Redefining Wellness: Empowering Employees for a New World of Work

For the vast majority of employees, work is not just about a paycheck — it’s a place where they can build their skills and shape their future.

Sean Gladwell/ Getty Images

In today’s socio-economic and political climate, responsibility has increasingly shifted to business owners and CEOs to empower their workforce and provide employees with the care that is necessary to reduce stress and achieve better physical, emotional and financial wellness. It’s driving individuals and business leaders alike to rethink why and how we define “wellness” in the new world of work. In fact, a recent Willis Towers Watson survey reported that 82 percent of employers said they will focus on employee well-being initiatives in the next three years.

In our experience with thousands of small and mid-sized companies, employee well-being requires a holistic approach. Business leaders need to recognize the needs of the whole person — not just the one who comes to work from 9-5. At Zenefits, we believe caring for your workforce goes beyond compensation and basic employee benefits. It includes personal and professional development, learning, community engagement and more.

“Poor-Being” vs. Well-Being

According to the Center for Disease Control, 78 percent of companies already identify stress as a top workforce health risk. This stress epidemic has a negative effect on employee well-being and productivity:

  • Decreased employee productivity: One million U.S. workers miss work every day due to stress.

  • Financial losses: $602 is lost per employee per year because of stress-related absenteeism.

  • Higher turnover rate: 42 percent of employees have changed jobs due to stress.

And, while large businesses are increasingly stepping in with deep pockets and broader resources to attempt to fill the void, offering in-office perks such as chair massages, yoga sessions and farm-to-table cooperatives, small businesses have not always had a meaningful way to help employees cope with the stress epidemic.

Technology is now leveling the playing field and giving small businesses an opportunity to offer personalized resources to their people that go beyond in-office yoga classes and massages to identifying the root causes of stress. That’s why we’ve partnered with Thrive Global to create a completely new approach to small business wellness. Whether they’re returning from family leave or adjusting to the workload of a promotion, our Well-being app provides employees with science-based, actionable strategies and tools that encourage sustainable behavior change. With our embedded recommendation engine, individual users are delivered personalized content, tips and tools at appropriate moments in time, based on other changes to their employee record so that the process is frictionless. As part of this equation, we’ve taken into consideration that business owners have limited time and resources; therefore, offering a self-service tool is crucial to ensuring increased productivity and minimal “distraction” from the actual running of the business.

In fact, better well-being is not just a “nice to have” — it is a prerequisite for business performance. Workforce well-being has a direct impact on the bottom line and there’s more value to be gained from having a human approach to it. When employees are thriving, employers will see increased productivity and performance, higher engagement and morale, and lower turnover rates. All of this means higher profits, lower costs and a better, more healthy work environment for everyone.

For the vast majority of employees, work is not just about a paycheck — it’s a place where they can build their skills and shape their future. While companies of different sizes and scale may have different abilities when it comes to investing along this line, ALL companies need to invest in building a culture that helps engage, nurture and develop their employees and create a high performing workforce.

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