The COVID-19 pandemic brought concerns about health to the forefront for everyone. Business leaders responded quickly by sending their employees home to work. For essential workers whose jobs required their continued presence in factories, plants, or other facilities, safety measures were put in place to afford as much protection as possible.
Employers hurried to prioritize the mental health of their workforces, too, instituting new practices to keep people connected and offer emotional support in the suddenly virtual work world.
Virus variants—Delta and others—are keeping health threats top of mind for organizational and talent leaders everywhere, even as some companies are asking employees who have worked remotely for a year or more to think of returning (at least some of the time) to corporate workplaces.
Whatever work model, or models, (onsite, remote, or a hybrid combination of the two) business leaders choose as they look toward a still-evolving new normal, it is clear that the regard shown for workers’ well-being will be a crucial aspect of the employee experience—and a vital element in companies’ ability to attract, engage, and retain top talent. That makes a clear grasp of workforce well-being a necessity for HR and other talent professionals.
Why HR? Research from Deloitte confirms that “HR is most often cited as the party responsible for well-being” in organizations. In fact, 35% of respondents to the firm’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Survey said HR had primary responsibility for well-being in their organizations, trailed by front-line managers (22%), functional and department leads (18%), the C-suite (14%), and individual employees (11%).
Has Your Organization Made the Shift from Wellness to Well-being?
Traditionally, businesses have focused on the idea of employee wellness, providing programs and benefits that support physical and mental health to build workforces of stronger, healthier employees who are more likely to show up for work consistently, call in sick less frequently, and be able to perform productively and contribute at their best levels.
True holistic, or whole-person, well-being includes physical and mental health, but organizations add other elements to the mix to address the broader aspects of human life that factor into overall well-being. Those elements often vary from one company to the next.
Perhaps the best-known definition comes from Gallup, long a leader in researching and writing about holistic well-being. It’s five-element model includes: