A Guide to Employee Well-Being 

Employee well-being and burnout are popular workplace topics, especially following recent pressures on the economy, industries, companies, and individuals. Well-being has also been named one of the top trends anticipated to impact work in 2024.

And it does seem employees are struggling. A recent Top Workplaces study of more than 240,000 workers revealed that:

  • 38 percent of employees feel overwhelmed at work.
  • 22 percent believe that work interferes with their personal lives.
  • 28 percent often feel anxious or upset because of work.
  • 29 percent say work stress is negatively impacting the rest of their lives.

The looming crisis has the attention of company leaders. According to Top Workplaces research, 68 percent rank employee well-being as a top-three priority. That’s good news because employee well-being plays a role in the key drivers of employee engagement, workplace productivity, and even company performance. 

The same study revealed that company leaders are concerned about the impact of wellness on employee well-being, from mental and emotional to financial and physical wellness. 

Let’s explore employee well-being and wellness, including its importance and benefits, how to measure it, and how to improve well-being as part of your employee engagement strategy. 

What is employee well-being?

Employee well-being is your employees’ overall mental, physical, emotional, and financial health. It involves many factors — some are personal, while the companies control others. Ultimately, it is up to an organization to ensure they are doing what they can to protect employee well-being. Top Workplaces leaders understand its importance and believe a people-centric culture is critical to well-being initiatives. 

Types of employee well-being

Employee well-being goes beyond health and includes several other dimensions of wellness, such as:

  • Social wellness
  • Physical wellness 
  • Financial wellness
  • Emotional wellness 
  • Environmental wellness

These different types of employee well-being depend on and influence each other immensely. Take time to understand each type of wellness and how it could impact your workforce.  

Social wellness

Employees with high levels of social well-being feel more connected and engaged with their work. Factors that impact social well-being include confidence, connection, energy, interpersonal communication, and motivation. Encouraging interdepartmental social events and flexible time off is a great way to boost your employees’ well-being.

Social wellness is always vital to monitor, but it’s especially crucial in today’s environment. The new world of remote and hybrid work makes it especially important to check in with employees about their social wellness. Companies and employees are still learning how to socialize remotely, so be sure to communicate transparently about how things are going.

Physical wellness

Your employees’ physical health and well-being play a significant role in performance and productivity. When employees are healthy and feel great perform their best work. Physical wellness can also reduce the number of sick days employees need to take. 

Well-being initiatives that can boost physical wellness include: 

  • Comprehensive health insurance
  • Gym memberships
  • Nutrition education
  • Physical therapy services

Financial wellness

According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, financial wellness is achieved when individuals can meet their financial obligations while feeling secure about their financial future. Those who are financially well also have the ability to make choices that allow them to enjoy life. 

Examples of financial wellness include: 

  • Being educated about sound financial decisions.
  • Budgeting and limiting spending within one’s means.
  • Being prepared for unexpected financial emergencies. 
  • Planning for future expenses and necessities.

Financial security helps employees feel happier, healthier, and more secure. You can help employees to achieve financial wellness by offering financial planning courses, webinars, and EAP programs. 

Emotional wellness

The National Center For Emotional Wellness defines emotional wellness as “an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of our feelings, and ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.”

Emotional wellness impacts many different areas of an individual’s life, including relationships, work, and school. When employees suffer, they are more likely to experience ill effects, including hypertension, weakened immunity, and concentration issues.

Here’s how you can help employees to improve their emotional wellness:

  • Practicing mindfulness and being present
  • Building relationships and connecting with others
  • Managing and reducing stress levels
  • Encouraging better work-life balance and personal time off

Environmental wellness

Environmental wellness refers to an individual’s sense of safety, comfort, and connection with their surroundings. This includes interactions with others and workplace culture. 

To identify potential issues related to environmental wellness, find opportunities to listen to your employees and take action on their feedback. Creating a healthy, supportive environment with open communication encourages employee well-being, boosting work efficiency and performance.

Why does employee well-being matter?

With employees stretched thin and overloaded at work, a focus on employee well-being is more important than ever. Employee well-being has a direct impact on productivity and performance. It’s also an effective way to prevent employee burnout, which is one of the primary reasons why employees leave

Benefits of employee well-being

Employee well-being is an investment in your company’s future. Leaders who prioritize can also: 

When companies express genuine concern for the well-being of their workforce, individuals are more loyal, motivated, and willing to recommend their workplace to others — and all of these are signs of engaged employees

Obstacles that hinder employee well-being

Many barriers can impact employee well-being and increase workplace burnout. Recent Top Workplaces research identified several challenges affecting employee well-being:

  • Unrealistic work expectations.
  • Staffing and workloads. 
  • Lack of senior leader involvement in well-being efforts.
  • Poor communication. 
  • Inability to measure the effectiveness of well-being initiatives.

How to measure employee well-being

We’ve established the importance of employee well-being. But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. So what can you do to determine the best fit for your organization? A research-backed, confidential employee engagement survey is an effective way to discover what matters most to your employees. 

  • This company enables me to work at my full potential.
  • My manager cares about my concerns.
  • This company encourages different points of view.
  • Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company.
  • This company motivates me to give my very best at work.

Employee survey insights provide valuable intelligence you can use to inform your employee well-being strategy and make people-driven decisions. Your actions resulting from the feedback will ensure that employees feel heard, valued, and appreciated. 

How to improve employee well-being

There are many initiatives to improve employee well-being. The most effective strategies start with listening to employee feedback and concerns. Let’s explore some ways Top Workplaces positively impact employee well-being.

Nurture a people-centric culture

In a recent Top Workplaces study, 58 percent of responders identified a healthy workplace culture as a critical component of successful well-being initiatives. It’s also one of the top nine qualities of a great workplace.

Companies are at risk when the environment is toxic, showing signs of a bad company to work for, from employee turnover and burnout to decreased productivity and lost revenue. 

Manage employee workloads and set realistic expectations

An employee’s workload has a significant impact on well-being. Open communication between employees and managers ensures that people have enough work to feel challenged without feeling overwhelmed. 

Learn more: Qualities of a Good Manager

Incorporate work-life flexibility policies

Companies that encourage work-life flexibility give employees control over how, where, and when they finish their work. It’s about creating an environment that provides employees with options to meet the demands of their personal lives while maintaining high-level work performance. Employees feel more autonomy and trust from employers, which improves their well-being, commitment, engagement — and, ultimately, performance.   

Learn More: What is Workplace Flexibility? and 20 Best Companies for Work-Life Balance & Flexibility in 2022

Clarify and align people’s roles in employee well-being

Employee well-being efforts are most successful when practiced across all levels of the organization. 

  • Leadership:
    • Be an active participant.
    • Advocate for well-being policies.
    • Model work-life flexibility to show it’s a priority.
  • Managers:
    • Discuss employee needs and workload issues.
    • Set realistic deadlines and expectations.
    • Show genuine appreciation and recognition.
  • Employees:
    • Speak up and become a self-advocate.
    • Utilize available resources and take PTO.
    • Actively participate in company social events.

Offer wellness resources

As we discussed earlier, several types of wellness contribute to employee well-being. Review feedback to determine what services or offerings are most important to employees. 

Focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion

Companies that promote DE&I efforts prioritize a welcoming and safe environment for all. Top Workplaces recognize this and consider employee well-being part of their strategy.

Read More: How to Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Designing an employee well-being program

Effective employee well-being programs are iterative and include lots of trial and error. That’s because it takes time to learn what works for your employees — and what doesn’t. Here are the basic steps: 

  1. Survey employees to determine the current state of employee well-being.
  2. Use survey insights to inform well-being programs and make decisions.
  3. Identify the resources you need to implement a well-rounded, successful strategy.
  4. Assemble a cross-functional team focused on employee well-being. 
  5. Communicate across the organization about well-being initiatives.
  6. Measure the effectiveness of your well-being efforts.
  7. Make improvements based on results.
  8. Repeat!

Read More: 30 Strategies to Improve Employee Well-Being

Improve well-being in your organization with Top Workplaces

Take the first step toward improving employee well-being in your organization. The Top Workplaces employee engagement survey provides unparalleled insights into company culture and the employee experience.

Participation qualifies your company for the Top Workplaces for Employee Well-Being award and all other Top Workplaces awards. In addition to valuable employer recognition, Top Workplaces helps your company understand its strengths, celebrate success, and attract top talent.

Does your company believe in the value of employee well-being? Get recognized for it! Nominate your organization for Top Workplaces, the employer recognition program that offers awards in 60+ regional markets and national awards for culture and industry excellence.


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