Why Employee Well-Being is the New Competitive Advantage

by | Nov 7, 2023 | Mental Health

At one time, a competitive salary was the cornerstone of a lucrative job offer, but today, the focus has shifted towards creating a holistic work environment that nourishes not just the bank account but also the soul. Organizations failing to address employee well-being risk not only their efficiency but also their attractiveness as employers.


While the consequences might not be immediately visible, the damage compounds over time, affecting productivity, morale, and overall organizational health. Elevated stress levels, increased absenteeism, high turnover, and reduced productivity are just some of the negative outcomes of ignoring the well-being of your staff. And as if that’s not enough, an organization that doesn’t prioritize employee well-being also risks its reputation, making it less attractive to potential top-tier talent.


The Four Pillars of Employee Well-Being

A comprehensive understanding of employee well-being is built on four foundational pillars: Financial Situation, Work-Life Balance, Mental Health, and Physical Health. Each of these elements plays a unique role in shaping the overall well-being of an employee, affecting not just the individual but also the team and organization they are part of.


Financial Situation: Financial well-being extends beyond the realm of salary and includes factors like financial literacy, debt management, and retirement planning. A stable financial situation can drastically reduce stress and improve overall life satisfaction, empowering employees to be more focused and effective at work.


Work-Life Balance: Striking the right balance between professional responsibilities and personal life is crucial for mental and physical health. Employers can promote a healthy work-life balance through flexible scheduling, remote working options, and a respectful culture that values employees’ time outside of work.


Mental Health: Employers can support their employees by equipping managers with mental health training to recognize and adequately address mental health issues among team members. Additionally, employers can further support their staff by providing access to counselling services, implementing mental health days, and creating an environment free from mental health stigma.


Physical Health: A healthy body can often lead to a healthy mind. Physical health in the workplace can be promoted through ergonomic furniture and computer peripherals, regular physical activity breaks, and healthcare packages that cover various aspects of physical well-being.


The Undeniable Link Between Stress and Absenteeism

One of the glaring indicators of the stress that work can exert on individuals is the rate of absenteeism due to mental health. According to Statistics Canada, 7.5% of employed individuals had to take time off from work because of stress or mental health issues in the past year, translating to an average of 2.4 days lost per employee. This is not just a matter of individual well-being but a significant economic concern for any organization.


Talent Attraction and Retention: The Hidden Costs of Neglecting Well-Being

The ability to attract and retain top talent is a top issue for many companies. Employees are more empowered than ever, with the ability to switch jobs if their current role doesn’t align with their needs and aspirations. What’s alarming is that the neglect of employee well-being could be a significant reason for high turnover rates. Overworked employees struggling with mental health are not likely to stay in an environment that exacerbates these issues. They will naturally look for opportunities that offer a better work-life balance and mental health resources, leading to a turnover of key talent that companies cannot afford.


The Call for Proactivity in Mental Health Support

87% of HR leaders believe that proactive mental health support can prevent these issues or at least mitigate their impact. Yet, there is a gaping disconnect between awareness and action. Nearly half of HR leaders admit that their benefits programs don’t include mental health support. In addition, more than a quarter believe their mental health support is insufficient.


The Effects of Remote Work

The pandemic-triggered shift towards remote work has been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has improved work-life balance for most, but on the other hand, it has caused a spike in physical health issues related to poor home office setups. Around 43% of Canadians report experiencing physical pain due to their work environment at home. In turn, these physical health issues have been linked to increased stress, anxiety, and productivity issues, further underscoring the complexity of employee well-being in a remote work setting.


Strategies for Elevating Employee Well-Being

Demonstrating Investment in Employees: Nothing can replace the emotional satisfaction employees derive from feeling valued. Organizations can create this environment by aligning their values and missions with activities that nourish both the mind and the body.


Shared Purpose Through Group Activities: Whether it’s through team fitness challenges or collective participation in community service, fostering a sense of shared purpose can greatly enhance employee well-being.


Incorporating Medical Expertise: An internal medical board could provide invaluable insights into shaping employee wellness programs that are both effective and relatable to the staff.


Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture: Ultimately, the culture of an organization dictates the mental atmosphere. A culture that radiates positivity, inclusivity, and support not only enhances employee well-being but also contributes to talent attraction and retention.

  • Physical Health Initiatives: Consider ergonomic furniture, fitness challenges, or subsidizing gym memberships.
  • Offer Financial Literacy Programs: Empower your employees to manage their finances better.
  • Flexible Working Arrangements: Help employees maintain a better work-life balance.
  • Mental Health Resources: Provide access to counselling and stress management resources.

Employee well-being goes far beyond just the provision of healthcare benefits or a decent salary. It is an ongoing process that demands regular attention, intervention, and refinement. As statistics show, 45% of HR leaders find it difficult to ensure that employees fully utilize their available benefit plans. This highlights the need for a more holistic, integrated approach to employee well-being. But it’s not enough to simply talk about the importance of well-being or to provide resources; organizations must also take steps to ensure those resources are both accessible and utilized. This means creating an environment where employees feel comfortable taking advantage of the support they may need, be it for mental health, financial planning, or work-life balance. Otherwise, even the most robust well-being programs risk becoming mere window dressing. Ultimately, making employee well-being a priority is not just an act of altruism; it’s a crucial strategy for both business success and employee efficacy. It is high time for organizations to fully embrace the imperatives of modern employment and invest wisely in their employee well-being.

Are you interested in a proactive approach to improve your employees’ well-being? Contact us at [email protected] or call 416.788.8069 to discuss how we can custom tailor an employee well-being strategy for your organization.