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3 workplace wellness trends HR professionals ought to know

By October 31, 2019 November 12th, 2019 No Comments

Will 2020 be the start of a watershed decade for workplace wellness?

All the evidence points that way and there’s no doubt that workplace wellness is a fast-growing trend. Businesses are getting better at understanding how they can play an influential role in helping employees take better care of their health and wellbeing – both physical and mental.  In essence, they are looking at ways to protect their most valuable asset – their people. Figures from the Society for Human Resource Management show that 75% of employers now embrace wellness programmes in some form.  Feedback from employees is also positive – 79% of employees believe that wellness programs have a positive impact on their health. Whilst 77% say initiatives positively impact productivity and performance. 

With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at 3 trends that are shaping the future of workplace wellness    

Achieving a better work / life balance

A healthy work / life balance is no longer just an aspiration among UK workers. Workers are increasingly valuing flexible working patterns that fit with personal and family commitments and lifestyles. This is more than a long-term trend. Businesses that offer this flexibility are becoming attractive and happier places to work.  It’s at the top end of employee benefit wish lists too. Know Your Money surveyed 2,000 UK adults in full or part-time employment and. 70% of respondents said that flexible working was very important to their overall job satisfaction. 49% of workers stated they would be prepared to take a pay cut to be able to work a four day week. 

However, there is still a long way to go when it comes to the readiness of UK employers to accommodate flexible working requests. Figures from CIPD show that 68% of UK workers would like to work flexibly in a way that is not currently being met. 46% of respondents in the Know Your Money survey say that they are not given the flexibility they want. 

Work / life balance is becoming a major factor in the battle to recruitment and retain the best talent. Research by Working Families found that 11% of parents have turned down either a job or promotion because of a lack of a good work / life balance.  Meanwhile, Hays Salary and Recruiting Trends 2019 guide discovered that after salary, 30% of employees rated work / life balance, including flexible working opportunities as the most important factor when considering a new job. 

Emotional wellness

Research by Vitality into Britain’s Healthiest Workplace found that 34% of workers felt unwell due to work-related stress. Employee burnout is something that HR professionals are seeing too.  Westfield Health in its quarterly Wellbeing Index reported that 57% of HR leaders say they noticed staff suffering from burnout over the summer.

Burnout is a problem that can affect all generations but it is becoming a major issue for Millennials. Modern Health co-founder Erica Johnson reports that seven in 10 Millennials now suffer from emotional burnout in some way. Johnson told Forbes: “Millennials are now the biggest sector of the workforce. They also have higher rates of depression than any generation before them.”  This is a challenge for employers to work out how to make positive workplace interventions to improve emotional wellness. As well as better understand how negative cultures such as presenteeism, long hours and overworking are impacting their employees’ mental health. It’s also an opportunity to encourage employees to ask for help when they need it.

And sleep

Smart businesses are looking at ways to encourage a sleep-first culture. As well as formalising policies to encourage colleagues to switch off and discourage working out of hours. The Vitality research discovered that 37.2% of workers slept for less than 7 hours a night. Also, just under half of respondents (45%) reported that they had problem with the quality of their sleep. 

Anybody (and this means pretty much everybody) that has gone into work after a poor night’s sleep knows how this impacts your mood, concentration, energy levels and performance. It can also impact health and safety and increase the risk of injury. Sustained sleep deprivation can lead to depression and anxiety and burnout. Progressive businesses are putting sleep on the workplace wellness agenda too.

If you are rethinking how your business can make positive interventions to improve employee wellness, let’s talk to see how we can help.