HR divisions in companies and corporate offices have come a long way in their efforts to focus on employee wellbeing since the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to India Today, since the onset of the pandemic, around 42% of employees reported a drastic decline in their mental health and work-life balance.
The sudden shift to work-from-home, combined with the worry and stress caused by uncertainty, led to a significant increase in anxiety, depression and employee burnout.
Employees who were not required to work from home or were frontline workers faced the additional stress of surviving the health crisis. Their caregiving responsibilities forced them to continue risking their lives and quickly adapt to changing policies and rules.
This compelled HR divisions across the globe to address the issue as soon as possible and rightly so. Since then, companies and organizations have been coming up with creative ways to manage employee wellbeing in 2023.
If you are looking for ways to address the issues impacting your employees' physical, emotional, and mental health due to isolation and a lack of social interaction, this guide is for you.
Why Should HR Focus on Employee Wellbeing in 2023
Things aren't going to get any easier, as the global recession of 2023 is almost here. The world's three major economies, namely, the US, China, and the EU, have already taken a hit and are slowing down gradually. By the end of the year, the Guardian warns that one-third of the world economy is expected to be in recession.
Since global economies are interconnected through a variety of aspects like trade, import and export agreements, financial markets and investments, the impending recession of 2023 will have a ripple effect, and unquestionably impact India.
India Today reports that by the end of 2023, India may experience an economic output loss of 7.8%. Consequently, employees will face major economic issues like loss of employment, financial hardships and increased debts.
As an HR manager, you must ensure your employees have enough resources and support to face these troubling times. Companies and employers need a more holistic approach to ensure that employees feel protected, valued and productive.
Benefits of Employee Wellbeing in 2023
With proper implementation and evaluation of wellbeing initiatives, HR departments can strive to satisfy an increasingly aware workforce that is demanding more holistic mental and emotional wellness initiatives.
HRs can do this by employing numerous technological advancement and innovative solutions—the by-products of our digitally-driven lives—to maximise the benefits of employee wellbeing, some of which are:
- Increased productivity and engagement
- High job satisfaction
- Reduced absenteeism
- Robust and active physical, mental and emotional health
- Enhanced social interaction and communication
- Increased physical and emotional resilience to adversities
Top 5 employee wellbeing initiatives for 2023
1. Increase adoption of wellbeing practices
Your initiatives will be more successful if your employees internally understand the need to adopt mental and emotional wellbeing practices. They should not feel ashamed talking about mental health issues within themselves and the employer. This can only be achieved by creating a safe space for them and normalizing the discussions regarding mental health.
Such small changes and initiatives will go a long way in motivating them to foster an emotionally healthy work environment for themselves and their peers.
A variety of techniques like leadership support, education and training, creating a culture of wellness, internal communication campaigns, engagement programs, monetary incentives, employee review and feedback can be employed to improve awareness, reception and adoption.
2. Physical and mental wellbeing practices
Before providing more focused and absolute resources to your employers for facing the challenges of 2023, start with the basics.
Physical and mental wellbeing practices can go a long way in creating a productive and active workforce. They can help employees manage stress, anxiety and depression and improve their overall wellbeing.
Access to regular physical and mental wellbeing activities can be included in Employee Assistance Programs. These programs can include a wide range of activities like yoga, guided meditation, tai chi, regular workout sessions and so on.
According to Science Daily, around 89% of patients report feeling relief from chronic pains after practising yoga regularly. Such mindful practices thus nurture the well-rounded and holistic wellbeing of employees.
Some of the advantages of yoga, guided meditation and regular workout sessions are as follows:
- Increased flexibility and strength
- Calmness and relaxation
- Increased focus, concentration, and attention
- Improvement in cardiovascular health
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases
You can either provide these facilities to employees on the office campus or through membership cards for studios/gyms/fitness centres of their liking.
In-house counselling and therapy can be beneficial in ensuring optimum mental and emotional wellbeing. Traditionally, such activities are curative in their approach. However, it’s important that employees are encouraged to use these services as preventive steps.
3. Hybrid working environment
Many employees went to great lengths to adapt to working from home during the pandemic. The loss of autonomy and flexibility in returning to in-person work has proven difficult for some. According to CNBC, around 61% still prefer working from home as opposed to going to the office.
As a solution, a hybrid working environment can allow employees to balance work and personal life while taking care of their mental and physical wellbeing. Wherever possible, employees can be given a choice between in-person working and remote working.
Additionally, in-person work can be made more effective through agile solutions and techniques such as quick and efficient communication channels, ergonomic desks, and sufficient technological support, like voice-to-text tools, smart personal assistants, and smart email categorisations.
These transformative capabilities will allow employees to save time, increase productivity, and keep themselves creatively engaged.
4. Financial literacy and resources
To fight inflation, banks across the world are increasing their interest rates. Forbes reports since March 2022, the interest rates have risen by 3.5% and will continue to do so. Consequently, costs of services like healthcare, insurance policies and essentials are on the rise.
Such challenging financial circumstances must be handled by well-informed and effective decision-making. Unfortunately, not all employees will have the right skill set to understand the evolving patterns of saving, budgeting, and investing. This can lead to emotional distress among them.
This is where the HR can help them by placing adequate focus on financial literacy and resources for their employees.
You can organise seminars/webinars, workshops and training sessions to equip your employees with sufficient finance management skills and resources. Additionally, financial literacy can help your employees avoid financial scams and predatory lending practices.
5. Employee and family health insurance
Considering the unfortunate events of the global pandemic, you shouldn't think twice about protecting your employees and their families from financial strain during medical and health crises.
Health insurance plans can be combined with preventive wellness programs to provide employees and their families with more holistic and efficient healthcare management opportunities. Annual diagnostic examinations can play a big role in resolving any potential health risks and issues and reducing health-related anxieties among the employees.
In 2023, investing in your employees' mental, emotional and physical wellbeing is of utmost importance. As an HR manager, you can use this employee wellbeing guidebook to access and plan more such initiatives for your employees.
For the initiatives to succeed and have the desired impact, it is crucial to conduct regular studies and be aware of the needs of your employees. Only then will you be able to cultivate strong internal adaptability and provide them with a healthy, professional and productive environment.
As an early adapter of these wellbeing initiatives, you will pave the way for others to follow and benefit their employees as well. Interested in building a culture of wellness at your organisation? Manah Wellness, India’s leading employee engagement and wellbeing services provider, can support you with personalised mental health wellness and professional growth programs for your employers. Get in touch with our expert team to learn more.