Nothing makes people rethink their priorities like a succession of hard knocks – and if we didn’t all know that before, we certainly do now, in the wake of assorted global and national turmoil. This reprioritisation has real consequences for businesses and employers, too, as employees’ focus on health and wellbeing increases, and expectations around it sharpen. Taking our lead from Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce member Westfield Health’s recent report, Wellbeing Trends 2023, we’ve condensed the top trends into this article, so your business can get a head start on workplace wellbeing in 2023.
Inclusivity will go above and beyond
Westfield Health’s research into Google searches shows that inclusivity has now made a definite leap from general concept to a specific diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agenda. As the research puts it, employees are now looking ‘for an authentic commitment to inclusive workplace support’.
What’s really interesting here is that this agenda is not just about the (very necessary) support needs occasioned by, say, disability or illness, but also those occasioned by other characteristics and experiences that are inextricably part and parcel of many employees’ lives – gender, for instance, and associated issues around pay gap and menopause, shared parental leave, religious practice, neurodiversity, and more.
In short, the rise of DEI in employees’ consciousness now means that the old taboos are slipping away, and honest conversations around DEI issues that were previously left undiscussed will become the (sometimes difficult) norm between you and your employees.And the outcome of those conversations will need to be policies, actions, and measurable change that make people feel supported no matter who they are or how they work – not just lip-service or virtue-signalling. Has your business got a plan for this?
Financial wellbeing: salaries will rule
Perhaps unsurprisingly, money and finances loom large in the 2023 wellbeing universe in Westfield Health’s research, and many employees are in a shaky place in this respect at present, as borne out by some fairly stark statistics.
Therapist polls, for example, reveal that two thirds of respondents (66%) say cost of living concerns are causing a decline in people’s mental health, whilst 61% of therapists say their clients are anxious about whether they can afford to pay their household bills. Food bank searches and sales of hot water bottles have skyrocketed – put those two together and the conclusion is inescapable.
The burning issue here for employers, of course, is that they risk losing top talent if they can’t keep that talent in a position of financial stability. Your people can and will look elsewhere for higher-paying jobs, not necessarily by choice, but simply to offset the rise in the cost of living. And if employees desert you, your own financial position is disproportionately impacted, because in a highly competitive job market driven by wage increases, recruitment costs also spiral.
It’s not easy to raise salaries when your business is facing its own rising costs, but the mood music at the moment very much suggests that in 2023, employee support schemes – cashback, free finance advice, one-off payments – just won’t cut it anymore. What’s your plan B?
Preventative health: your people will drive change
Since our hospitals were suddenly overcome by an unknown virus nobody had a treatment for, employees’ views on health have changed radically – and the onus is on employers to accommodate these in the workplace. Intelligence gleaned from internet searches shows that interest in meaningful lifestyle changes has now overtaken food fads and short-term dieting, and interest in private medical insurance has doubled since 2020.
Couple that with the fact that the average age of new medical insurance policyholders has come down by 24% in the past five years, and that more people are switching from wearables to in-depth digital health devices that can measure blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., and it becomes clear that many are moving to a more preventative position on their health. What, then, can employers do to ensure their internal processes and offerings align with these changes, and evolve with their employees’ health-conscious expectations?
Lunchtime gym classes, healthy food options, a standing desk set up – they all potentially have their place, but there’s also the challenge of supporting health and healthy conduct amongst remote workers and homeworkers, for whom you are, of course, legally responsible.Are you on to this?
Digital downtime is on the up
Of course, as so much more of the working world becomes digital, driven in part by remote working habits, digital itself brings its own health and wellbeing challenges – and your employees are actively searching for alternatives to them.
A marked increase in searches like ‘soft living’ and ‘soft life’, and the rise of the ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon have demonstrated that many employees are now prepared to put self-care and wellbeing before the always-on, permanently connected digital lifestyle many of them (and their managers) previously took for granted.In the workplace, you could look to initiatives like designated quiet hours, ‘no meeting’ days, and even a four-day working week to diminish the stress that digital is capable of exerting on people’s lives and work. Once again, however, remote working and homeworking will remain a challenge to police. So, have you got that covered?
Contact Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce for more information on how you can connect your business to experts and resources to help you through employee health, wellbeing, and other challenges in 2023 – and beyond.
To find out more visit the website here, or call 01582 522448.