Need for Holistic Well-Being Programs Has Increased

Budgeting, work-life balance and stress management were among high priorities cited by employees surveyed.

Employees are feeling increased physical, emotional, financial and career stress, research shows.

And U.S. employees’ perceptions of well-being across key areas—including physical, mental/emotional, financial, social and career well-being—have declined over the past year, according to Alight Solutions’ “2021 Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study.”

Meanwhile, WorldatWork’s “Workplace Well-Being Trends” survey finds more than one-third of workers are perpetually burned out, which impacts engagement, innovation, productivity and well-being. The drivers of burn-out are largely related to job duties, manager interactions and personal health concerns.

WorldatWork’s survey suggests workforce well-being programs should support an employee’s physical, emotional or financial health, and nurture a positive and productive organizational culture. However, not all well-being programs are driving the intended impact on culture or worker health. Ninety-two percent of organizations make workplace well-being a priority and 96% have programs, but only 70% of employees agree their employer cares about well-being a great or good deal.

Eighty-five percent of employees who responded to the Alight study say “well-being programs offered by my employer make me feel better about my employer”—up 4 percentage points from last year. Financial well-being programs are most often cited as valuable, but programs across all dimensions of well-being get high marks.

The Alight study also found that employees continue to identify a diverse set of well-being priorities, supporting the case for employers to consider and provide a variety of initiatives. At least 75% of employees cite budgeting, eating healthy, work/personal balance, exercise and stress management as high or moderate priorities.

Well-being priorities differ by age and circumstance, though. For example, reducing debt is a higher priority among those with non-mortgage debt and taking care of children/others a higher priority among parents and caregivers. Alight suggests that, while having a diverse set of offerings is critical, employers should research the top priorities for their specific employee population as they consider where they want to make an investment.

Looking at physical, mental/emotional and financial dimensions of well-being programs, the Alight study found there is a stronger relationship between availability and access to communication resources (well-being champions, websites, newsletters and virtual experiences) and overall well-being than the relationship between the number of programs, type of programs or tools available, and perceived well-being. Alight says providing support and high-quality resources are important.

WorldatWork’s survey found that an employer’s decision to invest in well-being is most influenced by culture/well-being goals (66%), perspectives from executive leadership (61%) and a desire for enhanced workforce productivity/engagement (60%).

WorldatWork CEO Scott Cawood says the firm’s survey “highlights that a culture of well-being plays a far more critical role than any one benefit program to the long-term success of an organization.”