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What is employee well-being and why is it important?

Employee well-being is essential for companies to thrive. Learn how it impacts your business and strategies to prioritize well-being in the workplace.

Door Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Laatst gewijzigd April 16, 2024

Focusing on employee well-being can increase team retention rates, boost productivity, and foster a better customer experience (CX).

We’ll explore how your organization can better understand employee well-being, implement initiatives to promote health, and collect data on the process to clearly comprehend what is succeeding.

Get started and provide a comprehensive employee experience (EX) that positively impacts your customers, too.

More in this guide:

What is employee well-being?

Employee well-being refers to the holistic state of an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health at work. It encompasses factors like job satisfaction, stress levels, and work-life balance. Employee well-being is increasingly recognized as a crucial component of workplace productivity and employee retention.

Many workplace aspects can affect an employee’s well-being, including company culture, management, work schedules, benefits, perks, and compensation. Another common component of employee well-being is work-life balance, which can be influenced by factors outside of work.

Why is the well-being of employees important?

An illustration of a person meditating accompanies a graphic outlining five reasons why employee well-being is important.

Beyond showcasing genuine care for the happiness of your workforce, employee well-being is paramount because it can positively or negatively affect a business. Here are five reasons you should consider investing in the well-being of your employees and, by extension, your overall organization.

Increases employee retention

Satisfied employees don’t vacate roles as quickly as those who are unsatisfied. Individuals who feel happy in their current role, with a healthy work-life balance, advancement opportunities, and a positive work culture, are more likely to stay with their employer. For businesses, this increased employee retention can also mitigate the need for extra training and onboarding costs for new employees.

Boosts employee productivity and motivation

Focusing on employee well-being can lead to increased motivation and productivity. There is a reason work songs were a widespread phenomenon at one point—they boosted employee morale and increased production rates.

You don’t need a catchy tune in your workplace, though. Instead, focus on implementing well-being initiatives that increase satisfaction and motivate employees.

Provides a better customer experience

Well-being doesn’t stop with employees—it can also have a far-reaching effect on customers. Happy employees bring their attitude to the work environment, which can improve the customer experience. Take note that AI is becoming a big contributor to this.

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024, 70 percent of CX leaders plan to integrate generative AI into many of their touchpoints within the next two years. AI-powered bots for customer support can reduce the workload and stress for human agents, improving overall well-being in the workplace. The resulting benefit is a better customer experience, as agents have a better outlook from feeling less overwhelmed by too many tasks.

If you need help figuring out where to start, consider your employees’ wellness needs and map your employee experience journey for insight. As your employees grow, so will your business’s customer satisfaction rates.

Enhances brand reputation

Well-being can enhance a brand’s reputation, making it more appealing to potential new team members, clients, and customers. According to Jobvite, businesses with strong company values are more likely to attract top talent.

Customers are also sensitive to how brands treat employees, with most preferring to do business with companies they feel have positive, humane core values.

Improves employee satisfaction and engagement

Well-being initiatives can improve employee satisfaction and engagement. When employees are more engaged at work, they are more likely to contribute to a healthy work culture. A culture with communication and respect helps employees feel more valued and promotes better team collaboration.

When employees are satisfied and engaged, you will see their best work.

The 5 pillars of employee well-being

The five pillars of employee well-being can be good guidelines for establishing a healthy and supportive workplace.

  1. Career well-being focuses on employees’ ability to grow and advance in their careers. You might provide training programs or other resources to help employees reach their goals.
  2. Social well-being emphasizes the importance of the relationships between people in a workplace. Encourage team-building exercises or social gatherings to help employees bond.
  3. Financial well-being refers to an employee’s economic stability. Offer competitive salaries and benefits to support your staff’s well-being.
  4. Physical well-being revolves around an employee’s physical health. Consider including additional healthcare benefits or offering nutritious snacks in the breakroom.
  5. Emotional well-being is all about your employees’ mental health. You might allow time for mindfulness programs and provide more flexible working conditions.

By better understanding the five pillars, teams can brainstorm and focus on areas that contribute to employee mental and physical health.

How to measure the well-being of employees

Five icons represent five ways to measure employee well-being.

You can measure employee well-being over time using proper methods and available software tools. You may also opt for direct feedback from your workforce. Here are a few tactics you can use to measure the well-being of employees.

Use reporting and analytics tools

Reporting and analytics tools can help businesses summarize large amounts of employee data to gain a deeper understanding of well-being. You can visualize metrics, such as variations in productivity, to identify correlations between employee initiatives and recent changes.

For instance, analytics tools can visualize employee vacation days or sick leave. If you can see how often employees submit these requests, you can get a better sense of their work-life balance.

Metrics can also provide insights into the employee experience. If your IT or HR departments receive recurring ticket requests, for example, that may indicate your workforce is encountering friction with a poor tech stack or unclear workplace policies.

Send out employee satisfaction surveys

Employee satisfaction surveys—and that measure employee engagement—are a great way to measure your employees’ well-being in the workplace.

Businesses can turn collected data into action by continuing effective initiatives or discontinuing those deemed ineffective. Continuing from our previous IT and HR ticketing example, sending out a satisfaction survey after resolving a ticket may be beneficial to understanding how supported employees feel.

A business should carry on with a well-being initiative if positive metrics are observed, such as increased productivity or decreased employee turnover. Otherwise, decision-makers should consider investing in a different wellness program that may have a better impact.

Collect employee feedback

Speaking to your employees can give you the most detailed feedback. Setting up regular one-on-one meetings between staff and their managers is a good option for qualitative data collection. However, you must cultivate a safe space where team members can share ideas and opinions openly. It’s also important to ensure employees feel comfortable contacting HR to provide feedback when necessary.

Alternatively, you can send anonymous surveys. Employees may feel more comfortable giving honest answers, so you can receive genuine responses.

Analyze employee turnover

If your business is experiencing high employee turnover, it may indicate that you need to improve employee well-being initiatives. Employees tend to stay with companies when their well-being is positive, so turnover can be the alarm that signals something is wrong.

As you implement well-being initiatives, monitor employee turnover by comparing the average employee retention time between onboarding and offboarding. If you improve well-being, the average employee retention time should increase.

You can also leverage AI to create a better employee experience. For example, with predictive analytics, HR teams can use AI to identify agent burnout and address the issue with proactive support and prevent turnover.

Examine employee engagement

Employee engagement rates are bound to decrease if workplace well-being is struggling. Gathering employee motivational level metrics—such as how often they participate in optional culture initiatives or their willingness to take on another task—is an excellent way to understand their mindset and prevent burnout.

Another common sign that employee engagement is suffering is increased absenteeism, which could indicate a lack of motivation to work. An employee engagement platform can help you tackle absenteeism and low engagement rates. This tool is designed to enhance the employee experience while increasing organizational efficiency.

Employee Experience Trends Report 2024

Learn how companies are transforming the workplace to better support hybrid work, increase employee productivity, and more.

How to improve well-being in the workplace

Six icons represent ways to improve well-being in the workplace.

There are various ways to improve well-being in the workplace, but not all employees react the same to initiatives. You can enact common ideas within your workplace to get started on the right track.

Many employees highly value flexible working environments and access to wellness programs. Ensuring your employees have a modern HR experience can be another supporting factor.

Enable flexible work environments

Modern workplaces must learn to work with employees to develop more flexible yet productive schedules. According to the Zendesk Employee Experience Trends Report 2024, 87 percent of EX leaders believe that providing flexible work schedules is key to enhancing employee productivity.

You can implement core hours, where employees must be available at set times but can opt to come into or leave the office at varying times. You can also test remote work or hybrid schedules, which could benefit parents or long-distance commuters.

Create a modern HR experience

Any barriers frustrate employees when they attempt to communicate with HR or internal customer service. Modernize your employee experience by utilizing AI-powered HR help desk software that streamlines collaboration between your employees and the HR team. Enable open communication and transform how your team works with 21st-century HR help desk features, including:

  • An omnichannel ticketing system that enables employees to contact HR on modern messaging channels like Slack

  • Self-service solutions, such as internal knowledge bases

  • Reporting and analytics tools to measure support operations

  • Integrations with third-party solutions, such as payroll

  • AI-powered bots and automated workflows

Invest in employee development

Investing in development is crucial because employees greatly value career advancement. You can provide on-the-job training programs, such as lunch-and-learns, or offer incentives for external continuous learning.

Providing one-on-one mentoring opportunities from within the company is another excellent way to support and help advance your workforce. If resources permit, you can consider individual development plans for employees to personalize growth opportunities. If you don’t know where to start, tools like Zendesk QA can highlight coaching opportunities and offer insights to improve service quality.

Empower employees with the right tools

In a modern work environment, employees need the right tools to get work done efficiently. Utilizing outdated solutions can cause excess friction, affecting employees and decreasing their overall well-being.

The Zendesk Employee Experience Trends Report 2024 found that over 30 percent of EX leaders note overcoming challenges in remote software troubleshooting and support as a significant issue. So, it’s critical to invest in the right tools so employees are empowered to do their best work rather than struggle with overly complex, dated interfaces.

Provide access to wellness programs and resources

Providing access to wellness programs and resources can positively impact employee well-being. At-will programs allow employees to pick and choose the solutions that work best for them.

You may consider including employee mental health programs, activities to reduce workplace stress, and access to fitness classes.

Implementing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) is another excellent way to support well-being. EAPs can give employees access to health counseling, financial services, and legal assistance when they need it. Additionally, your businesses can include this information within a knowledge base so employees can see it at any time.

Cultivate a positive culture and environment

We all want to work in a positive work environment, and the best way to begin making a difference is from the top down. Managers and executives must lead by example to help promote a healthy company culture that impacts employees. Management teams should discuss and then showcase the values they find most significant.

Fostering and maintaining effective communication is also critical for healthy work environments. Employees should feel they can express their ideas and feedback without concern. Leadership seminars promoting active listening and constructive criticism are excellent starting points for workplaces where management teams may not yet possess the desired skill sets.

Frequently asked questions

Prioritize employee well-being today

Employee experience directly impacts the customer service quality employees deliver—87 percent of respondents acknowledge this in the recent Zendesk Employee Experience Trends Report. That means businesses of all sizes and across industries should prioritize employee well-being. Once an organization understands the components of employee well-being, it can implement initiatives and monitor them to ensure success. Learn more about the importance of this in the Zendesk EX Trends Report 2024.

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