Increasingly, People & Culture professionals have made workplace wellness a priority, a key pillar for promoting happiness, productivity and engagement in the company. A thorough understanding of what employee wellbeing is, and what it entails, is essential to creating effective employee wellness strategies that positively impact the workforce.

What is employee wellbeing

When there is wellbeing at work, employees feel satisfied, healthy and motivated. That is why, in answering the question of what is employee wellbeing, we are not only referring to the absence of health-related conditions. This term includes everything that affects, positively or negatively, the physical, mental, financial and social dimensions of workers.

In the workplace, it is crucial that wellness shares a holistic approach that recognizes the connection between everything that impacts the employee experience. We should not limit the concept to tangible aspects such as physical health, but also embrace emotional satisfaction, a sense of belonging and equality in the workplace.

Everything that has an impact on the quality of life of the employees is likely to have an impact on wellbeing. Factors such as the work environment, interpersonal relationships, salary conditions and the challenges, goals and objectives set, among others.

That is why defining what is commonly known as emotional compensation is a common practice to lay the foundations of employee wellbeing. Emotional compensation is based on allocating resources and support of any kind to everything that promotes the overall wellbeing of all employees.

Emotional compensation is any remuneration, not necessarily monetary, that results in well-being at work. Today’s employees are not only motivated by economic stimuli, but also by their desire to learn and feel valued. That is why, when defining and implementing your employee wellness initiatives, you should always take into account whether or not they are in benefit of improving the emotional compensation of your employees.

The importance of wellbeing at work

Workplace wellness has a direct impact on company culture, resulting in numerous benefits for the organization. The importance of wellbeing at work:

  • Helps reduce absenteeism: for those looking to manage absenteeism, working on employee wellbeing can be the solution. It is normal for there to be seasons when employees experience high levels of stress or dissatisfaction. In this context, employees are more likely to be absent from work due to demotivation. This affects the company doubly; by the decrease in productivity and the additional costs it generates.

    How to promote it: try offering additional days off for employees to take care of their physical and mental health. Initiatives such as the 4-day work week usually work quite well in this regard.

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  • Encourages creativity and collaboration: healthy and positive work environments encourage creativity, collaboration among colleagues and experiment-based work. This is best understood when we realize that employees who feel comfortable and supported are more likely to come up with new ideas and seek creative solutions to challenges, right? Don’t forget that creativity and teamwork are key drivers of business growth. By prioritizing employee wellbeing, companies create the conditions for creativity to grow, new ideas to flourish and solutions to be found that drive continuous improvement.

    How to promote it: organize brainstorming sessions and collaborative work spaces. These can be between people from the same department or even from different areas. In this way you will also promote social wellbeing among team members.
  • Strengthens employee retention: promoting employee wellness is a key factor in retaining talent. This, in addition to saving costs associated with employee turnover, contributes to workforce stability.

    How to promote it: offer employees access to career development programs, scholarships, or time for training. Employees who feel that they continue to evolve and learn on the job tend to stay with the company longer.
  • Increases resilience and adaptability to work challenges: the ability, or willingness, that an employee may have to adapt to new challenges or recover from disappointments is enhanced when levels of well-being at work are high. Teams that feel supported tend to develop greater stress management skills, making them better able to deal with challenges constructively.

    How to promote it: organize support sessions where employees have the opportunity to share aspects of their work that they would like to improve. These sessions not only serve as an outlet for those who share work concerns, but also as a meeting point between people who need to solve a problem and people who know how to do it.
  • Improves reputation and therefore helps attract quality talent: promoting employee wellbeing within organizations indirectly improves employer branding. Considering that we find ourselves in a competitive labor market, where there is a constant war for talent, prioritizing wellness is to stand out. Today’s professionals are not only looking for competitive salaries, but also for a work environment that promotes work-life balance, professional development, and employee experience.

    How to promote it: offer employees the possibility of participating in community initiatives during working hours. In this way they will have a space in which they can do activities that allow them to feel better about themselves without having to sacrifice time in their personal lives.
  • Improves employee performance: one of the aspects that stands out for its incredible response to increased wellbeing is performance and productivity. When an employee feels valued, supported and listened to, their engagement at work increases. In addition, being in a work environment that generates wellbeing drives what is known as intrinsic motivation. This intrinsic motivation leads to greater dedication to assigned tasks.

    How to promote it: implement kudos-style employee recognition programs to celebrate achievements and good work. When employees feel that their work is recognized and valued, they not only feel more motivated, but also more committed to give their best.

The 15 indicators of employee wellbeing: the ultimate checklist

A couple of coworkers at a table celebrate with a high-five

How do we know if our company is on the right path to employee wellbeing? Beyond the tangible benefits that we can glimpse, there are a series of indicators of wellbeing. Can you mark with an X all the options in the following list?

We implement comprehensive wellness programs.
There is good work environment.
Employees feel valued and respected.
We offer opportunities for professional growth and development.
There is a balance between the workload and the resources allocated to it.
Communication within the company is transparent and effective.

We work towards a feedback culture in which employees can express their opinions freely.
Collaborative relationships exist between colleagues and managers.

Employees are able to perceive that the work they do has a positive impact on the company.
Employees have a real work-life balance, providing conditions adapted to the individual needs of each person.

There is flexibility in terms of working arrangements.

Support is provided to employees when they are in difficult situations.

There is job stability, without a high level of turnover.

There is a culture of diversity and inclusion.

There is transparency in the economic and financial management of the company.

There are employee wellness initiatives that People & Culture professionals can implement to promote a healthy work environment and improve employees’ quality of life. However, if we do not pay attention to whether these indicators of workplace wellness are a reality in our workplace we will not know if we are promoting workplace wellness in the right way.

But how can you know if your employee wellness initiatives are having a positive impact? To find out, we recommend conducting regular employee wellness surveys. In this way, you will be able to understand the state of your people’s wellbeing and get ideas for improvement.

The 6 types of employee wellbeing

As we can see, wellbeing at work is a very broad concept. To better understand its meaning and importance, it is important to know the different types of wellbeing at work that exist. In this way we will be able to appreciate how each of them influences the quality of life of employees.

There are 6 types of employee wellbeing:

  1. Physical wellbeing
  2. Emotional wellbeing
  3. Social wellbeing
  4. Financial wellbeing
  5. Professional wellbeing
  6. Environmental wellbeing

Physical wellbeing

Physical wellbeing at work refers to the physical and health status of employees in the work environment. It includes aspects such as ergonomics, workplace safety, physical activity and the dissemination of healthy lifestyles.

How to promote it: to improve the physical wellbeing of employees, organizations can implement various measures. For example, providing ergonomic furniture to their workers. It is also important to carry out occupational risk assessments. As well as providing employees with access to sports facilities, or promoting a healthy and balanced diet.

Emotional wellbeing

Emotional wellbeing at work is related to the emotional balance and satisfaction of employees in their work. It implies that employees know how to recognize and manage their emotions in the work environment. In this sense, it is very important that Human Resources professionals provide emotional support to their people and promote a positive work environment.

Let’s keep in mind that workers who are at ease in their workplace are less likely to develop health-related conditions. This prevents the onset of disorders resulting from stress or dissatisfaction, such as depression, anxiety or burnout.

How to promote it: companies can offer emotional support resources. A good example would be the creation of spaces for active listening, to help employees express and manage their emotions. As well as initiatives to promote resilience.

Social wellbeing

Social employee wellbeing refers to the relationships and sense of belonging that employees experience in the work environment. It involves the quality of social interactions, collaboration and teamwork, as well as support and inclusion in the workplace.

How to promote it: fostering a collaborative work environment, promoting diversity and inclusion, and encouraging effective communication and positive relationships contributes to the social well-being of employees. This can be achieved through team building activities, social events or recognition programs that promote interaction and connection among team members.

Financial wellbeing

Economic wellbeing at work is related to employees’ job satisfaction and economic stability.

How to promote it: to promote this type of wellbeing, it is very common to establish incentive strategies linked to company objectives. Periodic salary reviews are also very common. In addition, some companies seek to offer other attractive employment benefits, such as pension plans and health insurance.

Professional wellbeing

Professional wellbeing refers to the career development and satisfaction of employees. Providing development opportunities is fundamental to promote this type of work wellbeing.

This involves trusting in their abilities and allowing them to take initiative, strengthening their professional wellbeing and stimulating their intellectual and creative capacities.

How to promote it: in this regard, companies can include training programs, skills upgrading training, mentoring and the possibility of taking on new roles and responsibilities. In addition, encouraging autonomy at work allows employees to make their own decisions, learn from it and have greater control over their own career.

Environmental wellbeing

Environmental wellbeing refers to the physical and environmental conditions of the workplace.

How to promote it: this includes aspects such as air quality, lighting, noise or space design. In cases where conditions are not optimal, companies can consider alternatives such as providing subsidies for the use of coworking spaces or shared work rooms. This allows employees to access a suitable working environment away from their homes, where they can concentrate and collaborate effectively.

Employee wellbeing through the data

  • At least 9 out of 10 companies have implemented some type of wellness-related initiative.
  • On average, 85% of large companies and 54% of small companies offer some type of wellness program.
  • It has been confirmed that 56% of employees who participate in a wellness program have reported fewer sick days than those who do not have access to them, or do not participate.
  • Emotional wellbeing continues to make headlines in organizations. 33% of employees have reported suffering from some type of stress at work.
  • More than 90% of workers confirm that the fact that the company provides support in terms of mental health is highly valued.
  • In addition, 80% say that mental health support is a key factor when it comes to changing companies.
  • This may be driven by the fact that 77% of employees have reported an increase in work-related mental health conditions.
  • And 25% confirm that they are working in a toxic company.
  • 66% of employees reported that they work in the office because they are forced to do so by the company, far from what they would like to do as workers.
  • While 57% of workers said that a determining factor when choosing a company to work for would be that they could achieve a real balance between their personal and work life.
  • As far as financial wellbeing is concerned, 60% of employees think that the company they work for would be the best place for them to work.
  • In addition, 46% of employees confirm that they are not satisfied with their current salary.
  • In terms of social wellbeing, inclusion continues to be an unresolved issue for many companies. 97% of companies claim to have made some move to promote diversity and equality in their organizations. However, only 37% of employees confirm that they have done so.
  • Also in social terms, two-thirds of employees working remotely say that they have felt lonely at some point. Seventeen percent of them say they feel lonely at all times. 
  • 15% of employees feel that their manager does not care about their well-being.
  • And 31% believe that the frequency with which both their manager and colleagues compliment them on their work should be improved.
  • With regard to professional wellbeing, more than half of managers say they have not received any training in remote employee management.
  • In addition, 29% of employees feel some uncertainty about their work.
  • And 18% of employees demand more opportunities to improve their skills.

Workplace wellness emerges in organizations as an essential pillar, directly impacting the quality of life, productivity and satisfaction of employees. For, as we have explored, wellbeing at work is not simply the absence of conditions or problems, but the active presence of indicators that foster a healthy environment for workers.

It is a reality that as companies begin to realize the direct connection between workplace wellness and business success, change will occur. In this new organizational landscape, empathy and a commitment to employee wellness are the strategies that create workplaces that help employees grow and work well.