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A Holistic Look at Organization and Employee Well-Being


Fri Dec 03 2021

A Holistic Look at Organization and Employee Well-Being

What does it take to create a holistically healthy organization? A new research study from the Josh Bersin Company, The Definitive Guide for Wellbeing: The Healthy Organization, examines that question.

The research emphasizes the importance of transitioning from the traditional focus on employee benefits to one that encompasses job and work design, management, rewards practices, a demonstrated commitment to psychological safety and fairness, and a culture of employee listening. Using survey responses and interviews, the research explores 91 practices and programs in five different categories: physical health, mental well-being, financial fitness, social and community connections, safe workplaces, and healthy business practices.


The good news is that three-quarters of respondents cited a focus on the well-being experience at their organizations, and 77 percent also said their firms prioritize physical and psychological safety of employees. Unfortunately, only one in five reported that their companies actively made an effort to balance employee workloads.

Companies that take a holistic approach saw significant business benefits. According to the data, healthy organizations were 2.2 times more likely to exceed financial targets, 2.8 times more likely to adapt well to change, and 3.2 times more likely to retain employees as well as see dramatic drops in absenteeism and health insurance claims.

“Our research clearly shows that merely investing more dollars into well-being-related benefits isn’t enough,” said CEO Josh Bersin in a press release. “In order to attract and retain talent and sustain financial success, the time is now for companies to embrace a corporate-wide focus on organizational health at all levels.”

The report includes a four-level maturity model for well-being based on the types of practices implemented in companies and the associated business, employee, and cultural impacts. Only 15 percent of companies included in the study, however, were at the highest level of maturity where the biggest gains are seen. Worse, more than half (57 percent) of the companies were at the lowest two levels; these organizations focus primarily on basic employee safety and more traditional well-being benefits.

While every practice and program studied had some positive impact, the report identifies six specific factors that can help companies become healthy organizations. For example, companies with leaders who engage in regular dialogues about health and well-being are four times more likely to outperform their peers. The study, however, found that only about a third of companies encourage leaders to engage in such conversations. Fewer than 20 percent said their people managers focus on ensuring employee workloads are manageable, and fewer than half regularly assess and simplify work processes.


The report asserts that healthy organizations also implement practices that go beyond company walls. For instance, these firms organize community give-back activities, offer employees paid time off to volunteer, and choose supply chain partners that demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability. Measurable benefits from these practices include higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, better ESG ratings, and an employer brand reputation of being a great place to work.

Janet Mertens, senior director of research for the Josh Bersin Company, says, “In today’s service-driven economy, every employee matters. Holistically healthy organizations find ways to make everyone feel supported and cared for. A healthy organization not only has healthy employees; it has healthy business practices, job design, and reward systems. The commitment to well-being must be embraced by all parts and all levels of the business.”

When it comes to employee well-being, the study concluded that technology can be a double-edged sword. With the corporate well-being technology market set to reach $70 billion in 2021, there’s almost no limit to the various tools, offerings, and services employers can present to employees and candidates. The report noted that two things matter most when it comes to making well-being technology sticky enough to make a difference: simplicity and transparency.

Bersin noted that healthy organizations apply a lens of health and well-being to every corner of the company. “They can withstand crises of any type and consistently see excellent financial and business results. Essentially, these companies are ‘healthy’ at their core.”

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