HR person supporting employee wellbeing at work

How HR Leaders Support Wellbeing Success at Work

Dr. Alexis Custard-Mobley
September 14, 2023
August 1, 2023

This blog post was written by Dr. Alexis Custard-Mobley, Counselor and member of the Clinical Advisory Board at Nivati. You can see more of their content on the Nivati platform and on the Nivati blog. If you want to learn more about Nivati, click here.

What Is Employee Wellbeing? 

Today, wellbeing is an important factor that can impact how we move, think, function, and act. Workplace wellbeing encompasses all aspects of working life, including the quality of the work environment, safety, and how employees feel about their work. This can also include their working conditions, the climate at work, and work organization. For years, employee and workplace wellbeing has been connected to productivity and the general wellness of the organization. Wellbeing at work can assist employees with taking care of their mental health and have a large impact on business. 

How Does Productivity Play a Role in Wellbeing? 

Positive employee experiences can increase employee productivity and decrease staff turnover. Studies have shown that when a company addresses wellbeing in the workplace, productivity increases by up to 12% on top of a ROI (return on investment) of 5-12x per dollar/per year. This plays a role in wellbeing by showing that employee wellbeing initiatives do increase revenue as well as employee satisfaction. Think of it this way, we all want to be well, feel well, and enjoy where we spend our time. The average person spends 8-9 hours at work each day or around 40 hours per week. This is time away from friends, family, and entertainment. Going to a job that you like and where it feels like your health is a priority makes all the difference in employee retention, professional development, and keeping the organization a top priority, as most individuals want to protect something that is important to them and that they feel is of value. 

Many employers either already have, are beginning to, or are restructuring employee wellbeing plans for employees built into their compensation packages when starting a new job or as a perk for working at the company. Some companies offer on-demand fitness, mindfulness, and nutrition, while others offer a free or discounted membership. Some offer meditation apps, yoga on-site, free counseling, work-from-home schedules, hybrid schedules, or paid humanitarian volunteer days. These are all significant steps in the right direction for employee wellbeing. In 2019 the pandemic shifted the way employees think, act, and move, and for some, it awakened what they already knew as far as what they need to do in their lives and how work and life fit into that. In an HRDirector article CEO and Co-founder of Gympass insightfully said: “The concept of work-life balance is dead. It’s a 50-year-old term that has been rendered completely outdated because it assumes that work and life are separate things. Today, we know that’s not true. We can’t ignore the impact of work, and its expansion outside the walls of physical office space, on our personal lives.”  

Questions to Consider as You Build, Revamp, or Revive Your Wellbeing Benefits: 

It's often a good idea as an individual to sit with your thoughts and think about the following: 

  • What is it that I would want in a job? 
  • What is it that a stranger would want or someone close to me would want in a job? 
  • What type of wellbeing perks would improve my employee retention? 

On the other hand, some questions to think about if you’re an HR Leader or CEO would be: 

  • What perks or employee wellbeing benefits am I or the company providing employees? How do these benefits benefit the employees? 
  • Are the benefits I’m providing beneficial to the employees, or do they benefit me or the company more…Where is the balance? 
  • What perks for employee wellbeing can I implement that sets us apart from other companies? 
  • Do I know what the employees want? 

What Do Some Statistics Say About Mental Health & Wellbeing?

Increasing from 45 billion a year to 56 billion per year, the cost to employers of employees with poor mental health and poor wellbeing is staggering. Employees are burned out and overwhelmed with work responsibilities and a lack of compensation that they feel needs to be more representative of their workload. A study from Gallup reported that engaged employees increase company profit by 23% compared to unhappy employees. The report also discovered that employees who exercised consistently were more likely to have better attendance at work. The report showed that those who did not show up for work were 27% lower for the employees who exercised and practiced good health habits by exercising consistently vs. those who did not. Employees with robust eating habits were more likely to have higher job performance; employees who exercised at least three times weekly were 15% more likely to have greater job performance. Based on a survey sample of 9,000 employees, 83% of employees feel their wellbeing is just as important as their salary. These findings show the importance of employers investing in their employees' wellbeing.

What are Human Resource Leaders? 

Human Resource (HR) Leaders: 

  • Mediate between employees and upper management. 
  • Promote awareness and are advocates for the business and employees. 
  • Direct all levels of the organization through change and periods of transition. 
  • Serve as consultants to the people and leaders within the company concerning human resources challenges. 
  • Provide operational value, assist with business needs, and help carry out the company's vision. 

HR Leaders cover a lot of ground tasks but are essentially a resource for employees at the company. Some may assist with education on benefits within the company, help with disciplinary actions, provide advice within their scope of knowledge, be a listening ear for stressful workdays, and so much more. Many individuals fear HR and associate HR with being in trouble; however, they are there for more than disciplinary things. They are a resource. It’s important to understand some of what HR Leaders do and their role within your organization so that you can see how they can help. HR Leaders play a big role in supporting well-being because they are the core of the company that helps everyone stay on track. HR Leaders must create opportunities for wellbeing to help decrease retention, maintain employee satisfaction and company satisfaction, and stay within compliance. 

HR Leaders help to build a flexible workforce in many ways, including: 

  • Creating goal-setting policies and procedures. 
  • Utilizing data to help with company and employee decision-making. 
  • Developing trainings and professional development opportunities to help employees grow inside and outside the organization. 

When HR is aligned with the company goals, employees are typically more motivated, which increases productivity and lucrativeness for the company. To help drive success, the company needs to be aligned, engaged, adaptable, and accountable. These are big responsibilities that keep the company running smoothly. A company must be aligned with the goals set to help set employees up for success. Gartner's research indicated that when goals are aligned within the organization and with the employee's needs, employee performance rises by up to 22%. The HR Leaders' role is to help ensure alignment around goals, the expectations surrounding the goals, and provide employees a space to ask questions to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Next, accountability is important as you can have all the tools necessary, but if you do not utilize them correctly, it is fighting against the vision and wasting time. This requires managers and HR Leaders to give and enforce regular feedback so that everyone is held accountable for their work performance. There should not be a time when an employee is surprised that they are not meeting their goals or expectations. When a surprise happens, it often means that communication may not be clear. Find ways to measure goals through both qualitative and quantitative measurements to see what is working for employees and the business, as well as what may not be working. Sometimes it is not about reprimanding as much as it is about coaching moments and growth. 

Another factor to consider is employee engagement, which directly relates to high performance for better work environments and profitability. This can be accomplished through pulse surveys, which are engagement surveys sent to everyone within the company to collect anonymous feedback to help make the company culture better. Listen to your people; they know what works and does not work, and often they may have some answers to the issue since they are working on the front lines. 

Lastly, adaptability is beneficial because working toward Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) has been shown to be effective in building culture and a thriving organization. In a survey by McKinsey & Company, 50% of leaders stated that they are struggling at work due to a lack of skills within an area and felt that training on those skills would help fix the issue. However, only 13% of employees felt they could carry out that initiative. 

HR Leaders have a large role in helping to support wellbeing and creating opportunities by staying up to date on HR laws and practices, helping to develop and maintain an environment in which employees want to stay, creating an environment that attracts top talent, and making sure that employees are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. These efforts also ensure the company is health as a whole. Answers to the question “How can the company be better?” are typically in the surveys, the staff, and maybe even candidates that can come into the organization with a fresh set of eyes and perspective. Altogether, mental, physical, and emotionally healthy employees are essential for employee retention. 

Dr. Alexis Custard-Mobley
Dr. Alexis Custard-Mobley
Dr. Alexis Custard-Mobley is the a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, and Acudetox Specialist. She has her Doctorate degree in Sport and Performance Psychology. She is also a content creator and board member for Nivati. She also works in operations and is passionate about data, training, educating, and learning. Her 2-in-1 children's book is a passion project she created in her Master's program that educates youth and families on different mental illnesses. She has worked with a vast majority of populations and feels that everyone has the power to change if they desire and with the right resources.