Prioritising Employee Wellbeing is Essential for Leaders in Today's Business World

Prioritising employee wellbeing is essential for leaders in today’s business world. Ignoring it can have significant risks and impacts productivity, engagement, and long-term growth of the organisation. As leaders, it is crucial to make employee wellbeing a top priority.

This article from Gallup explores this topic further.

Why would anyone put in extra effort if they feel like you don’t care about them?

Only about one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing. This percentage has been trending down since it peaked at the start of the pandemic. Gallup has found similarly low numbers in Germany, France and the U.K.

This finding has significant implications now that work and life are more blended than ever before. According to Gallup research, those who prefer remote work cite reduced commute times, flexibility for their family and their wellbeing as some of the key reasons.

In 2011, long before the pandemic, about the same percentage of U.S. employees strongly agreed that their employer cared about their overall wellbeing (21%).

Then at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, employers responded quickly with plans, communication and what many employees believed was genuine concern for them. And the percentage who felt their organization cared about them nearly doubled, reaching a high of 49% in May of that year. But since 2020, the percentage has plummeted to the previous low levels.

Why It Matters

Employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing, compared with those who don’t, are:

  • 3x more likely to be engaged at work
  • 69% less likely to actively search for a new job
  • 71% less likely to report experiencing a lot of burnout
  • 5x more likely to strongly advocate for their company as a place to work
  • 5x more likely to strongly agree that they trust the leadership of their organization
  • 36% more likely to be thriving in their overall lives

Gallup has also found that teams most likely to feel like their organization cares about their wellbeing have higher customer engagement, profitability and productivity; lower turnover; and fewer safety incidents.

Employees’ expectations have fundamentally changed since 2020. Many employees now have new and more serious factors to consider when they think about their job, including if their employer cares about their wellbeing. The intersection between work and life has new meaning — upping the bar for employers.

Increasing Employee-Employer Disconnect

Complicating matters for organizations, declining levels of employee engagement and feeling like their employer cares about their wellbeing — and increasing levels of dissatisfaction — are signs of a growing disconnect between employees and employers. The expectations of the post-pandemic workforce don’t match the actual experience employees have at work.

Ultimately, this disconnect has serious implications for customer retention. There has been a recent decline in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which measures customers’ satisfaction with company products and services — how close they are to ideal and the extent to which they meet or exceed expectations.

From 2020 to 2022, among exclusively remote employees of all ages, Gallup saw a significant drop in the percentage who say that they are extremely proud of the quality of the products and services their organization offers. This is especially true for workers below age 35, regardless of whether they work remotely, on-site or hybrid and for workers 35 and older who are exclusively remote. Younger employees are also less likely to feel great responsibility for the quality of their organization’s products and services.

Only one in five employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization makes decisions that are in the customers’ best interest. This perception is highly correlated with delivering on promises to customers. Why would employees care if their leaders don’t care?

Consider this:

  • Engaged employees are 4x as likely to feel extremely proud of the products and services their organization offers.
  • Employees who experience frequent or constant burnout are 50% less likely to feel that their organization always delivers on its promise to customers.
  • Among U.S. workers, approval of labor unions is at its highest point since 1965 (71%) — and the younger the worker, the more interested they are in joining a union.

These facts indicate that employees are becoming dangerously alienated from their employers. And the consequences of employee-employer detachment — and employees feeling their employer doesn’t care about their wellbeing — include less commitment and effort from employees to go the extra mile for customers, less loyalty to the organization, and higher turnover.