recognition of the importance of individual wellbeing inside and outside the workplace. With growing pressures on people from technology to economics, competition and politics, our current workforce is now looking to their employers to assist them in their overall wellness and engagement.
Work-life balance and wellness in the workplace and at home is increasingly important in today’s job market, but one group that it is especially crucial to is millennials. According to Gallup 2016 *1 nearly six in ten members of the millennial generation (57%) say that work-life balance and well-being in a job are “very important” to them. Taking into consideration that by 2020, 50% of the Global Workforce will be Millennials, *2 this is topic that cannot be ignored.
Cost to organisations of lack of wellbeing
Wellness programs have often been viewed as a nice extra and not necessarily a strategic imperative. However, the Irish College of General Practitioners *3 have said that in Ireland, the annual cost of mental health problems to the Irish economy exceeds €3 billion. Rand Europe *4 in a survey done on Britain’s healthiest workplace state that poor health and wellbeing is costing the UK economy up to £57 billion a year in lost productivity via absenteeism, employees not being at work and presenteeism, employees being at work but working at a suboptimal level.
The Global Wellness Institute in a paper on The Future of Wellness at Work 2016 *5 says that only 9% of the Global Workforce has access to some form of wellness program at work. Couple that with their figures that Worldwide, the cost of unwell workers represents 10-15% of global economic output, this makes for worrying statistics and ones that organisations can’t afford to ignore.
Wellbeing and technology
Those in your organisation who were born in the 80’s and 90’s are the first digital natives. Regardless of the labels used to describe this generation, it’s a fact that they are the first generation to have grown up with the internet and smartphones in an always-on digital world. In fact, when asked what makes their generation unique, Millennials ranked ‘technology use’ first in a survey by Nielson. *6
Accessibility to wellness and engagement programs online is a vital part of meeting two major millennial expectations; wellness and technology. However, it’s not just Millennials who are focussed in an online world. Deloitte in 2016 released their Mobile Consumer Survey *7 which analyses the mobile usage habits of more than 1,000 Irish consumers aged 18-75. The research reveals that the smartphone is the primary device for Irish consumers with 86% owning or having access to a smartphone, compared with laptops (80%) and tablets (60%).
When looking at Return on Investment for wellness programs, it’s important that productivity, employee satisfaction and engagement, operational performance and worker loyalty are all being viewed as part of the value of the program. Ethically and strategically it makes sense to invest in helping employees perform at their best. Organisations and their employees are reaping the benefits of linking wellbeing, productivity and engagement as part of an overarching wellbeing approach. You just have to look at the winners list of Great Places to Work *8 and correspond their wellness and engagement offerings to see how and why they get ranked.
It is however vital to manage wellbeing in the context of your organisation. No one group likes to be labelled *9 and not everyone in an organisation (even ones with extremely clear cultures) want the same things. Creating a strong and meaningful Employee Value Proposition will enhance your capability to attract and retain great talent. Look to manage the expectations of the people in your business and listen to the requirements of all levels in your organisation to enhance overall engagement.
Author – Jessica Lee; Organisational Psychologist and Owner & Director of Jessica Lee Consulting