If you were to ask your employees if they felt burned out, unhappy, unsupported, overworked or underpaid, what would they say? In a recent survey of more than 2,000 employees and C-level executives conducted by Deloitte’s CEO Program and research firm Workplace Intelligence, nearly 9 out of 10 executives viewed their employees’ physical well-being as “good” or “excellent.” Employees, on the other hand, felt differently—just two-thirds expressed the same sentiment as the executives.

Today’s American workforce reports feeling overworked, underpaid and unhappy. Minorities, especially, are struggling in the current high-pressure environment. According to McKinsey & Company, only 1 in 6 diverse employees feels supported by their current employer.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect, which might explain the current quiet quitting trend. Employees are no longer willing to work for companies that don’t value them as people.

So how can C-level executives, business owners and other business leaders better support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their employees? Read on for four strategies.

1. Provide an employer-sponsored health plan.

In a 2022 survey conducted by MetLife, 86% of employees said medical health insurance was a “must have” benefit from employers—and they want a plan that helps them navigate the complex healthcare system.

Companies need to know that a one-size-fits-all approach to health care is not what today’s employees are looking for. According to a blog post from Employee Benefit Management Services, here are the features they want:

  • A health benefit package that suits their individual needs.
  • Guidance understanding their options in case of a medical emergency.
  • A health care plan they can navigate by cellphone.
  • Innovative cost-lowering services such as telemedicine for virtual physician visits.
  • Personalized care with a physician who knows them and is familiar with their health profile.

As a business owner, you can approach employee healthcare from two angles. One common option is to share premium costs with the employee, who pays a higher premium, or to vary the costs at the copay level and negotiate a lower premium with your insurance provider. The other option is to provide 100% coverage. Advocates of 100% coverage claim that it helps companies attract and retain talent. But full coverage is a rare benefit in the working world.

2. Offer mental health support.

Burnout and stress are at all-time highs across the American workforce. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2021 Work and Well-Being Survey of more than 1,500 U.S. workers found that 79% had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey. Furthermore, nearly 3 in 5 employees reported a lack of interest, motivation or energy—and 36% reported cognitive wariness and 32% reported emotional exhaustion.

Here are some mental health services that companies can offer to support their beleaguered workforces.

  • Free access to mental health tools such as virtual talk therapy, and/or one of the many stress management tools that are available online for workplace use.
  • Trained managers who can spot signs of mental health issues, burnout and stress.
  • Regular mental health days, like Cisco’s “Day for Me,” a planned company-wide day off for employees to step away and put themselves first.
  • Hired professionals to lead in-person yoga or meditation services during work, or the virtual equivalent.

3. Encourage (and model) better work-life balance.

After working at home over the pandemic, both workers and companies are discovering that the 9-to-5 regimens that defined corporate life earlier are losing their grip on society. Here’s how companies that favor new concepts like work-life balance are slowly easing the workplace away from the non-stop hustle culture that preceded the pandemic.

  • Discourage after-hours work emails, meetings and calls. Encourage employees to turn off their email notifications and work messaging notifications, like Slack, Teams or WebEx.
  • Encourage employees to take their vacation time and unplug from work on weekends.
  • Give employees permission to set conversational and social boundaries if they need uninterrupted time to work.
  • Give highly skilled workers the opportunity to work at “top of license”: allowing them to delegate work so they’re not spending down time bogged down with administrative tasks.
  • Adopt flexible schedules and focusing on productivity, not on the 40-hour work week.

Most importantly, as leaders, CEOs should model all the above behavior themselves.

4. Promote healthy behavior and routines in employees.

More than just the warm and fuzzies, employee well-being matters. Many companies offer workplace wellness programs to promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors in a fun and engaging way. Check out these ideas.

  • Arrange for onsite vaccinations and routine screenings. For example, Wegman’s Food Markets provides blood pressure testing, flu shots and tobacco cessation programs, plus a yearly free onsite health screening.
  • Provide healthier food and snacks at the workplace. According to OfficeTeam, 44% of workers surveyed reported eating healthier at home than they did at work. Snacking at work is not fundamentally detrimental; in fact, statistics say it increases productivity. But not just any Employers can have a big influence on staff well-being by stocking vending machines and break rooms with protein bars, heart-healthy options and foods high in fiber and protein.
  • Create a smoke-free workplace. Keep a smoke-free workplace and/or offer staff smokers a tobacco cessation program, whether virtual or in-person. Even Reynolds American, the maker of Pall Mall and Camel cigarettes, plans to ban smoking in its offices and buildings as of next year.
  • Encourage more physical exercise at the workplace. Offer gym memberships as incentives, hold walking meetings, or participate in fun runs and charity events. Manufacturing company Draper holds fitness challenges that include cash prizes and gift cards to keep things fun and competitive.
  • Get employees out of their seats. One option is to install standing desks, as Google, Facebook and Twitter have, or offer allowances for remote employees to purchase standing desks. If standing desks aren’t an option, encourage team members to regularly take breaks to walk and stretch.
  • Encourage rest. At Asana, employees have access to “nap rooms,” where they can rest, recharge and take a break.
  • De-emphasize alcohol at all company functions. Promote responsible drinking by making sure to provide non-alcoholic beverages, and steer clear of spiked fruity punches whose alcohol content is difficult to detect.

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