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Why invest in employee wellbeing?

Your employees might be surviving, but are they thriving?

The health of our workforce is in crisis. The UK job market is currently in its tightest state in decades, making it challenging for businesses to attract and retain top talent. Simultaneously, the pandemic has catapulted workplace mental health into the limelight, exposing two worrying truths:

  1. Employees don’t currently have the skills to proactively take care of their wellbeing.
  2. Most organisations aren’t supporting them in the right ways to do so.

At Ivy House, we fully believe in taking a proactive and deeply personal approach to wellbeing. One that addresses the root of the issues at play, rather than plastering over them. In this article, we will explore exactly why wellbeing should be a priority for every leader and organisation, and we will take a look at the shocking potential cost of ignoring it.

Why employee wellbeing is important

To put it simply, thriving employees are the backbone of a successful organisation. Their presence and impact are synonymous with improved financial performance and are key to any organisation keeping their competitive edge: because when employees feel well-supported, their engagement, creativity, output and loyalty grow.

The impact of employee wellbeing goes beyond the office walls. It extends into the personal lives of your team members, which has a huge influence on how they show up to work each day – by either supporting high performance or detracting from it. That is why investing in employee wellbeing isn’t just a feel-good gesture; it’s a strategic move that can significantly boost your bottom line.

The wellbeing crisis

The sad truth is, the majority of our workforce is not thriving – they are surviving. A new report from Deloitte found that around half of employees ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel exhausted (52%) or stressed (49%) at the end of a work week. A third also reported feeling lonely or depressed. That is 1 in 3 of our workforce, across the US, UK, Canada and Australia, ending their week feeling depressed – which is an outrageous, tragic and hugely counterproductive number.

Leading development expert Brene Brown suggests that, “the increased attention on workplace mental health that has grown out of the pandemic provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to instigate a radical new approach”, and we agree. This unique moment in history offers businesses the chance to redefine their approach to employee wellbeing in a radical, transformative way. The businesses that do so will reap the rewards: as their people thrive, so will their business.

However, while it’s easy to track the financial returns of your investments, it’s not as straightforward to quantify the Return on Investment (ROI) of employee wellbeing initiatives. So how can we demonstrate the value?

The value of investing in employee wellbeing

The true value of investing in employee wellbeing is often hidden beneath the surface, but if businesses embrace the right initiatives, the returns can be monumental. Positive returns from improved productivity, ability to attract investment and enhanced talent attraction and retention, coupled with cost savings from lower attrition, absenteeism, healthcare costs and presenteeism, can unlock a cumulative value across the UK that ranges from £130 billion to a staggering £370 billion, equivalent to £4,000 to £12,000 per employee.

The size of this prize is colossal, and it is too significant to delay taking genuine, transformative action.

How to properly support employee wellbeing

If you are a leader, it may shock you to hear that your employees’ wellbeing is probably worse than you think. In fact, Deloitte’s 2023 Wellbeing at Work survey found that while 77% of executives believed their workforce’s mental health had improved in the last year, only 33% of employees felt that it had, exposing a huge disconnect in how leaders perceive their employees’ wellbeing levels.
The question we should be asking is, how can this be the case when it is estimated that nine in ten organisations are offering some form of wellbeing programme?

The problem here is not a lack of initiatives – it is that most initiatives are not shifting the dial when it comes to outcomes. For example, the all-too-common list of employee perks and benefits, masquerading as a wellbeing initiatives, are more often ‘indulgent bribes to make up for the demanding expectations’ according to one employee. These types of initiatives are attractive to employers because they appear shiny exciting, create the perception of taking action, and require minimal investment when it comes to time and energy. However, the research shows that they are not working.

On a more positive note, Deloitte reports that around 84% of employees are highly motivated to improve their own physical and mental wellbeing. However, many of them are not making progress in these areas, and for the majority, work is taking far more of a toll on their wellbeing than it is positively impacting them.

The truth is, employees are crying out for a change, yet they do not have the right tools or support to make it happen. The majority do not have the skills to start living in a way that mitigates these obstacles, allowing them to prioritise their wellbeing. That is why, for an organisation to truly support their employees, the most generous gift they can provide is the opportunity to learn these skills. That way, their employees will be fully empowered to take proactive ownership of their wellbeing.

It is clear how much value good employee wellbeing brings to an organisation. To understand more about exactly how your organisation can support its employees to the fullest extent – thereby creating a tribe of thriving, sustainable high performers – come along to our event, on January 25th, where we will be bringing together wellbeing experts, to share their wisdom.

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