Employee Wellbeing: Why and How?

Employee happiness, employee engagement, employee well-being… Three different concepts directly related to each other. Before focusing on employee well-being, let’s look at the definitions: In its simplest form, well-being means that a person is well, prosperous and comfortable in every sense. Well-being in every sense? How possible do you think this is and what are the conditions?

Start with your own answers

When do you feel holistically well? Of course you need to be healthy. But being healthy doesn’t just mean having a well-functioning, highly conditioned body; you also need to be healthy emotionally and mentally. You feel good when you have manageable levels of stress, you minimise the problems that directly affect you, you are in balance and also, when you feel that the people who are important to you are in the same situation. When you give your own answers sincerely, it becomes clear what you need to address when you talk about employee well-being.

Employee well-being requires moving beyond the massage chair in the rest room.

Why is well-being so much on the agenda?

The concept of employee well-being is not new. Companies have been developing strategies and taking action for the well-being of their employees for years. The milestone that brings well-being to the first item on the agenda is the Covid-19 pandemic. This phenomenon, which upset the balances of not only working life but also daily life, taught us all the following: If we are not well, we cannot work. If each of us is good, we are good. Anything that takes away our well-being, especially health, is a potential danger. We defend against the danger and give up if necessary.

In a process where we were worried about our own health and the health of our loved ones, we expected the companies we work for to be a source of trust for us. We wanted to see that they were oriented towards protecting people, not work. In fact, we all wanted to hear the sentence “Leave works aside, how are you?”  We felt the need to share human sentences such as “I am not Covid-19, but I am afraid, I have lost my relatives, I am worried, my burden has become heavier, having my children at home makes it difficult for me to work.”

During the pandemic period, there have been companies that have done this and given their employees 100 per cent confidence. They managed to stay in close contact with their employees, even remotely, focused on their emotional and mental health as well as their physical health, and stayed together as a team.

On the other hand, many companies have lost their talented employees. As with the great resignation movement that began in the United States, many people have become inclined to change careers in anticipation of a new life. Although dozens of factors such as wages, fringe benefits, working conditions, team relations, leadership are mentioned, people actually wanted to take steps for their holistic well-being. 

Reminding that all clichés contain truths, not only them, but perhaps all of us thought: “Life is one day, and that is today”

How to achieve employee well-being?

Every one of us faces the manageable challenges of everyday life at any time. We differ in our ability to solve and deal with problems. Our well-being is also different. An app that brings all employees to the same state of well-being with one click has not yet been invented. When considering the well-being of employees holistically, we must recognise that the need for well-being is variable for each individual employee.  Compulsory participation in a weekend trip planned to make everyone happy and bring them to the ideal state of well-being may not be the ideal option for a person with home care responsibilities.  Likewise, a gym membership, which you see as a big step forward, will only be “another wasted effort of HR” for a mentally and emotionally worn out employee.

It is only when people are well that they can develop their potential, be productive and creative, build positive relationships with others, cope better with stress and make meaningful contributions. Every step that will lead them to a state of well-being needs to be planned from a strategic perspective, integrated into the company culture, addressing real emotions and analysing each employee’s experience individually.

We are talking about well-being now more than ever, yes, because the pandemic has underlined the visibility and importance of employers in the lives of employees. The focus of management teams has shifted from organisational issues to individual experiences. It proved to the whole world that the concept of well-being, which we have only addressed the emotional requirements with this article, is not a trend, but should turn into the work itself.