Emotional Well-being: Exploring the next stage of impactful employee assistance programs
Emotional well-being has gained salience in the last two years as the concern around employee health rises. While the pandemic created many challenges for employees, emotional well-being initially remained buried under more pressing concerns. But it wasn't long before employees felt the need to address their emotional and mental well-being concerns.
Companies also began to look at employee emotional well-being as part of their holistic approach to employee wellness and it soon became a hot topic of discussion. One that will not fade away any time soon.
If left unaddressed, emotional well-being concerns prove detrimental to employees and the company. Companies, leaders, and managers have grown to recognise the crucial link between wellness and employee engagement, morale, and job satisfaction. As they move ahead and design holistic wellness programs, addressing the need for emotional well-being will be crucial. To do this effectively companies will need to break down the different factors and create a multi-pronged effort to find and build the right solutions.
Address growing isolation
There is a broad range of issues that can have an impact on a person's emotional and mental health. When it comes to work, these factors can include the 24/7 ‘always on’ culture and its effect on sleep, the need to juggle multiple responsibilities and roles in addition to work, financial pressures, and, for many, isolation and loneliness that remote and hybrid work brings with itself.
Companies need to curate wellness initiatives that tackle these nuances to address emotional well-being. While creating safe, confidential, and stigma-free access to mental health services like therapy is one part of the equation, other aspects like team bonding, a clear work-life balance, and easy access to financial resources improve emotional well-being. This has to be balanced with the digital exhaustion and burnout employees are increasingly reporting due to the 'always on' culture that the digital-first world of work is creating.
The role of other dimensions of wellness
To build a successful wellness program, it is imperative to take a holistic approach, ensuring that all aspects of well-being are considered. Efficacy in addressing other dimensions of well-being is crucial when it comes to emotional well-being. These dimensions – financial, social, and physical – and how employees experience their roles will be affected by issues involving emotional or mental health.
To address emotional well-being, companies need robust initiatives that help improve their employees' physical, social, and financial well-being. With emotional well-being linked to connectivity, financial security, and physical health, addressing these factors lays a strong foundation for improving emotional well-being.
Create a better job satisfaction
Emotional stressors are linked to the impact of how employees view their work and lives. While the pandemic aggravated the situation, employees today face the threat of job security, long hours in a fast-evolving hybrid world of work, and falling levels of job dissatisfaction. Moreover, studies have shown that a lack of clear purpose and alignment with personal goals, followed closely by well-being concerns, were the primary reasons that sparked off labour trends like the Great Resignation in the first place.
The first step to addressing emotional well-being is by providing job security and satisfaction. This moves beyond the realm of wellness programs. Next, companies need to address employee concerns around skills shortage and purpose and equip them to prepare for the hybrid world of work.
Deploying Technology for a better mental health
Digital tools within wellness have become a vital determinant of a successful, holistic wellness effort. Their apt usage can help tackle social isolation and make accessing emotional well-being services easy. Therefore, companies investing in developing their wellness programs by embedding digital tools and technologies need to pay close attention to how they leverage such tools for the better emotional health of their employees.
Digital tools help companies customise wellness initiatives as well. A one-size-fits-all approach won't work across diverse workforces in a rapidly changing world. Instead, organisations must customise their emotional and mental well-being programs based on what they're experiencing,
There's a role for employers in providing education and support programs to employees.
However, while digital tools provide an impactful solution and give employees the agency to chart their wellness journey, companies need to support using such tools by tackling structural barriers that have historically hindered a concerted effort to tackle emotional well-being problems.
Overcoming structural challenges
Perhaps the most critical step in addressing emotional well-being challenges lies within the company and how it is structured to handle emotional and mental well-being challenges. To create better emotional well-being, companies need to build suitable supporting structures that create the right environment to address these issues. These include:
- Leaders setting the right tone: Leaders have an unparalleled role in ensuring emotional well-being is prioritised within the company and conversations around mental well-being are normalised.
- Destigmatising Emotional Wellbeing: In addition to leaders setting the right tone, HR leaders and wellness professionals have to work closely with team managers to ensure they destigmatise the uptake of emotional well-being resources and allow employees to air their concerns.
- Leveraging Data and tools: While data-based decision-making is part of many processes, wellness often gets left behind. The anonymous and prudent use of emotional well-being data can help companies create the right strategies.
- Raising Investments: Creating buy-in and raising investments towards improving emotional well-being issues is a critical challenge that companies must address. Given the role that emotional well-being plays in the overall engagement and retention of employees, strategically raising investments can help companies get the correct result.
Emotional and Mental health becomes even more critical in an era of constant change. As businesses undertake broader transformation initiatives, an employee's well-being, including how valued they feel, is critical in helping achieve an organisation's broader change objectives.
The march toward holistic well-being has to include clear intentions and investments to improve the emotional well-being of the employees. This will prove crucial to companies hoping to address employee burnout, absenteeism, disengagement, and an overall fall in employee morale. As companies look to the future where transformations and agile business models herald a period of sustained growth, ensuring a focus on emotional well-being is crucial.