James McQuivey, VP, Principal Analyst and Jonathan Roberts, Analyst

Show Notes:

For many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic put an increased focus on employee wellness and well-being. Organizations made conscious efforts to ensure that employees maintained physical and emotional health during a very challenging time. What lessons were learned and what changes will remain post-pandemic?

In this episode, VP, Principal Analyst James McQuivey and Analyst Jonathan Roberts discuss the elevated role of employee wellness in the post-pandemic business environment.

The episode starts with the changing definition of employee wellness. (Hint: It’s not just a discount on your gym membership anymore). Roberts says organizations must view wellness holistically through three dimensions — individual, environmental, and contextual — and describes the various elements of those dimensions.

Roberts and McQuivey also discuss how the pandemic has changed employee expectations around wellness, saying some employees are walking away from jobs if they feel wellness isn’t given the right status in an organization. Roberts says that in the past, when it came to wellness, employers would ask, “Do we have to?” Today, they should be asking, “Can we afford not to?”

Roberts points out that employees have been asked to do more during the pandemic and in the more recent market acceleration. But employees can’t perform at the level needed if they’re unwell. “There’s a baseline of being OK and being well and having energy to … approach change with positive curiosity,” he says. “That can’t happen if we’re struggling, if we are burned out, if we’re sick every other week, if we’re stressed about childcare or personal finances.”When asked which wellness lessons will remain after the pandemic, Roberts highlights a couple. First, employers must realize that employees’ energy and productivity is drastically affected by their state of wellness and well-being. If you want more innovation, invest in employee wellness efforts.

And secondly, employees’ perception of work and their organization is impacted by their level of wellness. McQuivey says Forrester’s data found that employees who are healthier in their work environment have more trust in their manager and corporate leadership. And higher confidence and trust in the organization’s leadership and mission means the employee’s capacity for innovation is significantly higher.

Later in the episode, the analysts highlight steps some firms are taking to improve employee wellness and encourage employees to address wellness concerns (and just how far employers can go in these areas without crossing a privacy line). They also discuss the role (and risks) that new technology can bring to these areas.

Be sure to catch the closing discussion: Roberts and McQuivey clarify which internal organization should be responsible for employee wellness and outline good first steps for less mature organizations in this area.