A new study is urging employers to transition from a traditional focus on employee benefits to one that covers job and work design, management, rewards practices, a commitment to psychological safety and fairness and a culture of employee listening.
The Josh Bersin Co., a U.S.-based research and advisory company, examined 91 practices and programs in five different categories: physical health, mental well-being, financial fitness, social and community connections, safe workplaces and healthy business practices. It found that a people-centric approach to all work is the foundation of every healthy organization and results in significant business benefits.
According to the study, healthy organizations are 2.2-times more likely to exceed financial targets, 2.8-times more likely to adapt well to change and 3.2-times more likely to retain employees, as well as seeing dramatic drops in absenteeism and health insurance claims.
Read: What can employers do to create psychologically healthy workplaces?
“Our research clearly shows that merely investing more dollars into well-being . . . benefits isn’t enough,” said Josh Bersin, the organization’s chief executive officer, in a press release. “In order to attract and retain talent and sustain financial success, the time is now for companies to embrace a corporate-wide focus on organizational health at all levels.”
While the study found every practice and program had some positive impact, it identified specific factors that can help companies become truly healthy organizations. These include practices that foster virtual and face-to-face communities, help employees continually develop and grow, create a helping culture and ensure equitable and fair pay.
The study also highlighted the importance of leadership behaviours and actions. For example, it found companies that engage in regular dialogues on health and well-being are four-times more likely to outperform their peers. However, only a third of organizations in the study indicated they actively encourage their leaders to engage in these conversations. As well, fewer than 20 per cent of managers focus on ensuring employee workloads are manageable and fewer than 50 per cent assess and simplify work processes regularly.
Read: Successful wellness programs involve leadership, stress management: report
The healthiest organizations also implement programs that go beyond company walls, according to the study, which cited practices like community give-back activities, providing employees with paid time off to volunteer and choosing partners that demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability.
“Many companies define well-being as a constellation of the social, mental, physical and behavioural health of their employees,” said Bersin in the release. “This is an important start. But if the work itself, the business practices of the organization and the company culture are not also scrutinized, companies will miss the mark.
“Healthy organizations apply a lens of health and well-being to every corner of the company. They can withstand crises of any type and consistently see excellent financial and business results. Essentially, these companies are ‘healthy’ at their core.”
Read: Canadian employers prioritizing investments in employee skills, well-being: report