The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for changes in our workplaces. Now, over one year into this global event, organizations comprehend its profound impact on both spheres of our lives – personal and professional. Some may even argue that these two are no more separate – rather more entwined than ever as people experience daily rendezvous (in one way or the other) between colleagues and our family members. With this emerging new normal, organizations need to adapt to these changing dynamics and reinvent the way we engage with our associates, teams, clients, and communities.
While progressive organizations have long recognized that wellbeing is important, the pandemic brought home how significant it really is. It’s the aspiration, values and purpose of organizations that serve as a compass during these challenging times, with wellbeing at the core. Organizations suddenly found themselves called upon to prioritize associate wellbeing as a matter of survival, as protecting their health and alleviating their stress became critical to business. Recognizing the inextricable link among our wellbeing, our work, and our lives paves the way for us to individually and collectively contemplate how each component can be integrated so that both associates and organizations can thrive moving forward.
An environment where people of all walks of life feel supported and valued is key to a happy and inclusive workplace. This is an environment that enables people to be their best self at work, home and in their communities. Organizations that are built on a culture of trust, transparency and empathy will stand out in today’s world.
The need for holistic employee wellbeing is clear as a day, with an emphasis on ‘holistic.’ Employee wellbeing must encompass emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing of an individual. Organizations benefit from fostering a culture of wellbeing at work that transcends to the homes as well as families of their associates. At the end of the day every associate is looking for a fair exchange between what they give to their company and what they get back.
Employee experience and wellbeing is going to form the foundation of a futuristic workplace. As organizations move towards hybrid models, a combination of physical and remote workspace, future wellbeing strategies will need to align with this hybrid model. Wellbeing offerings must be flexible and nimble, which cater to following pertinent aspect:
- Wellbeing is a strategic driver for talent advancement: Wellbeing is no longer optional or a narrowly focused element of the rewards menu, it must be front and center as a business imperative for leading, high-performance cultures and companies. The tenets of associate wellbeing have to be deeply embedded into the organizational culture. According to a 2021 Global Wellbeing Report by AON, while 87% of organizations have a wellbeing initiative in place, only 55% have a wellbeing strategy. It is important to “walk the talk”, starting from top leadership taking ownership for employee wellbeing, to reporting out progress alongside business goals. Organizations must define tangible and measurable metrics to measure and improve employee wellbeing. For example, calls to EAP, tele-consultations with doctors and claims on psychological counselling have risen manyfold since the pandemic – this has elevated the discussion on mental wellbeing. Having a wellbeing index and tracking it will ensure that organizations have a real time pulse and are able to create a safe working environment, assess and review what’s working and what’s not
- Inclusive for employees and their families - The circle of influence needs to widen for organizations to ensure that an employee’s family and/or dependents are an integral part of the wellbeing charter. Whether it is medical insurance coverage or wellness sessions – the family should have access. Extending coverage beyond employees will help safeguard their mental and emotional wellbeing. This also enhances the experience footprint of an organization’s culture and ultimately adds on to its overall employee value proposition.
- Technology driven bespoke solutions - Today, we are consuming technology like never before, while "telepresence" has changed the workplace forever. Future wellbeing strategies should evolve to reflect such developments. Fortunately, nimble technology-driven solutions offer flexibility to scale, access and amend as needed, and analytics enable the ROI of these programs to be gauged. Digital solutions enable organizations to address the unique needs of employees. To cite an example, customized apps can provide an array of wellbeing programs to a multi-generational workforce and augment the hybrid work model.
The future of wellbeing is holistic and built seamlessly into the employee experience in a hybrid work environment. Technology and wellbeing are at an inflection point, making it imperative for organizations to listen and adapt to create an environment of flexibility, tolerance, support, and compassion. Regardless of the industry these key aspects can help steer the wellbeing charter of an organization in the desired direction.