Wellness Coaching Initiative
The GWI Workplace Wellness Initiative trends forecast shows that wellness at work is much more than offering physical programs. Today, mental wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion, remote workers and financial wellbeing must all be considered.
TREND 1: Holistic wellbeing
Most large organizations have physical wellness programs and recent years have shown a shift toward prevention rather than correction. However, most of these programs do not take mental health and social relationships — important influencers of physical health — into account. In addition, physical wellness fails to capture the broader dimensions of overall well-being: social, financial, career and community well-being.
Many organizations have adopted fewer hours or offered more flexibility to improve employee wellbeing, such as allowing staff to work from home. Yet, Gallup Research from March 2022 (Harter, 2022) found that fewer than one in four US employees felt strongly that their employer cared about their wellbeing — the lowest percentage in nearly a decade. The consequences include lower engagement, higher burnout, and more employees looking for new job opportunities elsewhere. In contrast, Gallup’s research found that teams who feel their organization cares about their wellbeing achieve higher customer engagement, profitability, and productivity, lower turnover and fewer safety incidents.
TREND 2: Decline in mental wellbeing
The pandemic accentuated pre-existing issues with mental health and wellbeing in all areas of society. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the decline in mental or emotional wellness costs US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity (WHO, 2022). Today, best practices include having mental health first aiders on-site for employees experiencing mental health challenges and seeking immediate support.
Workplace health and wellbeing solutions are focusing on resilience training, virtual mental health services, mindfulness apps, and other positive coping mechanisms to mitigate stress and prevent burnout.
TREND 3: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
One of the most significant threats to workplace wellbeing regarding diversity, equity and inclusion is the strain put on employees who feel they need to be on guard to protect themselves from bias and discrimination. Creating a sense of belonging is paramount to fulfilling DEI initiatives.
As our global workplaces become more diverse, leaders and managers need to create safe, equitable, and inclusive environments. Macro-level global issues, such as the impacts of COVID-19 or climate change, affect people differently, largely due to existing inequities. The challenge is knowing how to root DEI initiatives in the workplace in ways that are sustainable and impactful with this larger view (Krause, 2022).
DEI initiatives also concern age because, for the first time in history, today’s workforce is composed of five different generations: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. A one-size-fits-all approach will not achieve workplace wellbeing because each generation has its own values and priorities which must be respected and approached differently.
TREND 4: Accommodating remote and hybrid workers
Today’s global workplace is hybrid by default and leaders need to account for this to achieve lasting wellbeing in their organizations. Accepting the hybrid workplace as permanent is an opportunity to create a unique combination of remote and on-site work. The hybrid model promises greater access to talent and increased productivity for individuals and teams, (Bossert et al., 2021) lower costs, more individual flexibility, and improved employee experiences (Dingri et al., 2018). However, it can also influence organizational norms and culture and the ties that bind people together. The new shared hybrid culture should provide stability, social cohesion, identity and belonging, whether employees are working remotely, on-premises, or in some combination (Alexander et al., 2021).
TREND 5: Financial wellness
The pandemic hit the economy hard and left many people worse off financially than before. Little or no savings, unexpected expenses and a lack of financial knowledge — even a basic understanding — can all lead to financial stress. Employees who struggle financially may be unproductive, frustrated or disengaged, which can cause a ripple effect in the workplace. Financial wellbeing has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health and relationships (Ryu & Fan, 2022). Employees who have their finances in order are in a better position to focus on work, be more engaged and stay productive. A large body of research proves that financial wellness support can reduce stress, and improve employee engagement and loyalty (PwC, 2019).
Alexander, A., Smet, A. D., & Mysore, M. (2021, March 1). Reimagining the Alexander, A., Smet, A. D., & Mysore, M. (2021, March 1). McKinsey & Company. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/reimagining-the-postpandemic-workforce
Bossert, O., Kretzberg, A., & Laartz, J. (2021, March 1). Unleashing the power of small, independent teams. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/unleashing-the-power-of-small-independent-teams
Dingri, N., Emmett, J., & Samadani, M. (2018). Employee experience: Essential to compete. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-organization-blog/employee-experience-essential-to-compete
Harter, J. (2022, August 11). Percent who feel employer cares about their well-being plummets. Gallup.com. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/390776/percent-feel-employer-cares-well-being-plummets.aspx
Harter, J. (2022, August 13). Employee engagement vs. employee satisfaction and organizational culture. Gallup.com. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236366/right-culture-not-employee-satisfaction.aspx=
Krause, W. (2022, June 1). Diversity, equity and inclusion as Fertile Foundation for workplace well-being, optimal performance, and planetary health. SpringerLink. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-95652-3_16
PwC. (2019). Employee Financial Wellness Survey – the experience.work. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.theexperience.work/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/pwc-2019-employee-wellness-survey.pdf
Ryu, S., & Fan, L. (2022). The relationship between financial worries and psychological distress among U.S. adults. Journal of Family and Economic Issues. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-022-09820-9
World Health Organization. (2022). Health and well-being. World Health Organization. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/major-themes/health-and-well-being
World Health Organization. (2022). Mental health in the workplace: Going global. World Health Organization. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/mental-health-in-the-workplace
World Health Organization. (2022). Mental health at work. World Health Organization. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-at-work