Beyond wellness: rising trend of employee well-being for competitive success
By Akesh Lalla, Director: SAP SuccessFactors at SAP Africa.
As we enter a new exponential age of unprecedented technological advancement with the emergence and proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data, IOT and blockchain, one truth about business remains: a company's most valuable asset is its workforce.
Due to a growing shortage of scarce and specialised skills, this most valuable asset is in higher demand than ever before. And, despite high unemployment in many developing nations, especially in Africa, there are simply not enough of certain specialised skills available, says Akesh Lalla, Director: SAP SuccessFactors at SAP Africa.
With the arrival of the always-on workplace made possible by mobile and cloud technologies, employees are under more pressure than ever before. Remote workers reportedly have up to 70% fewer friends than their office-bound peers, but even within the office environment, physical interaction with co-workers has dropped dramatically. The strained economic climate has put many employees under huge financial stress, affecting their engagement and ultimately their productivity.
For decades, companies have made use of corporate wellness programmes to support a healthy and productive workforce. Traditional corporate wellness programmes aimed to improve the physical health of employees: by providing opportunities or incentives for exercise, balanced nutrition and healthy habits, employees were less likely to become burnt out or forced to take sick leave due to stress-related illness, lowering medical costs while decreasing absenteeism.
But people are multifaceted: it is no longer enough to simply care for physical well-being. Employees need a more rounded approach to their well-being in order to remain productive, creative and able to rise to the challenges of the modern workforce. Enter the evolution of corporate wellness: employee well-being.
Prioritising total employee well-being
Modern employee well-being programmes consider five aspects for holistic health: the mind (psychological well-being), body (physical well-being), connections (social well-being), resources (financial well-being), and motivations (providing employees with a sense of greater purpose). This last aspect, namely purpose, is especially important to millennial workers, who now account for more than half the global workforce. By tying all five aspects together, companies are better able to build resilience and agility in their workforce to deal with the challenging business environment.
According to EY, effective employee well-being programmes can increase engagement, drive productivity, improve the company's brand image, strengthen their employer brand, and reduce sick leave. But how to start?
Leveraging technology for improved employee well-being
In order to engage and support the diverse and sprawling internal and external workforce that is the hallmark of most large organisations today, companies need to look at their end-to-end HR processes and calculate how to embed well-being into those. Employee well-being is not a siloed discipline that is the sole reserve of the HR department: stressed, tired and burnt-out employees struggle to remain engaged and productive, directly impacting the organisation's bottom line.
SAP's leading human capital management platform, SAP SuccessFactors, established a ground-breaking partnership with Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global to provide access to exclusive Thrive pathways that are designed to improve employee well-being and productivity and encourage positive behaviour changes. The pathways are delivered via the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and Learning Management solutions, and combine machine learning and analytics to encourage fuller participation and deeper engagement among employees.
The machine learning capabilities further enable companies to personalise content and quantify well-being within their organisations, handing organisations invaluable insight into the most effective way to ensure a healthy and engaged workforce, whether internal or external.
As the war for talent escalates and the pressures of our always-on business environment take their toll, companies will need to rethink their approach to safeguarding the well-being of their most important asset: their employees. Technology has a powerful role to play: by providing easier ways to embed well-being in every aspect of employee engagement, companies are better able to give employees the support and guidance they need to continue to perform optimally.