Employee engagement and workplace well-being are critical topics for businesses of all sizes. A recent study by Gallup found that disengaged employees cost the US economy $370 billion per year. Additionally, according to NAMI research, poor mental health can cost employers up to $4,600 per employee each year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

This article summarises the key takeaways from a recent workplace wellbeing event, The Watercooler & The Office Event, held on 23-24 April at the Excel, London. The event offered attendees networking opportunities, expert insights, and discussions on these crucial topics. Let’s dive in!

The Business Case for Wellbeing is Clear

Research consistently links strong employee well-being with increased productivity (Harvard Business Review), reduced absenteeism (Hanover Search), and lower staff turnover. A 2023 Deloitte report highlighted that only 63% of workers report good physical well-being, suggesting significant room for improvement. Investing in employee well-being programs is not just the right thing to do; it’s a smart business decision.

A Wide Range of Solutions Exist

The event showcased a diverse range of solutions designed to address employee wellbeing. These solutions ranged from practical benefits like reproductive health insurance to employee survey platforms that gauge sentiment and identify areas for improvement. The Global Wellness Institute estimates the wellness industry to be a $4.5 trillion market, reflecting the growing demand for these solutions. However, organisations need to carefully evaluate these options to ensure they align with their specific workforce needs.

  • Decisions Should Be Data-Driven

Measuring the impact of well-being programs is increasingly important. Without data to track program usage, employee sentiment, and potential health risks, organisations struggle to justify the investment and demonstrate the return on these initiatives. HR departments increasingly turn to people analytics tools to gather this data and make data-driven decisions about wellbeing programs.

  • Organisations Require a Holistic Approach

The future of employee well-being lies in taking a holistic approach that considers all aspects of an employee’s well-being. This includes not just physical health but also mental health, social connections, financial security, and environmental well-being. This aligns with the World Health Organization’s five dimensions of well-being. By addressing all these dimensions, organisations create a more supportive and sustainable work environment.

  • To Secure Buy-In, Leaders Must Cascade Strategy Through Comms

Leaders need to communicate the value proposition to the boardroom to secure investment in well-being programs. Highlighting the connection between wellbeing initiatives and reduced healthcare costs, lower turnover, and increased productivity can resonate with leadership teams focused on organisational outcomes.

  • Organisations Need to Build a Supportive Culture

The event emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of well-being that goes beyond simply providing resources. This involves creating an environment where employees feel supported and empowered to prioritise their well-being. Examples include open communication about mental health, flexible work arrangements to promote work-life balance, and encouraging breaks and time off. Leaders also play a critical role by setting the tone and role-modelling healthy habits. Addressing social factors that can negatively impact wellbeing, like pressure to drink alcohol after work, is also essential.

  • Aim for Continuous Improvement Not Perfection First-Time-Around

Overall, the event reinforced the message that progress, not perfection, is key. Organisations shouldn’t wait for a perfect program before acting. Even small changes, like offering healthy snacks or encouraging walking meetings, can make a positive difference.

The Watercooler Event 2024 showcased a commitment to improving employee wellbeing. By leveraging industry insights, data, and a holistic approach, organisations can create a work environment that fosters a happy, healthy, and productive workforce.

To learn more about The Watercooler Event, visit their website.