In a post-COVID world, it’s impossible to exist in the People Operations space without paying attention to employee wellness. Productivity, growth, job satisfaction, retention, and other essential business metrics are inextricably linked to the wellbeing of a company’s workforce.
We’ve taken a look at the statistical data from all sides to see what employers are doing to promote wellness, and what employees need.
What is Employee Wellness?
Employee wellness is a construct that refers to employees’ wellbeing and health in the workplace. Employee wellness programs encompass means to support physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and other factors that contribute to a positive work environment. Corporate wellness programs are typically included in an organization’s employee benefits package
While wellness is not a new concept, the approaches to employee health and wellness are fast-evolving as the ramifications of the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to echo across business trends. The latest employee wellness statistics featured in this article will help business leaders and employees alike understand the current trends and respond accordingly.
Wellness in the Workplace is Booming
- Roughly half (51%) of employers with 50+ employees offer some type of wellness program. Larger employers are more likely to provide wellness initiatives as a way to strategically curb healthcare and retention costs since they tend to have more financial resources to make long-range investments.
- As an industry, workplace wellness is booming after a five-year dip. In the years leading up to 2022, this sector saw a 1.3% annual decrease in revenue.
- However, 2022 brought with it a 1.4% uptick to reach $17.5 billion.
- 2023 wellness revenue is expected to rise to $18.2 billion.
The Cost and Uptake of Employee Wellness
- Employers can see workplace wellness programs as a way to mitigate rising employee healthcare costs. Total employee healthcare costs are expected to go up 7% for current health plans.
- Wellness plans that prioritize prevention and early action can potentially save employers money in the long and short term. For those worried about profitability, industry reports show a $1.47 return on investment for every dollar spent on corporate wellness initiatives.
Wellness programs can come in all shapes and sizes, but a few common denominators exist amongst companies’ offerings.
A 2022 study from the International Foundation of Employee Benefits found that employee assistance programs (EAPs) are offered by 90% of employers.
Other support resources that were popular amongst employers included:
- Mental health services, provided by 86% of employers
- Substance abuse disorder benefits, offered by 67% of employers
- Mental health mobile apps, for which 41% of employers offer access; and
- Educational sessions held at the workplace in the case of 40% of surveyed employers.
Employers also use incentives to encourage participation. Over 40% of organizations surveyed use gift cards and/or other employee benefits insurance perks like reduced premiums.
Workers’ Response to Employee Wellness Efforts
Workers are interested in improving their financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
- The vast majority of employees care about wellness. In a study from Deloitte, 91% of respondents shared that they have goals for their wellbeing.
- Moreover, 75% of employees and 89% of C-suite executives surveyed reported that improving their wellbeing is a top priority for them.
- That same report found that 68% of employees and 81% of C-suite executives say that working on their wellbeing is more important than advancing their careers.
Employees are concerned about wellness in every sense of the word. When asked about top priorities, over 75% of respondents cited the following concerns: “not living above my means or staying within my means,” “eating healthy,” “Effectively managing or balancing my work and personal commitments,” and “getting enough exercise.”
Wellness Statistics in the US and Abroad
People leaders and benefits managers face no easy task in improving the wellbeing of their workforces.
- A 2022 global report from Gallup shows that only 33% of employees are “thriving” in their wellbeing.
- 44% of employees shared that they experienced “a lot” of stress in the previous day; for worry, 40%.
At a global level, employee engagement and wellbeing are also quite low.
- Only 21% of international employees state that they are engaged at work, and roughly a third of employees report that they are thriving in their overall wellbeing.
- Employees from Australia and New Zealand (63%) and the United States and Canada (60%) have the highest shares of thriving employees, while Sub-Saharan Africa (21%) and South Asia (11%) have the lowest.
Gallup’s study found similar results in terms of financial wellbeing.
- 55% of workers from Australia and New Zealand and 51% from the United States and Canada expressed that they are living comfortably on their current income.
- In comparison, under 28% of employees from all regions outside of Western Europe responded positively. It’s clear from these workplace wellness statistics that employees are under economic pressure.
Emotional and Mental Employee Wellness Statistics
The majority of employees recognize the importance of mental health coverage, with 4 out of 5 agreeing that it is as important as, if not more important than, physical health coverage.
- Despite this, only 61% of employees have access to mental health care as part of their benefits package.
- The numbers are even lower for small-business employees, with only 54% reporting access to mental health coverage.
- These concerning statistics are further supported by the fact that over one-third of employees (37%) have delayed seeking treatment for a mental health issue because they are unsure if their health insurance plan covers it.
With mental health concerns on the rise, it is imperative that companies prioritize mental health care for their employees and ensure that it is included in their benefits packages to support their overall wellbeing.
Employee Wellness Barriers
Workload and Burnout
Though wellness is a priority for many employees, it remains elusive– often due to work itself.
- Most employees (83%) and executives (74%) encounter challenges in achieving their wellbeing goals, which are primarily linked to their work.
- Specifically, the top two hurdles reported were a demanding workload or a stressful job (30%), and inadequate time due to long work hours (27%).
- For a whopping 80% of employees surveyed by Mental Health America, stress affects their relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.
- Further, in 2022, 71% of employees report that it’s difficult for them to concentrate at work– up 6 points from 2021 and 25 points from 2018.
The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on employee emotional and mental wellness as more and more employees began to experience burnout. Employee burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. High stress levels can come from many sources, including work, but is typically due to many factors compounding with little or no recovery time. Find more statistics on workplace stress here.
- Burnout is a significant issue. Over half of all American workers are experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout, which is 9 percentage points greater than the self-reported rate in 2021 and 2 percentage points higher than at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020.
- Burnout affects women at a higher rate than men: 62% of female vs. 57% of male employees experience at least moderate levels of burnout.
- Most of those reporting high levels of burnout have also experienced other mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping within the past year.
- Moreover, stress, burnout, and other emotional challenges can result in unproductive presenteeism or increased absenteeism.
Toxic Work Environments
A toxic work environment is a harmful, stressful, or unpleasant workplace for employees due to various negative factors. These indicators range from bad communication practices and poor management styles (particularly micromanagement) to overt discrimination and bullying.
Toxic work environments are critical indicators of employee burnout and other wellbeing issues.
- Unfortunately, these types of workplaces are not uncommon. Roughly one in five employees (18%) describe their workplace as toxic.
- Employees in manual labor and customer service roles reported higher rates of toxicity (22%).
- Harassment, verbal abuse, and physical violence in the workplace are also alarmingly prevalent, with 22% of employees reporting that someone within their organization abused them verbally at work.
Toxic work environments are connected to employee burnout. In a global report from McKinsey on workplace culture, toxic workplace culture was the biggest predictor of burnout symptoms by a large margin.
Statistics on Employee Financial Wellness
Employee financial wellness is a crucial concern for workers.
- Bank of America found that only 44% of employees feel “financially well”--a five-year low.
- In a 2021 study from Alight, 81% of employees reported that “not living beyond my means or staying in budget” was of high or moderate priority for them. This issue also ranked in the top five concerns for employees of all age groups, showing that budgeting is really important to workers across generational boundaries.
- Moreover, nearly 60% of employees are concerned about an impending recession.
Unsurprisingly, the ramifications of financial stress spill over into other areas of wellness.
- In a report from PWC, participants shared that, in the past year, financial stress and money worries have had a big impact on their mental health (34%), sleep (33%), and physical health (23%).
- Those with existing financial troubles or responsibilities are even more impacted. Nearly half of the surveyed employees who self-identified as financially stressed stated that money worries “had a severe or major impact on their mental health.”
Employers should keep in mind that financial concerns can be a significant burden that many employees deal with silently.
Employee Wellness and Retention Statistics
Wellness is essential to today’s workforce and many employees are considering leaving for greener pastures.
- The previously mentioned study from Deloitte reports that 57% of employees and nearly 70% of executives are seriously considering leaving their organizations for a more “supportive” job”.
- Unsurprisingly, a toxic work environment is a key predictor of intent to leave. In McKinsey’s report, researchers found that across all 15 countries surveyed, toxic workplace behavior was by and large the most significant indicator of turnover intentions.
- This report further explores the topic of employee adaptability, which is often (incorrectly) linked to the tolerance of toxic behavior. Surveyors found that even though more adaptable employees might be able to tolerate toxic environments temporarily, they are more likely to leave. In fact, employees with high adaptability in toxic environments were 60% more likely to intend to leave than their less adaptable counterparts.
These researchers concluded that “relying on improving employee adaptability without addressing broader workplace factors puts employers at an even higher risk of losing some of its most resilient, adaptable employees.”
Financial wellness also has a dramatic impact on retention.
- Among the 29% of employees who are actively looking for a new job, 65% share that money is the primary motivator.
- Additionally, financially-stressed employees are two times as likely to be on the job hunt.
For more information on retention, check out this article with relevant employee retention statistics.
Suggestions and Solutions to Support Employee Wellbeing
Supporting employees’ mental health can take a variety of forms, and corporate wellness software can help you manage your offerings.
When in doubt, ask your employees what support they want. Researchers from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that, out of a list of 12 potential supports, the most popular supports were:
- Flexible work hours: 41%
- A workplace environment that “respects time off”: 34%
- Remote work options: 33%, and
- A four-day work week: 31%
An empirical study of Japanese workers found that, among other factors, "ability to work at one's own pace" has a negative relationship to stress levels. Consider how your company culture supports flexible work.
A straightforward solution is to build and encourage a company culture of taking breaks.
Taking big and small breaks throughout a workday can significantly reduce employee stress, result in fewer sick days, and delay or prevent the onset of burnout. Deloitte found that only around half of employees use all of their paid time off, get sufficient sleep, take microbreaks during the day, and spend enough time with their families and friends.
Employers should take a look at their benefits offerings to ensure that there is enough vacation time. Consider a wellness challenge that rewards employees for taking consistent breaks or performing other healthy behaviors. Additionally, senior leaders should model healthy behaviors like taking time away from work, taking breaks for physical activity, and leading full, sustainable lives outside of work.
How managers approach and encourage employee wellness also has a major impact on the bottom line of employee wellbeing.
- Mental Health America found a positive relationship between investment in developing supportive managers and overall healthier workplace scores.
- Unfortunately, only 40% of surveyed employees reported that their company does so, and only 59% of employees felt that their manager cares about their personal wellbeing.
- For workers with mental health benefits included in their health insurance package, 93% feel that this is an effective support.
Managerial support has a strong connection to employee empowerment and mental health outcomes. Given these numbers, it’s important to evaluate your manager training programs and ensure that proper attention is devoted to teaching people leaders to actively support their direct reports’ wellbeing.
When evaluating your wellness strategies, take a look at your health insurance offerings, as well as economic support. Starting a financial wellbeing program can be a massive help for employees.
Employees who work at organizations with such programs report a greater feeling of control over their finances and future than those at workplaces without (56% vs. 42%, respectively).
Financial wellbeing programs can take many shapes. The study from Alight mentioned earlier found that the top programs by employee usage (if available) are:
- Remote work reimbursement: 89%
- More frequent payments: 84%
- PTO exchange: 81%
- Access to low-interest short-term loans: 80%
- One-on-one financial support: 79%, and
- Mortgage assistance programs: 79%
Financial wellness platforms for employees can help employees take matters into their own hands.
Corporate wellness programs are a crucial component of an organization’s benefits offerings. By investing in your employees’ emotional, mental, and financial health, you can create and sustain a workforce that is engaged, motivated, and– most importantly– well.
Healthy employees will champion your company’s mission and make a positive impact on company culture. Be sure to take a look at your current wellness strategy and consider asking your employees how to make it more robust, accessible, and supportive.
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