Is employee well-being at the heart of engagement?

Author Denise Harmer
March 21, 2023

Is employee well-being at the core of workforce engagement in today’s HR landscape?

Pre-pandemic, it was only businesses with a strong focus on their employees’ welfare that offered these nice-to-have benefits. Even then, the offerings were things such as wellness lectures or a gym membership. But in a very short period of time, with the convergence of so many issues affecting people’s mental, physical, and financial health, well-being has transformed from a trendy but non-essential benefit to something that should be at the centre of an HR department’s people strategy and a key area of attention for all business leaders.

Despite the obvious importance of workplace wellness, there is clearly space for improvement. HR executives can make their organisation stand out from the competition by providing great and pertinent physical, emotional, and financial well-being support because so few workers believe they have the support they need at work. In the pandemic aftermath of stress, burnout, and financial strain, any amount of wellness help, advice, and practise, such as free resources or benefits that strengthen the pillars of well-being, can only help unravel these complex and frequently interconnected challenges and contribute to the creation of a workforce that is stronger, happier, and more resilient.

The good news is that leaders can influence people within quadrants, influencing stayers and detractors positively and fostering go-getter loyalty to build an organisation full of ambassadors. By communicating with employees and tying their duties back to the organisation’s objective, keeping an ear to the ground and monitoring their morale, and implementing effective, timely people programmes, managers in the quadrant of employee engagement can become crucial links in the engagement chain.

The key point here is don’t let it get to a point where staff have become disengaged.

When things aren’t going well, people can lose sight of the reasons they go to work or why they liked their position in the first place. Some workers use disengagement as a wake-up call to re-evaluate their priorities for balance, perhaps by changing jobs, taking time off, or taking a leave of absence. But, in most cases, by asking some of the right questions, managers could re-engage employees who are merely idling or lost. Ignoring this chance increases the likelihood that employees will leave.

In a recent report by Gartner, 60% of Australian employees admitted that cost of living stresses are negatively impacting their work, and, that HR Managers are finding it challenging to support the changing needs of their employees. While not every company can afford double-digit pay increases to help employees keep up with inflation, there are effective levers at your disposal to support employees.

Gartner also revealed that 69% of Australian employees agree their work well-being would improve if they were simply thanked more for their hard work. And 30% report they are no longer going above and beyond their specific responsibilities and/or schedule. Many employees are wanting their employer to increase their investment in employee reward and recognition, and to be recognized for their work.

For businesses, this can include providing simple ways to:

  • Reward employees for their contributions
  • Send thanks or kudos to employees and colleagues for great work
  • Encourage fun or work-related competitions and challenges
  • Acknowledge and encourage expected behaviours at work, such as following important safety protocols

Whilst these things seem simple, they are important and should already be happening in the workplace.

HR leaders have enough on their plate so it begs the question, why aren’t leaders or managers doing or thinking about these basic things?

It’s no exaggeration to say that work life has changed dramatically over the last several years. The lasting impact of the pandemic, remote work, and the cost of living pressures have shifted our thinking in significant ways. Employees now expect a more flexible work environment, more help with their financial life, and more honesty about – and support for – well-being issues.

We have come a long way in the way we view work and the employer-employee relationship has changed. In the face of the pervasive chaos and anxiety many employees are grappling with today, wise HR leaders are called upon to get ahead of these changes before your workforce quietly – or even actively – disengages from your mission and you find yourselves without effective teams to fulfil it.

To discuss this topic or others, please reach out to your local Frazer Jones consultant, we are always here to help.

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