Health-first workplace scores highly in US wellbeing poll

A survey of the American workforce from the International WELL Building Institute reveals that employers who prioritise health, diversity and inclusion fare best on staff loyalty and performance

More than eight in ten American workers believe that health and wellbeing is a ‘must have’ for organisations, with an even greater proportion seeing it as something employers should be ethically obliged to support and 96 per cent agreeing that a healthy work environment is necessary for employee productivity.

These are the key findings of the ‘2023 State of Workforce Well-Being Poll’ from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

The survey, conducted by the Harris Poll, sought to better understand how US workers prioritise and experience the investment by their employers to promote health, wellbeing and equity in their work environments.

More than 1,000 full-time employed US adults, 25 years and older, were surveyed during a two-week period in January 2023. Across the poll, employees consistently showed a strong, positive view of health-first practices, an organisation’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and workplace flexibility.

Wellbeing deeply valued

‘What these poll findings make clear is that employees deeply value their wellbeing and they expect their employers to as well,’ says Rachel Hodgdon, president and chief executive of IWBI. ‘Employers who invest in the health of their employees have a distinct advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining the talent they need to be successful.’

The poll found that the vast majority of employees place a high value on a healthy work environment and how an organisation invests in their health, safety and wellbeing. Just over eight in ten (81 per cent) feel their company’s physical work environment has a major impact on their health and wellbeing, while around three-quarters (74 per cent) say they look forward to going to their physical workplace.

However, among employees who work remotely at least one day per week, general health issues – including health and safety, and mental health – top the list of their concerns about returning to a physical workplace, tied with commuting.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Interestingly, the poll showed that employees view organisational diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts as a vital part of a company’s commitment to health. Further, a company’s DEI efforts strongly aligned with employee job satisfaction and comfort in the workplace. Specifically, the poll found:

  • 83 per cent of employees agree that DEI initiatives are an important part of a company’s overall commitment to employees’ health and wellbeing;
  • 78 per cent of employees say that their company’s commitment to DEI is an important part of their job satisfaction; and
  • 83 per cent of employees agree that companies that actively promote DEI initiatives facilitate a more comfortable workplace.

Retention, recruitment and return to office

Most of the US workforce agrees that healthy employees are critical to a company’s bottom line. In fact, 95 per cent agree, and 62 per cent strongly agree, that a healthy workforce is essential to a company’s financial success. Employees polled also view a company commitment to health and wellbeing as key to other company performance areas, including employee engagement, company reputation, and employee recruitment and retention.

A vast majority, 95 per cent, agree – with more than half agreeing strongly – that they’re more likely to engage with a company that visibly cares about the health and wellbeing of its employees. And more than nine in ten employees (92 per cent) agree – with 43 per cent strongly agreeing – that a company committed to employee health and wellbeing stands out from the crowd.

‘Nearly four in five employees say they would not feel any loyalty to a company that doesn’t prioritise their health…’

Conversely, nearly four in five employees (79 per cent) say they would not feel any loyalty to a company that doesn’t prioritise their health. And nearly three in four employees (73 per cent) say they wouldn’t apply to work for a company that does not show it proactively invests in employee health and wellbeing.

Finally, the poll found many workers are taking part in flexible work arrangements, and those who do are worried about potential return-to-office mandates.

On average, employees say they work remotely two days per week; and more than two-fifths of employees (45 per cent) work remotely at least one day per week. Nearly four in five employees who work remotely at least one day per week say they are concerned about return-to-office mandates, regardless of whether their company has actually enacted such an instruction or not.

Read the ‘2023 State of Workforce Well-Being Poll’ here.

Andrew Sansom is editorial director of SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange, a content partner of WORKTECH Academy.
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