The Best Employee Wellbeing Initiatives (Based on Data)

Andrew Buck August 22, 2022
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If you’re running a company or managing people today, you need to be aware that employee wellbeing matters. 

When your team members are in a better physical, mental and emotional state, they’re going to perform better. They’ll stick around longer, reducing turnover (and its associated costs), and they’ll contribute to a positive work environment.

If you want to make it a focus to treat your employees right, keep reading. We’re going to discuss the most important priorities for today’s workers when it comes to wellbeing, so you can put together a collection of employee wellbeing initiatives to implement in your workplace.

What is Employee Wellbeing?

A lot of things can come under the banner of employee wellbeing. In a broad sense, we can say that it covers the mental, physical and emotional health of your employees.

Part of it, for example, would be ensuring that employees are happy and content while they’re employed (not just while they’re at work, but during their home life as well). It could also include limiting stress in the workplace, and helping employees stay fit and healthy.

Generally speaking, employee wellbeing just means that employees are happy and healthy. When that’s the case, it’s not just good for the employee, but for the business as well.

The benefits for the business include:

You’ll feel the difference between a roster of employees who are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, and one that’s not. You’ll notice a positive environment, which helps the team as a whole stay happy and healthy. What’s more, it generally translates externally, putting your customers or clients in a better frame of mind as well.

What are the Top Wellbeing Priorities for Employees Today?

So, we know we want to keep employees happy and healthy. But how exactly is the best way to do that?

One way to figure it out is to look at data. A Statista survey looked specifically at the wellbeing priorities of US employees today. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of a number of wellbeing activities, and survey takers put together a list of all those activities rated “high priority” or “moderate priority” by the respondent.

Here’s what came out of the survey:

ActivityShare of Respondents
Not living beyond means/staying within a budget81%
Eating healthy81%
Managing or balancing work and personal commitments79%
Getting enough exercise76%
Reducing or managing stress75%
Retirement income/wealth accumulation74%
Growing and maintaining relationships73%
Building an emergency fund72%
Routine medical screenings/physicals or managing health conditions71%
Spending time on one’s self and one’s interests/hobbies71%
Reducing debt70%
Saving up for a large purchase (e.g. car/boat/wedding/vacation)60%
Gaining new skills/advancing career60%
Childcare51%
Data source

9 Effective Employee Wellbeing Initiatives

Using the data above, we can gather an idea of what kind of employee wellbeing initiatives are actually important and valued by employees.

Those that a lot of people rate as being important to them are quite likely to make a big difference to their emotional health at least, as well as potentially their mental and physical wellbeing.

Let’s look at nine different employee wellbeing initiative you can consider adding in your business, based on the priorities of today’s employees.

Offer a Generous Paid Time Off Allowance

79% of employees say that balancing work and personal commitments is important to them. 75% say managing stress is important, while 71% want to find ways to spend time on themselves and their own hobbies.

You can work towards all of these areas by providing your employees with enough paid time off. This allows them to maintain a life outside of work, and spend more time on their own interests and with their friends and family.

Many companies are hesitant to offer much in the way of paid time off or vacation days, as they think this will hurt productivity too much. But you’ll find that, when employees are happy and satisfied with their work/life balance, you get more out of them during the time they’re at work.

This adds up to a greater increase in productivity if you give employees an above-average number of PTO days.

If managing paid time off in your business is the concern, teams that use Slack should check out Flamingo. It makes leave requests and approvals, as well as scheduling and managing your vacation calendar super simple. As a result, you can provide employees with the time off they need to live their own lives, without stressing about how to keep the business on track in their absence.

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Flexible Working Hours

All of the priorities above can also be helped by providing the option for flexible working hours.

This gives your employees the opportunity to mix in personal life, commitments and hobbies, taking away the restraints of being chained to the office from 9 to 5 every day.

More and more companies today understand that you don’t need to stick to the same old way of doing things. Offer up the freedom for employees to choose when (and potentially where) they work, and as long as they get the job done, there is very little downside.

Competitive Compensation/Bonuses

The old saying that money doesn’t buy happiness (or health, for that matter), is true. But it certainly helps.

A lot of the wellbeing priorities mentioned above relate directly or indirectly to money.

Of course, there’s also a business to run, and it’s not possible to just hand employees a blank cheque. But paying people more is going to lead to higher levels of employee wellness.

Higher pay will help employees live better, reduce financial stress, and come to work happier and more motivated.

The payoff for the company is increased performance, and reduced turnover.

Many companies try to skimp on employee wages. But consider the benefits that increasing pay rates can have – for both employees and, as an extension, the business as a whole.

Paid Healthcare/Health Checkups

Health is another big priority when it comes to employee wellness. It’s also one that many employees may not recognize as such a high priority.

It stands to reason that a lot of people are going to point out work/life balance and money as high priorities. Yet it’s just as important that they stay healthy, as this carries over to every other area of life.

71% of the survey respondents point to medical screenings/checkups/managing medical conditions as a high priority. Whether your company offers full healthcare benefits, or simply pays for regular physicals/checkups, it’s within your interests to help employees stay on top of their health.

Mental Health Resources

Physical health is not the only thing that matters. Today, more than ever, the spotlight is also on mental health.

75% of people say reducing or managing stress is a high priority at work. And there are even more who are under stress, but don’t really recognize it as an issue.

Issues with stress and mental health are important to address early, before they become chronic. When an employee is burned out, it’s often too late. You want to get to employees who may be struggling, whether it’s with work-related stress, or issues outside of work, before these issues start to manifest in the workplace.

A little proactivity with mental health, such as offering counseling, therapy, or resources like Calm/Headspace apps, can go a long way to keeping the mental wellbeing of your team members under control.

Further Reading:

Learn more about Employee Burnout, how to prevent it, symptoms to look out for, and how to treat cases in your business.

Healthy Office Lunches/Snacks

The joint top priority for employees today is eating healthy.

81% of people say that this is important to them. And it should be important to employers, too. A good diet goes a long way to helping employees stay fit and healthy. It will also increase energy levels and focus, meaning higher productivity at work.

Much of our poor diet choices are due to convenience and cost. If you provide healthy options in the workplace, a lot of peoples’ diets will improve overnight, and you’ll see the results in a reduction of sick days, and more energy overall from your workforce.

Free Gym Memberships or Fitness Classes

Another thing that most people value is exercise. 76% of the surveyed respondents gave this as one of their prioritized activities, and that’s not counting those who don’t grasp the importance and benefits of staying fit.

Getting exercise and staying in shape has a profound effect on many areas of work and life. It promotes better immune health, energy levels, better sleep, greater happiness, lower stress, and much more.

The cost of paying for gym memberships or offering fitness stipends will almost always be worth it, when you see the benefits on employees’ performance, health and happiness.

Social Outings

An interesting thing we can pick out from the list of employee wellbeing priorities is that 73% of people value “growing and maintaining relationships”.

You’ve got to remember that employees are not just cogs in a machine. We’re all people, and we all need social interaction and meaningful relationships.

If you spend 40+ hours at work every week, it’s extremely important that you have satisfying relationships with the others you work with.

Investing in this side of the business can have a lot of benefits. Try organizing social, non work-related outings, or team building activities. This can help people grow closer together, and will ultimately result in a more positive environment for everyone to work in.

Invest in Training and Development

Finally, giving people a clear road to grow and advance in their career is an effective way to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing.

We all want a sense of purpose. It’s incredibly draining to feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job, with no hopes of learning more or taking on more responsibility.

In our study above, 60% of respondents said that gaining new skills or advancing in their career was important to them. It should be important to employers as well. Not only are you helping your employees feel better at work, you’re also going to develop a more capable and skilled team in the process.

Further Reading:

A full list of the most common, and most valued, Employee Benefits today.

Final Thoughts – The Best Employee Wellbeing Initiatives for Your Team

If you’re running a team, the wellbeing of your team members is extremely important.

Their physical wellbeing is the most obvious area, as healthy employees require fewer sick days and have higher energy levels at work.

But mental and emotional wellbeing are both vital as well. Employees who are feeling good in each of these three areas (physical, mental, emotional) will be more motivated, and produce a higher standard of work for the company.

Make this a priority in your team, and start thinking about employee wellbeing initiatives to help your team perform at their peak.

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