Company benefits have long focused on physical health. Mental health entered the scene, too, in recent years. But the pandemic shoved it into the limelight and chances are it’s not going to go away.
Many businesses big and small have shifted their company benefits to include both physical and mental health. But well-being has to do with more than just our bodies and our minds. In today’s complex world, everything from finances to our social lives can help or hinder our overall well-being.
That’s why, in 2023, companies are pivoting to a focus on total well-being. Never heard of total well-being before? Familiar with the term but not quite sure what it actually means or looks like? Read on for a crash course in total well-being and how to integrate it into your company’s benefit offerings.
What is total well-being when it comes to employees?
Total well-being is essentially taking a holistic approach to employee well-being. The shift toward including mental health alongside physical health is a step in the direction of total well-being. It’s an understanding that there are many components that add up to a healthy life.
Why is this a company’s problem, you ask? It’s been proven time and time again that healthy employees are happy employees. Happy employees are engaged employees. And engaged employees mean more productivity and higher retention rates
The best part of a total well-being approach to employee health is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You can tailor total well-being to what makes sense for your unique company and the employees who compose it.
If your workers are all remote, a focus on physical health could mean subsidized gym memberships or reimbursing for home gym expenses. If your employees are working in the office, this could mean adding an office gym to the mix.
The same goes for total well-being as a concept. If your workers skew younger, you can tailor your total well-being offerings to their needs.
When it comes to total well-being, it’s all about meeting employees’ needs rather than sticking to an arbitrary rubric.
Maybe they’re not looking for 401(k) matches as much as they’re looking for stocks or access to financial advisors who can guide them through their financial futures. When it comes to total well-being, it’s all about meeting employees’ needs rather than sticking to an arbitrary rubric.
That said, there are several main areas that tend to comprise total well-being: physical, mental, professional, financial, and social well-being.
How to support employees' physical well-being
Physical well-being has to do with employees’ physical health. Making access to the tools people use for physical well-being is key to this aspect of total well-being.
This could take the form of subsidized gym memberships as mentioned above, or something like providing mid-day yoga classes in the office.
But physical well-being goes beyond just physical ability and exercise. Everything from the food we eat to the quality and amount of sleep we get has an impact on our physical health. So when you’re considering the physical element of a total well-being approach, don’t be afraid to go broad.
There are a number of apps and services that you can use to offer broad physical well-being benefits to your employees. This could even include subsidizing things like healthy meal kit subscriptions and the like.
Ways to support employees' mental well-being
A silver lining of the pandemic has been an increased awareness of the importance of mental health and, thus, a focus on it.
From access to mental health services like therapy to flexible PTO policies that workers can use when they need a mental health day, there are a number of ways to support mental well-being. Access to stress-management services and apps is another way to support mental well-being.
Even if your small business isn’t in a place where you can offer direct benefits in the form of services, there’s still a lot your company can do.
Give employees mental health days and create a company culture that’s not just tolerant but understanding of mental health needs. Leaders should lead by example and there should be clear policies for how managers are expected to handle the mental health needs of those on their teams.
Steps for supporting workers' professional well-being
Our jobs consume huge portions of our lives. Most of us spend the majority of our lives working on our careers. Naturally, career well-being plays a major role in overall well-being. The goal of career well-being is that people are engaged in careers that they’re interested in, they excel at, and they feel matter.
Some employers might think of things like career coaching as little more than a method for helping talent find jobs elsewhere. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Offerings like career coaching can be one of the best ways to help your employees advance at your company.
Offering benefits that focus on career well-being doesn’t have to be something that’s outsourced. It can be as simple as setting up a mentorship program or offering access to continuing education and upskilling opportunities.
The goal is to provide employees with the tools they need to do their best work. This goes hand in hand with providing opportunities for career growth
and promotion so that employees don’t end up stuck in what feels like a dead-end job for them.
How to support workers' financial well-being
Most people experience money-related stress at some point in their lives. Whether that’s struggling to pay back student debt, climbing the corporate ladder in order to get to the pay range you want, or just being broke in your 20s, financial wellness has a major impact on our overall well-being. That’s why it’s an important element of total well-being.
This is one place where employers can really step up and help. Companies can offer free or discounted financial services to their employees, from tax help to financial advising.
This is a particularly good option for companies that offer stock options to their employees. Pairing those offerings with financial services can help your workers make the most out of what’s available to them.
Plus, financial well-being (like many of the aspects of well-being on this list) doesn’t stand alone. Financial stress can get in the way of everything from sleep to our personal and professional relationships.
Naturally, money worries can translate into being both physically and mentally unwell. Think of these elements as part of a constellation of wellness rather than individual, stand-alone components.
Ways to support employees' social well-being
According to the National Institutes of Health
, social connections are a central part of a healthy life. Even something as simple as learning a new skill or joining a group can lead to social boosts.
Volunteer time off and other socially-focused benefits can go a long way when it comes to promoting social well-being among your workforce.
As Harvard Business Review explains
, businesses can take steps to foster social belonging among employees. Organizing simple things like email chains that give workers the opportunity to share affirming stories about the impact of their work can help do the trick. So can purely social activities like happy hours and the like that aren’t focused on team building.
If your wellness efforts have been focused chiefly on physical and mental health, don’t worry. Your company is far from alone. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel in a week.
Take small steps in 2023 to begin adding other well-being elements into your company’s suite of wellness offerings. That could be as simple as adding an extra day or 2 of flex time off or volunteer time off.