To begin World WellBeing At Work Week 2023, Jonathan Wiseman, Director, and Precious Obiagwu, Manager, of sponsors Deloitte LLP Jersey, discuss what this research has shown them, the importance of workplace wellbeing, and the benefits it brings to both individuals and organisations.
Across a wide range of topics and respondents, our research shows there is a strong message that employees’ attitudes have changed since Covid-19: they are prioritising belonging, purpose, and flexibility much more than before.
In a world where purpose-driven organisations succeed, and employees seek meaningful work, wellbeing is not a one-size-fits-all. It is critical for companies to get this equation right with their people, to understand what is important and to demonstrate that they are acting on it.
Why is workplace wellbeing important?
Where, how, and when people work may have changed and will continue to evolve in the future.
Traditional boundaries between work and other life activities have been heavily eroded. It is necessary to change the way we think about wellbeing to reflect these changes in the workplace.
Work can impact many aspects of an individual’s wellbeing, including their physical, mental, social, and financial health, as well as their sense of purpose and ability to grow.
Historic initiatives around workplace wellbeing have often been reactive; strategies which wait until people are struggling before intervening, employee assistance programmes, side of desk champions (people who volunteer in support networks), and ‘one and done’ events.
As employees’ focus and prioritisation has changed, companies need to take a step forward. Seeking to adopt a more holistic approach of human sustainability, which is about reconfiguring organisations, the value chain and society to ensure that people can thrive – where wellbeing is the ultimate outcome.
What has research shown?
Deloitte collaborated with the independent research firm Workplace Intelligence to survey 3,150 C- suite executives, managers, and employees across four countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia – in our Wellbeing at Work 2023 Survey. A heavy workload, stressful job, and long work hours topped the list of obstacles that respondents said were getting in the way of improving their wellbeing.
Many employees are finding it difficult to prioritise their health and engage in positive wellbeing behaviours – especially those tied to their job.
74% reported they struggle to take time off or disconnect from work, with only around half (or less) reporting that they ‘always’ or ‘often’ use all their vacation time each year (52%), move/exercise each day (48%), take micro breaks during the workday (47%), get at least seven hours of sleep (45%), and have enough time for friends and family (42%).
Increased pressure leading to workplace stress can result in burnout for employees, as well as a deterioration in the quality of their work and productivity.
What are the benefits to employers and how can they achieve them?
There is a myriad of proven benefits to employers from taking a proactive approach and investing – reduced attrition, increased engagement, better productivity, and attraction; at which point wellbeing will be seen as a profit centre instead of a cost centre.
To do this well, organisations will need wellbeing strategies supported by cross-functional, diverse teams to ensure that the needs, interests, concerns, and expectations of the entire workforce are considered and addressed.
Employees want more than just a health promotion programme or a wellness stipend. In fact, we found that most workers expect their organisation to challenge societal norms, support their holistic health, and be more future-oriented than ever before.
Wellbeing programmes should be designed to build upon any existing wellbeing, to address organisational stressors, such as high workload, lack of psychological safety or boundaries between work and home. They should support workers to build resilience as they adopt and sustain behaviours that reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness, and benefit the organisation’s purpose.
Employers can invest in providing support to improve the mental wellbeing of employees through measures such as screening, training, promoting general awareness of mental health issues, and targeted interventions or personal therapy.
How might workplace wellbeing evolve?
Addressing the work determinants of wellbeing has the potential to catalyse a substantial shift in wellbeing across organisations, evolving from a traditional model centred on the individual to one that supports human sustainability, by promoting the collective long-term wellbeing of workers, organisations, and society. The systemic change that may be required to address this issue should be owned by the chief executive officer, the rest of the C-suite, and the board – and their decisions informed by data and meaningful input about the lived experience of their workforce.
Measuring the performance of wellbeing strategies and interventions is key to understanding the impact organisations are having on their workforce and the ROI organisations gain from their wellbeing programmes overall. In the past many have relied on general business performance, mixed with some qualitative feedback from a few colleagues and the odd leadership statement in the press to measure the efficacy and improvements that they have experienced from their wellbeing strategies and programmes of work. It is an organisational imperative to define, track and measure a set of metrics, to understand if a wellbeing strategy and programme of work is working as intended.
We know we’re the best version of ourselves when our needs, interests, and expectations are considered. These all create a sense of belonging – the number one driver of wellbeing.
Businesses must reduce stressors and stop piling solutions onto people who are already overwhelmed. Those that address the causes of poor wellbeing are more likely to create environments for people to thrive in.
Organisations that get this right will have a happy, healthy, productive cohort of employees, who evangelise about the organisation. Attrition, retention, productivity, and brand reputation will all improve.
Deloitte in Jersey provides a programme of wellbeing activities throughout the year for its people. The firm has trained mental health champions and works hard to create an environment that supports everyone’s mental and physical health.
Deloitte in Jersey delivers audit, accountancy, tax, financial and risk advisory and business consulting and transformation services to many leading businesses in the jurisdiction and beyond. Their approach combines insight and innovation from multiple disciplines, with business and industry knowledge, to help their clients excel. Jersey is part of Deloitte’s Islands & Gibraltar team which offers a single audit and advisory offering across the four jurisdictions and is integrated with the wider Deloitte UK and North South Europe network.