Workplace Wellbeing Initiative

2024 Trends

The current landscape of the workforce is marked by several significant trends. There is a noticeable increase in precarious employment, emphasizing the need for new methods to support workers’ health, including their mental health. Technology-driven shifts, compounded by the pandemic, have heightened feelings of loneliness, prompting initiatives to foster social connections at work. With remote work becoming prevalent, there’s a growing demand for virtual communication skills, especially among Gen Z workers. Federal governments are enacting legislation to mitigate the rising trend in psychosocial risks, mirroring the growing recognition of mental health in occupational safety regulations globally. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence is revolutionizing workplace wellbeing by offering personalized support, predicting mental health issues and addressing challenges before they escalate. These trends underscore the importance of proactive measures and technology in supporting employee health and productivity. 

The Rise of Precarious Employment

A multi-dimensional phenomenon that is increasingly affecting various types of workforces, precarious employment, is on the rise, which might have long-term health and wellbeing effects across job groups and socioeconomic strata.1  There are several dimensions of precarious employment, which include employment security, income inadequacy and the absence of workers’ rights and protections.2  This shift is important for many reasons, especially as the gig economy grows and workers become independent contractors, as they will be harder to study and monitor. An analysis of precarious employment in the USA has shown a shift from being highest among women, people of color and those with lower levels of education to increasing in men, higher-income groups and college-educated individuals.3  This will require new methods to track these workers and make sure, as a society, we are able to provide resources and support for health and wellbeing that would otherwise be accessed through the workplace. The Lancet Work & Health4 series offers recommendations to mitigate these risks and accelerate improvement in working conditions to make work a key lever in improving the health and wellbeing of populations. 


  • Kreshpaj B, Orellana C, Burström B, et al. What is precarious employment? A systematic review of definitions and operationalizations from quantitative and qualitative studies. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. January 1, 2020;46(3):235-47.
  • Ibid 
  • Oddo VM, Zhuang CC, Andrea SB, et al. Changes in precarious employment in the United States: A longitudinal analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. April 4, 2021;47(3):171. 
  • Frank J, Mustard C, Smith P, et al. Work as a social determinant of health in high-income countries: Past, present, and future. Lancet. October 23, 2023.

Workplaces Called to Address Employee Social Connection, Loneliness and Isolation

The Lancet Work & Health series identifies the influence of technology on the nature of work as an emerging challenge in high-income countries, culminating in the sudden shift to telework during the COVID-19 pandemic and increases in social isolation.1 A 2022 global Microsoft study reports more than half of hybrid and remote employees feel lonelier at work than before they shifted to hybrid or remote work arrangements, and even more report having fewer work friendships.2 For many employers, these trends are generating a call for employees to come back to in-person work at least part of the time, but that alone will not solve for loneliness. The science of social connection tells us that it’s not just the volume of social connections that matter; we must also attend to the functional and quality elements of our social connections with others. In November of 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the WHO Commission on Social Connection, a three-year initiative which aims to see the issue recognized and resourced as a global public health priority.4 This includes advancing a global agenda on social connection and raising support to disseminate information on proven solutions and measure progress. While echoing the significant impact social connection has on health, the Commission also acknowledges the business impacts. Feeling disconnected and unsupported in your job can lead to poorer job satisfaction and performance, so there is a need for workplaces to address this growing problem. The workplace can be instrumental in fostering the key to increased health and wellbeing through meaningful relationships and strong social connections. A joint effort between Harvard and MIT5 launched online toolkits to identify evidence-based policies, practices and interventions for addressing social connection at work.  


Virtual Communication Skills are Imperative for the Future of Work

In an era where remote and hybrid work models now dominate, organizational leaders are navigating a new workforce landscape, emphasizing the need for virtual communication as a key digital soft skill. A study by The Workforce Institute1 reveals only 56% of Gen Z workers feel ready to engage with customers, and this generation will make up 27% share of the global workforce by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.2 The pandemic’s impact on professional development for these digital natives has been profound, affecting everything from workspace availability to mentorship dynamics. This unpreparedness reflects a wider gap in digital workplace training. The assumption that in-person soft skills would naturally adapt to virtual environments is being reconsidered. New research points to the necessity of redefined communication techniques for the digital age, including the nuances of video chat eye contact3 and the interpretation of nonverbal cues. Leaders are seeking insights from social science to bridge this training gap, preparing for a digital future. AT&T’s research predicts a significant rise in hybrid work, from 42% in 2021 to 81% by 2024, underscoring the importance of virtual communication training.4 This shift towards virtual and hybrid meetings calls for a workforce adept in digital intelligence and interactions, both with customers and within teams. By prioritizing these skills, organizations aim to cultivate a digitally adept workforce equipped to navigate the evolving demands of the future of work. 


Artificial Intelligence (AI)-Driven Workplace Wellbeing Trends

In 2024, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in workplace wellbeing is expected to focus on enhancing tailored recommendations to support individual and organization wide, employee needs. AI is also being developed to tackle psychosocial risk stratification and support systems. These technical approaches will ideally enable organizations to identify and address specific workplace wellbeing challenges before they escalate, ensuring a healthier and more productive workforce. Another key area where AI can play a pivotal role is in identifying the factors that contribute to an employee’s sense of fulfillment and engagement at work. By analyzing data on work patterns, social interactions and employee feedback, AI can help organizations foster an environment that supports ‘Quiet Thriving,’ a concept that encourages employees to make mental shifts and take actions that enhance their wellbeing and resilience in the face of workplace stress.

  1. AI can support the holistic wellbeing of employees by addressing emerging priorities such as obesity management, menopause and healthy aging, ensuring that wellbeing programs are inclusive and cater to the diverse needs of the workforce. By integrating the latest research and trends into wellbeing strategies, AI can help organizations offer relevant and effective support to their employees, contributing to overall health and reducing healthcare costs.
  2. Another significant trend is the proactive and preventive approach to employee mental health, where AI’s capabilities in data analytics can be leveraged to predict potential mental health issues and recommend interventions. This could include personalized wellbeing programs, stress management resources or targeted support for individuals at higher risk of mental health challenges.
  3. Overall, the use of AI in workplace wellbeing is set to become more sophisticated in 2024, with a focus on personalized, proactive and preventive measures that address employees’ physical, mental and emotional needs. Organizations that leverage AI in their wellbeing strategies will be better positioned to attract, retain and engage top talent, fostering a culture of health and productivity. 


Many Countries Are Enacting Legislation to Minimize Workforce Psychosocial Risk

The importance of mental health in occupational health and safety has become a global priority, with many countries taking steps to protect workers’ psychological wellbeing. In 2022, the World Health Organization released a report, highlighting the workplace as a key example of a setting where transformative action on mental health is needed. This might include measures to alleviate mental and emotional stress from a variety of issues ranging from burnout to bullying to boredom. For example, in Australia, the federal government recently passed The Work Health and Safety Act, which identified common psychosocial hazards and called for organizations to assess and control risks through job design and management. Australia’s action comes on the heels of the ISO 45003 standard that emerged from the UK in 2021, one of the first global standards to provide employers with practical guidance on managing psychosocial risks within the workplace. Such regulations place protections against psychosocial risks on par with business responsibility to minimize physical hazards at the workplace. These new regulations aim to better protect workers’ mental health by identifying psychosocial hazards and risks and providing guidance on how to assess such risks, control them and monitor the effectiveness of these actions. Particular areas covered include job design, adequate training, addressing bullying and reasonable work hour and demands. 


Focus on Women in the Workforce and Women’s Health

Women’s health is influenced by various socio-cultural, organizational, and individual factors, many of which may be addressed through the workplace. Despite some progress, gender parity in the labor market remains significantly challenged and working women still encounter unique stressors.1 Gender gaps in pay and employment opportunities influence financial well-being.2 Socio-cultural contributors to gender gaps in well-being include gender roles and expectations, cultural norms and societal pressures.3 Organizational factors and workplace stressors which affect mental health include gender discrimination and bias, workload and role overload, lack of support and resources, work-life balance challenges, job insecurity and career advancement barriers. Specific mental health concerns among working women include increased prevalence of anxiety and depression, burnout and emotional exhaustion, and pre/postpartum mental health.4 Unique women’s hormonal health issues include Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, menopause, endometriosis, PCOS and the unique developments of increased levels of neurodegeneration in women which begins to manifest in middle age.5 These issues influence women’s ability to participate fully in the workforce, which has additional implications for financial well-being. 

Understanding the complex interplay of factors affecting the health of working women is crucial for implementing effective interventions and support systems in 2024 and beyond. While employers focus on addressing the socio-cultural, organizational, and individual factors, other stakeholders (policymakers and healthcare professionals) are focused on identifying and developing more gender-sensitive approaches to health promotion and support in the workplace.


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