As obvious as it is to say employee well-being impacts job performance, the areas companies can focus on improving wellness vary greatly. Many companies are saying their HR departments have become almost like mental health counselors, doing their best to help when employees have anxiety or depression as well as being burnt out or stressed. Company culture in the modern age is known to have a big impact on employee well-being, and it goes beyond having a WELL Building Certification.
78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and a chunk of that is due to student loans. When workers enter the market armed with a shiny new college degree, they’re starting out with a burden of tens of thousands of dollars to repay. Some companies such as Fidelity, Aetna, and Penguin Randomhouse, according to Forbes, are helping their employees to pay back student loan debt.
But some employers are getting more creative than that. They’re setting up work-live spaces, where employees live on the company’s campus in provided housing, so as not to be too far from the workplace action. This also gives employers flexibility in offering financial help, be it in the form of discounted monthly housing or supplementing workers’ bills, such as covering utilities for the residences, or including a stipend for bills in the workers’ salaries.
Given the amount of time employees spend in the office, it’s more than just a place they go to earn a paycheck. It’s a big portion of their lives, a place for social interaction, where they can and do make friends, sometimes for life. Feeling as though their contributions are valued is a big step in an employee having great job satisfaction, productivity, and a sense of belonging.
Emotional support should be a part of company culture across the board, not just the responsibility of the workers to find for themselves. Knowing they’re safe and comfortable gives employees more opportunity to be creative and voice out-of-the-box ideas, take risks proposing innovations, admit to mistakes, and take responsibility for finding solutions to problems.
It’s not just about the building people work in, or the comfort of their workstation and conference room. Our environment every day has a major impact on our well-being, from the air we breathe to the food we have access to and the exercise we can get. When an employee sees the company they work for caring about the quality of the air they breathe and the lighting in which they work, they know they’re valued.
Yes, having an aesthetically beautiful office can say a lot about your company, but to your employees, it says you want them to work in a place that works for them. It says you care about their comfort. That you have a Third Place, where they can work and feel entertained and energized at the same time, says their emotional health matters to you. That you have biophilic spaces, or a policy allowing employees to bring their pets to the office, or relaxation rooms, means you’re investing in your workers. You’re not simply interested in what they can give to you in terms of attention, output, and number of hours at their desks. You’re investing in them as people, who have needs that may not always seem office-friendly, but you’ve made it known you care more about them than simply their job title.
Sometimes, that’s all an employee needs, to know they’re valued beyond their work output.
A study by the Harvard Business School found that workers want to know their contributions are valued, in some cases, more than they want a raise or a promotion. If your company fosters a culture where you understand the burdens your employees are faced with, from paying their bills to caring for their families—including the furry members—and making social connections, then you’re doing something right. Your employees will thank you for it.