How leading organisations are putting wellbeing first

Future of work trend #3: Vitality

The flipside of vitality is burnout. And that takes a very human toll on organisations. Remote working has given us all a much greater understanding of the importance of managing our own wellbeing, with so many factors seeming out of our control. So how will your company put employee wellbeing first in the year ahead?

Mental health issues are one of the biggest health problems in the Asia-Pacific. An EIU study suggests that by 2030, mental illness could reduce economic growth in India and China by $US11 trillion.

For organisations, that economic cost is being seen in lost productivity or mistakes at work. Leaders and managers who feel overwhelmed are more likely to miss important information or make rash decisions.

Workplace wellbeing initiatives are also simply the right thing to do. According to the World Economic Forum, unaddressed burnout can lead to panic attacks, digestive issues, heart disease, immune disorders, migraines, depression, and even suicide.

After enduring two years of the rollercoaster ride that is COVID, it’s no surprise employees are feeling utterly exhausted. A recent Korn Ferry study found 89% of professionals globally are suffering from burnout, and 81% say they are more burned out now than at the start of the pandemic. Just 6% feel energised right now.

With this burnout, we’re seeing an increase in insecurity and frustration amongst workers across APAC. Clients have told us some of their people are more transactional in their work – doing the bare minimum. Stress and illness are also impacting communication. Lower engagement leads to lower performance – and increased frustration both internally and from customers.

By focusing on restoring their energy, you can help your people find a way to balance work-life engagement – and feel they can thrive both professionally and personally.

3 ways organisations can restore energy in 2022

1. Looking at the bigger picture. Many organisations now recognise that employee wellness is just as important as the organisation’s financial health. And while subsidised gym memberships or extra healthcare benefits may have a feel-good factor, holistic wellbeing programs can make a longer-lasting impact.

For example, Johnson & Johnson’s offices have wellbeing standards built-in, with sit/stand desks, exercise and relaxation spaces, and nutrition guidance in the staff restaurant.

Having proven their resilience and flexibility over the last two years, employees expect more support for their personal needs and more choice over how and where they work. In New Zealand, several companies, including Unilever, are trialling a four-day workweek.

2. Adding a more human touch. With hybrid and remote working models here to stay, simple measures such as encouraging remote-working employees to take regular walking breaks, or structured opportunities for social activities and community connections, can also make a difference.

We also see leaders showing empathy through various communication channels. This includes checking in regularly via call or message, sending items like food and drink and even taking support to social media by commenting on posts and liking photos.

3. Tailoring support. It’s important to recognise everyone is different in how they perceive situations and challenges. To find the right ways to revitalise each member of your team, it’s important to take diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) into account and accept these differences.

Consciously designing wellbeing initiatives can help you overcome rising compliance costs such as workers compensation claims for stress-related conditions. And it will also help you attract and retain scarce talent, by building a strong employee value proposition. Plus, by reducing the impact of overwhelm, you can help teams improve productivity and unlock performance potential.

It’s also worth acknowledging the number one reason cited for burnout in Korn Ferry’s September 2021 survey: increased workload, or not enough resources. That is also something within the control of many organisations – and if you want to avoid the fallout of burnout in the year ahead, resource management needs to be part of your wellbeing strategy.

Your organisation is only as good as your people. By prioritising the well-being of your employees, you’ll also be prioritising the wellbeing of your business.