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European companies are focusing primarily on employee wellbeing to become an employer of choice. ‘To succeed, a holistic approach is essential,’ says Lorenzo Andolfi, HR Research & Intelligence at SD Worx. ‘And that means targeting the 7 pillars of wellbeing.’
The increased attention for employee well-being is no coincidence. Workers are under an enormous amount of stress. Social relations have been disrupted by new working models, the digitalisation is gaining momentum and job security is no longer a given. On top of that, structural talent shortage is leading to heavier workloads in many sectors. More work must be done by fewer people – something both employees and employers agree on.”
“This situation is not sustainable as it poses great health risks. Over 60% of employees say their work is mentally taxing, and overworked employees are also more prone to make mistakes, which is dangerous in some environments.
To avoid losing talent, a costly outcome in a tight labour market, nearly all companies have implemented programmes for resilience, physical well-being, mental health or stress reduction. Examples include free gym subscriptions, yoga courses and extra vacation. But is it enough? The short answer: no. At least not if you ask the employees who’re supposedly bouncing back because of these efforts. A minority say their employer is taking enough action to optimise their health and well-being hardly an encouraging result. The problem might well be that employers still haven’t developed a comprehensive well-being strategy.
Rather than simply looking at individuals through a health-centric lens, it has become clear that well-being is an entire organisational system. And that system consists of 6 pillars according to HR guru Josh Bersin, each of which contributes in different ways: physical well-being, mental well-being, financial well-being, social well-being, cultural well-being and a safe workplace. These should all be supported by easy-to-access well-being tools and services – the 7th pillar.
Some of these pillars might come across as far-fetched. But we know, for example, that employee engagement is heavily linked to trust, career growth and belonging. And it’s also true that people who are underpaid or poorly managed are less committed to their organisation. Ask yourself: aren’t these elements part of being a healthy organisation too?
The first step towards a healthy organisation is all about acquiring the right mindset: see workers as people, not people as workers. Even more, see them as unique, talented people with a whole live outside your company. Key actions include personalising benefits, organising health screenings, training leadership to recognise burnout, shaping sustainable careers and creating a psychologically safe workplace.
Once your organisation has achieved a more holistic well-being strategy, it may seem the job is done. But the next step is to build health into the work itself. This is when you focus on things like workload, autonomy, learning and recognition. The last step is to establish an on-going well-being strategy. The goal: healthy workers, healthy work and a healthy organisation.
The importance of setting up a comprehensive well-being strategy can’t be stressed enough. Most of the top 10 reasons for employees to be committed to an organisation can directly be linked to the 7 pillars of well-being. In that respect, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of experts expect well-being to become the newest metric that companies use to understand their employees. For years, HR has experimented with different metrics, including employee satisfaction and engagement, but chances are that we’ll all soon be measuring employee health in the broad sense of the word.