How COVID-19 Surfaced the Real Health and Wellbeing Needs of Employees

How COVID-19 Surfaced the Real Health and Wellbeing Needs of Employees

COVID-19 blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives in a way that has left many employees on the verge of burnout. As a result, organizations around the world are making employee health and wellbeing one of their top priorities for 2021.

The proportion of employee comments concerning wellbeing increased 46% in 2020 from the previous year, with over 75% referencing mental and financial health. And even though 96% of companies have provided additional mental health resources, only one in six employees feel supported.

In response to these challenges we’ve analyzed over 150 million employee survey responses and 30 million employee comments, to produce our Global Health and Wellbeing Report 2021.

It’s clear that “business as usual” is no longer enough to meet the health and wellbeing needs of employees. Organizations need to address the current fatigue and anxiety caused by the pandemic, and find a more agile way of providing health and wellbeing support to their people.

Not all employees need the same type of support

The challenge of addressing employee health and wellbeing needs is that they can differ based on any number of variables, including demographics, geographical location, industry, and more.

For example, 17% of comments concerning mental health in the education sector (1 in 6) mentioned some kind of communication tool, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype, which varies considerably from the concerns of those in the transportation sector.

Employees in one industry might need more support adjusting to remote work, whereas others may need support to deal with the increased pressures of their job, or better safeguards to protect their physical health.

Organizational responses vary across the world

Employee perceptions of how committed their organization is to health and wellbeing can also influence levels of employee engagement. Budget is often a consideration. For example, the majority of respondents in Brazil have a budget of less than $100,000 per year, while many in the United States and Mexico have access to over $1 million.

This amount of money available for new health and wellbeing initiatives influences how an organization can respond, but what really matters to employees is the perception that their employer shows a true commitment to addressing their health and wellbeing concerns.

In most cases, this means moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, and introducing specific initiatives based on real-time feedback from employees.

Measuring the impact of new initiatives is still a challenge

There are clear expectations about what kind of business outcomes health and wellbeing should deliver, including reduced healthcare costs, and higher levels of engagement and retention.

The ongoing challenge for many organizations is establishing a clear link between employee needs, individual offerings, and business outcomes. This would not only allow for better decision making, but enable companies with limited resources to be more efficient.

In the United States, 29% of respondents strongly agree that they rely on data, while only 13% say the same in Brazil. The majority of organizations around the world agree that data is important, but one quarter of respondents still positioned their companies in a neutral space.

To learn more about the impact COVID-19 had on employee health and wellbeing in 2020, and how organizations have been responding, download our Global Health and Wellbeing 2021 report now.