Show that you care about employee well-being

Story Highlights

  • Only 24% of workers strongly agree that well-being is taken care of by the employer
  • Retention, burnout, and brand promotion are linked to this employee sentiment
  • Leaders: Show employees you care in 10 actionable steps

After hitting record highs at the start of the pandemic, the percentage of American workers who think their organization cares about their overall well-being has plunged to pre-COVID levels and is characterized by declines across all job types. .

Today, only 24% of workers strongly agree that their organization cares about their well-being – which should be a big concern for leaders given that these employees are 69% less likely than all other workers to look for a new job, 71% less likely to report suffering from burnout and five times more likely to defend their organization.

“My organization cares about my overall wellbeing” is part of the Culture of Wellbeing Index, available on the online workplace survey and learning platform Gallup Access. This element is an excellent indicator for assessing the extent to which well-being is integrated into a company, seen through the eyes of the people who work there.

Gallup defines well-being through the five essential elements:

  • Professional well-being: You love what you do every day.
  • Social well-being: You have meaningful friendships in your life.
  • Financial well-being: You manage your money well.
  • Physical well-being: You have energy to get things done.
  • Community well-being: You like where you live.

Top 10 Ways to Improve “My Organization Cares About My Overall Well-Being”

Leaders can implement concrete steps to ensure that employees feel their well-being is taken care of, thus taking better advantage of this mindset. Based on Gallup research, below are 10 high-impact ideas for advancing this critical belief system in the workplace.

  1. Promote, destigmatize and “exclude” company EAP programs. Globally, negative emotional experiences hit an all-time high in 2020, followed by reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 41.5% of American adults suffered from anxiety or depression in early 2021. , are increasing in the United States, most sharply for white adults with a high school diploma or less.

    In the face of these discouraging statistics, leaders must reach a new level of promoting and encouraging the use of employee assistance programs (EAPs) and eliminating the stigma that some associate with them. About 30% of American workers don’t know how to access their company’s EAP. So the first step is to make sure they do this through continuous promotion.

    The second step is to vigorously ensure complete confidentiality. The third step is to automatically pre-enroll all employees in the program, eliminating the need to perform administrative tasks to use the service. Each of these communications should come from the General Managers to maximize visibility and drive home the importance of the points.

  2. Include family members in wellness programs and activities. Commitment to the well-being of an employee’s family members is also a key driver of feeling that their employer cares about their well-being. From financial health and retirement planning to community involvement from 5k runs to social gatherings, encouraging the participation of family members will greatly reinforce the feeling that the employee’s well-being is taken care of and , in turn, will also improve the well-being of family members. The next level is the outright incitement of their involvement.

  3. Provide easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the workplace. A strong link to “my organization cares about my overall well-being” is maintaining a workplace where healthy food is consistently easy to find. Eating fruits and vegetables is widely considered a healthy choice and is associated with both low obesity and low smoking rates – and companies can take advantage of this by making them readily available.

    Offering a free choice of fruits or vegetables with every meal purchased at work is a good strategy. Even better, a produce cart walking through the workplace each morning, bringing healthy choices directly to workers and ensuring a serving of fruits and vegetables every day for anyone who wants one. Bonus Action: Remove candy bars and junk food from vending machines and replace with protein bars and low refined sugar snacks.

  4. Offer help employees manage their finances. Almost everyone is going to retire one day. Many people need to save for their children’s college, and many may need help setting up a family budget. Providing free counseling services that support the financial well-being of employees is a major factor in improving the feeling that they care about their well-being and can also serve as a way to eliminate external anxiety and stress that distract them from work performance. Don’t forget to encourage other important people to join as well.

  5. Encourage employees to share their own ideas on improving well-being. Asking employees to contribute wellness ideas for workplace intervention programs is a great way to galvanize the workforce and make them feel part of a movement to broader well-being. The more employees contribute to the organization’s well-being efforts, the more they will feel their opinions matter and the greater their buy-in and likelihood to participate – critical aspects of feeling that their own well-being is taken care of.

  6. Recognize employees for their wellness achievements. Routine recognition is a critically important psychological need in the workplace and is a proven driver of an array of business outcomes. Embedding it into an organization’s wellness culture will inspire employees to pursue choices that promote high wellness and reinforce that their company cares about those goals.

  7. Help employees find safe places to exercise, and encourage them to do so. Not all organizations can provide employees with a place to exercise at work. Especially for those who cannot, identify reputable and safe fitness centers in the area where discounted group rates can be negotiated for employees. And then offer a monthly or quarterly partial refund to employees in exchange for proof that they used the facility.

  8. Offer healthy cooking classes for all the employeesfree of charge. This one is self-explanatory, but it’s also worth noting that cooking classes are also the perfect environment for imparting scientific knowledge about nutrition and health literacy. This has the added benefit of providing employees with opportunities to learn new and interesting things, a key vanguard of high-wellness people and communities.

  9. Make wellness part of the annual goalsetting. Ask employees to submit their interests and wellness goals to their managers, then monitor what they are actively pursuing and ask how they are progressing towards their goals. This feedback mechanism will greatly improve the feeling that employees care about their well-being while simultaneously reinforcing a culture of well-being in the workplace.

  10. Create a business sharing network to socialize good wellness practices. Pre-assign individuals to different groups or teams in the workplace. Have quarterly meetings over lunch where each person shares something about their personal well-being that is important to them but that they think others might not know or something new they learned about the well-being that could be useful to others.

    Include important tips such as useful apps, books read, or courses taken. It can create a wellness social network where it did not exist before and provide an opportunity for new thinking about wellness activities. And the fact that it is sponsored by the company shows that the organization cares about the well-being of its employees. Bonus tip: Previous research has shown that running cards and healthy restaurant menu options are the best apps for improving physical and social well-being at the same time.

The essential

The initial wave of COVID-19 and the associated economic shutdown were characterized by large-scale transitions from working from home among employees who could, which were accompanied by unprecedented spikes in workers’ views that employers cared about their welfare.

As vaccinations have become widespread and the pandemic recedes, its likely conversion to endemicity now fits with employers increasingly moving their workers out of home offices and into the workplace. Estimates of empty desks exceed one-third of workers in the post-pandemic economy, and employees with the ability to work remotely are widely expecting a hybrid office environment in the future.

Amid all of these shifting realities, employers are back to where they started in 2019 when it comes to workers’ views on the importance of their well-being. In response, employers must now look to protracted strategies to improve these prospects, beyond short-term remote work actions to protect the health of their workers.

It is only through specific and sustained actions that employers can reinvent their culture to build a productive, healthy and well-being-conscious workforce.

Boost retention and reduce burnout by making wellness a priority:

  • Partner with Gallup to create a workplace that helps employees live fulfilling lives.
  • Lily Well being at work for best management practices and leadership insights on building a high wellness culture.


Dan Witters is research director of the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index.

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