As America's mental health crisis deepens, more employers are taking well-being seriously, and with good reason. According to Gallup's "State of the Global Workplace" report, roughly 7 in 10 employees are struggling or suffering in their overall lives, with negative emotions at an all-time high.
Most organizations are set up to plan for what happens after an employee is at risk for burnout. Far more needs to be done. Leaders need to look at a more holistic view of their employees' health, including mental/emotional health, stress management, and preventative care options for the whole person.
Important questions, therefore, need to be asked: How can companies prevent burnout and become partners with employees in improving their well-being? How can they scale something as personal as well-being? How can they involve employees in the process of their own customized self-care so they're in the driver's seat?
Making well-being a top priority
As you consider your own options, there are several important steps you can take to address these challenges, transform the well-being of your employees, and embed it into the DNA of your company.
1. Survey employees on the state of their well-being.
Start by surveying your employees to screen and measure them on all dimensions of well-being. Gallup identifies six dimensions: emotional, career, social, financial, physical, and community. All six dimensions are interrelated and crucial to well-being and a life well-lived.
2. Put your employees in the driver's seat.
Imagine how much more well-being would improve if employees managed it on their own and on their own terms. Invite them to set their own commitment to self-care and their own frequency for checking in. You can't top-down manage well-being since it comes from inside each of us.
3. Empower your managers to become well-being coaches.
Most managers feel uncertain about what their role should be in their employees' well-being. But conversations about well-being don't have to be awkward. Imagine the loyalty and retention you'll get from your employees if your managers have informed conversations with them about their mental health needs, while respecting their privacy. Managers can still let their employees be the drivers of their own well-being, but can support them on their journey with proactive, open, and compassionate support.
4. Personalize solutions for each employee's well-being needs.
Based on their survey responses, personalize solutions and regular reassessments to measure progress across each of the six dimensions of well-being. This can include developing each of your employees' skills to increase their own constructive behaviors and reduce destructive behaviors.
5. Provide clinical counseling for your employees.
When an employee's well-being needs reach a crisis level that warrants more than self-care, it's time to shift seamlessly to providing professional care. A good approach is to first break the silo between your employee assistance and clinical counseling. Most companies handle these two benefits separately, but they both need to be integrated along a single journey for each employee's well-being.
6. Unite leaders around the goal of improving employee well-being.
Well-being has traditionally been handled by HR, but it should be on the agenda of every leader as a driver of company growth and a catalyst for all company priorities. Communicate the full potential and results of your well-being improvement efforts to your company's leaders, board, and major stakeholders.
7. Reposition well-being as a core organizational growth strategy.
The well-being of your people is too important to relegate to the HR and benefits departments alone. Every company seeking growth should make their employees' well-being integral to their strategy.
With so many companies vulnerable to a well-being crisis, these steps have never been more urgent. But they're not easy. An effective way to scale well-being across an organization is through software programs like eMbrace from Magellan Healthcare, W@W: Wellbeing at Work Live, and others. Whether your employees are currently thriving, struggling, or suffering, your investment in improving their well-being will grow your company from the inside out.