Employee well-being is crucial and will be a prerequisite while choosing or keeping a job

FREMONT, CA: Starting the year with strict social distancing measures to ending the year by reassuring employees it is safe to return to work, 2022 has been a year of dramatic changes.

Many of the workplace changes that started in 2023 will gain momentum and become the new normal. Rather than opt for check-the-box wellness solutions, employees demand organisation restructuring, strong leadership commitment, and well-being.

Below is a list of the top five workplace wellness trends expected in 2023.

1. Hybrid Work is Here to Stay

The pandemic ushered in a new way of working for the modern-day office worker. Technology companies went from being businesses that were rooted in a downtown culture to businesses where employees could work from anywhere. Though working remotely, or working in a hybrid environment, appeared to be a short-term solution to get through the worst of the pandemic, the practice is staying.

This pandemic-induced opportunity to work in a more fluid environment has unwittingly revealed the human need for autonomy. Employees are hardwired to need flexibility regarding where, how, and when they work. With a tight labour market, employers are obliged to yield to this deep-seated psychological need, allowing their workforce to continue to operate under this flexible arrangement or risk the ability to attract and retain employees.

2. The Rise of the Four-Day WorkWeek

Just as employees demanded control over where they work, a growing swell of employees is demanding more control over when they work. It is not a surprise factor even if companies introduce a four-day workweek in a bid to remain competitive in this red-hot labour market.

The good news is that the four-day workweek is likely a win-win for employers and employees. Workers are reported to have increased levels of engagement and improved mental health when working a four-day schedule.

3. Mental Well-Being Will Continue to Take Center Stage

As the rates of burnout, depression and anxiety are at record levels, many employees will expect their employers to make employee mental well-being a priority. Emboldened by a favourable labour market, employees expect their workplaces to take meaningful action, which includes fostering an environment in which there is the freedom to feel and express emotions. The old-school thought of keeping a check on emotions at work no longer holds.

To meet the moment, employers will need to go beyond providing the traditional formula of identifying individuals at risk and providing them with individual resources, such as employee assistance programs. Instead, organisations and their leaders are required to radically rethink and create a supportive work environment that fosters mental well-being. This will call for leaders at all levels to take a proactive role in openly speaking about their mental health, while also examining structural issues that lead to employee burnout and other mental health issues.

Increasingly, employees want to be able to discuss mental health topics openly with their colleagues and managers, so leaders need to be prepared to have open, honest conversations about mental health.

4. The Labor Movement Will Grow

The labour surge began to yield victories, such as the union campaigns. Petitions to file union elections shot up nearly 60 per cent and public approval of unions hit its highest in half a century. Employees will continue to use their leverage to create more vital unions across many different sectors. This will likely lead to more protests, picket lines and walkouts and force employers to provide employees with a greater say in their future. The recent push for unionisation in some sectors, particularly among employees working in frontline positions, as well as the ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’ phenomena, are similar manifestations of a drive toward improved work-life balance.

5. Well-Being Is a Shared Responsibility

Employees cannot be forced to commit to their work, nor can physical or mental wellness be required. Personal well-being is considered a private matter and the ultimate responsibility lies in hands of the individual. In addition to offering benefits like discounts on gym memberships, health screenings, and health food subsidies, organizations can promote their employees' welfare in a range of ways.

Employee well-being needs to be a strategic priority as it is an imperative criterion when it comes to preferring one opportunity to other. Alongside this rise in awareness of the importance of well-being at work, leaders also recognise that true well-being is a shared responsibility.

A key player in the execution of well-being as a shared responsibility is the middle manager. Every manager is uniquely positioned to either promote or undermine their team members’ level of well-being. Being an effective leader means incorporating well-being into their leadership style. Going ahead, more companies will begin to recognise that the over-reliance on individual responsibility and accountability cannot withstand the effects of structural barriers to well-being, such as work overload, toxicity in the workplace, perceptions of unfairness and lack of inclusion.