While the gap between execs and employees is significant, the solution may be easier than we think.

Your employees may be in trouble.

Leaders have a lot on their plates dealing with everything from a hyper-competitive market to rapidly changing technology and increasingly complex social and cultural dynamics.

One area that may be getting overlooked is employee well-being.

Some leaders may be frustrated by this as they believe they are focusing more than ever on workplace culture.

Yet there is a widening gap between leader and employee perceptions that is worthy of exploration, as uncovered by Deloitte’s second Well-Being at Work Survey. 

By the Numbers

  • About 84% of executives say their companies have made well-being commitments, but only 39% of employees agree.
  • Nearly 90% of top leaders say they are doing a good job of advancing human sustainability (ie, supporting employees, the world, the environment, local communities, and purpose over profit), while just 41% of employees agree.
  • Three in four employees say their health has declined over the past year, even as 75% of C-suite executives say they believe it has improved.
  • While 77% of executives believe that workers’ mental well-being improved, only 33% of employees surveyed feel so.
  • Around one-third say their health improved. However, more than three of four C-suite leaders believe their workforce’s health has improved. 

At a minimum, these numbers indicate a great need for understanding.

Why Does It Matter?

  • Sixty percent of employees, 64% of managers, and 75% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting for a job that would better support their well-being.
  • Employees who feel their well-being is valued are more likely to be engaged in their work. Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their tasks, focused, and committed to achieving their goals, leading to higher productivity.
  • When employees’ well-being is supported, they are more likely to collaborate effectively with their colleagues. Strong teamwork leads to improved efficiency and collective problem-solving.
  • Organizations that invest in employee well-being tend to have higher retention rates. Retaining experienced and skilled employees saves the time and costs associated with recruiting and training new staff

In the report, Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, said, “Leaders should be immensely concerned that work continues to be the primary reason why people are both physically and mentally unwell.”

As leaders, we cannot walk away from this phenomenon that is begging for our attention.

Companies can impact these numbers by seeking understanding and not assuming what employees are looking for regarding human sustainability in the workplace.

In the survey, employees give us a sense of how managers can help, and their responses are surprisingly simple.

  • Regularly check in on their well-being (54%)
  • Ensure workloads are reasonable (48%)
  • Encourage employees to use their well-being benefits (38%)
Quotes by Rhonda Y. Williams - Employees are the experts on their well-being. A leader's role is to seek understanding by asking, not assuming, so we can provide the support that helps employees perform at their best. --Rhonda Y. Williams, CEO Above the Grind Leadership


What Can  Leaders Do?

So, why isn’t this happening in a way the employees recognize, understand, and feel it?

It could be that the company’s well-being processes are not systematized.

There is a significant difference between systematized practices and manager-dependent actions.

When well-being practices are systematized, there are regular processes in place that bring a level of consistency to the practices. Managers receive training on execution and are held accountable for promoting and adhering to the standards. The practices apply to everyone across the organization. This eliminates the fear of “how my manager will respond.”

This is very different from having well-being resources “available,” but the way they are supported is dependent on the manager’s willingness and ability. If a manager is stressed or simply uninformed, they can inadvertently derail the organization’s efforts simply by denying or belittling employees who seek available resources.

Most managers do not set out to have a negative impact on their employee’s well-being. Yet here we are.

These numbers are daunting and sobering.

It’s up to us to lead our teams back to a robust focus on workforce well-being and human sustainability.

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