Corporate Wellness 2.0: Job Satisfaction Is Out, Life Satisfaction Is In

Should employers do more to support their employees’ wellbeing outside of the workplace?
  • CR Worldwide recently published its Corporate Wellness 2.0 report, which reveals the relationship between employees’ wellbeing in the workplace, and out-of-hours.
  • An employee’s overall wellbeing and ‘life satisfaction’ directly affects their performance at work, from motivation to creativity.
  • Many large enterprises are now transforming the way they approach employee perks, benefits, and wellness, with greater emphasis on employees’ lifestyles out-of-hours.

CR Worldwide recently published its Corporate Wellness 2.0 report, which charts the revolution of workplace wellness with personalised peer-driven employee benefits, workplace incentives built around health, wellbeing, and sustainability, and the elevation of workforce wellbeing to a board-level issue. 

Major workforce demographic changes, combined with productivity gaps, a fierce talent war, and rising absenteeism and presenteeism levels have led large enterprises to transform the way they approach employee perks, benefits, and wellness. 

Modern employees expect their employers to care about their out-of-hours wellbeing. According to the report, “CR data shows major employers responding to this by introducing team bonding exercises and travel incentives ranging from sports activity days to nature trips, to improve health and wellbeing outside office hours.” 

Corporate Wellness: The Disappearing Boundary Between Personal and Professional Lives

CR’s research points to “a need for employers to challenge the traditional work/life divide and take a more active role in employees’ physical and mental health.”

Stress levels are on the rise, negatively impacting employee and company performance. High-stress levels are associated with low productivity, increased risk of burnout, and increased risk of mental ill health. The fact that “more time off” was among the most popular employee rewards last year clearly indicates that companies need to address stress levels inside and outside the workplace, especially considering that one of the key causes of workforce underperformance is lack of mental and physical wellbeing. 

“Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey of 32,000 workers has shown how a rise in employee depression combined with increasing physical health problems, such as unhealthy diets, is harming productivity through ‘presenteeism.” 

An important issue to note is that working long hours has been found to be a major cause of unproductiveness, as it can be a source of stress. This is why some companies are “attempting to increase productivity by offering staff more time off.” 

Not only can this reduce stress, but it can also increase work satisfaction, as surveys have found that extra vacation and paid time off rank ahead of pension plans and parental leave as top employee rewards. 

From Job Satisfaction to Life Satisfaction

“New research is leading employers to see management of mental wellbeing outside the workplace as integral to modern workplace performance and to attracting a younger generation of workers.”

To respond to this and to better manage stress and the wellbeing of employees, organizations are starting to implement programs that specifically target the mental health and overall life satisfaction of employees. This is why companies are increasingly offering a range of mental and physical health benefits, from treadmill desks to subsidised gym memberships, mindfulness apps and extended leave. 

For example, companies are reaping the benefits of the therapeutic effects of the human-animal bond, by providing pet friendly policies, offering pet therapy, allowing support animals on corporate travel, and offering human-animal interactions as part of their corporate travel incentives. 

In their efforts to reduce stress and drive productivity, companies are providing the kind of emotional support that has been traditionally seen as the duty of healthcare providers. 

The reasoning behind this is that research has found that “an employee’s overall mental state – or ‘life satisfaction’ – directly affects everything from workplace motivation to creativity. This indicates that employees’ ‘life satisfaction’ should be as much of a concern to modern employers as their work satisfaction, as the two are intertwined.”

Ensuring that an employee’s mental health is in check not only decreases stress levels, but it leads to overall emotional wellbeing, which can spur innovation, spark creativity, improve cognitive performance, and increase idea generation. 

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“In other words, a more positive frame of mind helps workers to think of more new ideas and join these ideas up to form new projects, products or services.”

This new reality is what is driving the corporate wellness economy, with over 80% of US companies with 50 or more employees investing in modern corporate wellness schemes, many of which are increasingly experiential schemes rather than tangible ones. 

CR data found that companies are increasingly providing experiences that encourage relaxation and social or family-oriented activities, like cruise getaways, company sponsored Orlando family dream vacations, and Napa Valley Wine and Dine mini breaks. 

“Demonstrating commitment to supporting employees’ home lives as well as work lives is a way of demonstrating appreciation of their efforts,” which can be huge drivers for engagement, loyalty, and performance. 

Looking Ahead 

“Modern employers will increasingly blur traditional distinctions between the personal and the professional based on the belief that an employer’s responsibilities to their workers extends beyond the office walls.”

In the future, organizations will leverage technology and real-time data to drive and optimize their corporate wellness initiatives. Technology will be used to predict and prevent poor employee productivity in advance, and “causes of low productivity, including health or financial problems outside the office, will be easier to identify.”

A side note on technology and wellness

The CR report also found that poor productivity is partly due to the failure to up-skill young workers. Organizations are already starting to use incentivised learning to boost workforce skills, therefore improving productivity. 

Emerging technologies, like e-learning and gamification through AR and VR, are likely to play a key role in re-educating and up-skilling workers in the coming years.

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