Mentalog

support employee wellbeing

How to Support Employee Wellbeing in the Long Term

A person’s mental wellbeing is always subject to change; simply look at this past year for proof.  Maybe most of your workers felt secure in their careers in 2019, but now, their financial foundation is a little shakier than it was before.  Whether workers have experienced personal changes, professional changes, or both, our individual and collective wellbeing are at risk when faced with sudden, unpredictable change. It is important to support employee wellbeing in the long term.

However, it doesn’t take a global crisis to impact the wellbeing of the workforce.  For example, the Centers for Disease Control state that some demographic factors like age and gender are related to employee wellbeing over time. For instance, younger adults and older adults often report better wellbeing than their middle-aged counterparts. In addition, changes in job quality can also affect workers’ wellbeing, such as reduced hours or decreased health insurance coverage.

Several studies have found that job autonomy is a critical component of employee wellbeing.  It is easy to see how job autonomy differs based on the employee’s level at the company.  For instance, the more freedom and flexibility a person has in their job, like someone in upper management, the more likely it is that they will report better wellbeing. Conversely, those with rigid schedules and less control over their job tasks, like shift workers, report having less motivation, job satisfaction, and demonstrate poor work performance.  Finally, physical working conditions, changing technology, and workplace culture are all factors that can change over time and lead to significant changes for workers’ wellbeing in both directions.

HR managers know that not investing in workplace wellness is an invitation for burnout, which comes with significant consequences for the worker and the company.  Immediate, easy-to-implement programs like yoga and mediation may help reduce employee stress in the short term. Still, companies need to start asking themselves how to support employee wellbeing in the long term.  The answer can be summed up in three words:

Measure, measure, measure.

When designing wellness programs and policies, the first step for any HR manager should be to “check the pulse” of their workforce. But, of course, workers may be reluctant to share this information with their employers for fear of backlash and stigma.  However, there is a tool that companies can use to measure wellbeing in a scientifically valid way that also protects worker privacy: the WorkforceMHQ.

The WorkforceMHQ from Sapien Labs allows companies to measure worker wellbeing while keeping individual data private.  Based on a thorough analysis of 126 different mental health assessment tools, the WorkforceMHQ shows companies the factors influencing worker wellbeing and strengths that the organization can build upon for all their employees. In addition, the WorkforceMHQ provides employers with a comprehensive list of factors that contribute to worker wellbeing and disaggregates that data by demographics and department.

Once workers complete the WorkforceMHQ, employers will receive the company’s overall wellbeing scores across these six dimensions:

  • Mood and Outlook: assesses emotional regulation and thoughts about the future
  • Drive and Motivation: assesses interest, curiosity, motivation, and energy levels
  • Social Self: assesses confidence, communication skills, and ability to have relationships
  • Core Cognition: assesses attention, memory, learning, and self-control
  • Complex Cognition: assesses decision-making, creativity, problem-solving, and adaptability
  • Mind-Body Connection: assesses sleep, appetite, coordination, and fatigue

With this information, companies can make informed decisions about which wellness programs or policy changes will support employee wellbeing in the long term.  Employers can also choose specific, measurable goals to determine if the program or policy change has achieved its intended effect.  For instance, if a company finds that its workers have low scores in Drive and Motivation, they can investigate the factors driving the score and design program or policy changes that will address the needs of the workers. Finally, workers also benefit from the WorkforceMHQ.  Each person who takes the assessment will receive a report with their wellbeing scores and personalized resources if they would like more assistance.

All done, right? Not quite.

Evaluation is a critical component of managing and maintaining workplace wellness, and companies can measure the success of their initiatives using the WorkforceMHQ. For example, after implementing an initiative, companies can ask workers to retake the WorkforceMHQ to measure any changes in worker wellbeing scores.  If scores increase, this is hard evidence that the company should keep the initiative going.  If not, leaders should stop spending time and resources on that intervention and try something else.

Regular evaluation using the WorkforceMHQ will also identify potential issues with employee wellbeing before they become significant issues for the company.  Over time, leaders can combine WorkforceMHQ data with other key data points like retention, healthcare costs, and employee satisfaction to show shareholders how their wellness initiatives improve their overall financial health.

For more information about how the WorkforceMHQ can become a part of your company’s wellness strategy, please contact us at workforce@sapienlabs.org.