What emotional well-being really means and why it is essential in the workplace.

A few years ago, the world was introduced to a new way to beat stress and keep your head in the game. The practice of mindfulness. Suddenly, it was the top query on Google and was discussed everywhere from local news stations to Psychology Today.

Emotional well-being is the new mindfulness, like sitting is the new smoking—and it isn't a fad or buzzword of the year. Emotional well-being has grown into a $4.2 trillion industry and is projected to grow to $66 billion by 2022.

"We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival."

Joan Halifax

Emotional well-being in the workplace is present in most modernized areas like Asia, Europe and The U.S. Many countries are coming to recognize that emotional well-being is critical to a productive workforce.

In 2009, a randomized clinical trial found that six months of nutritional and smoking cessation counseling along with promotion of physical activity and other health counseling led to significant improvements in employee depression, anxiety, body fat, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and total health risk. 57% of high-risk employees were converted to low risk, which reduced annual claim costs 48% for the year after. (Cardiol, 2009)

What the stats mean to an organization

Currently, workplace wellness is valued at $47.5 billion, which remains small compared to the massive productivity losses associated with an unwell, disengaged workforce. Yet only 9.8% of employees are covered by a workplace wellness program. (Global Wellness Institute)

The lower cost of employee health care and increased workplace satisfaction leads to larger ROI on employee health programs.

What exactly does emotional well-being mean? At first glance, emotional well-being is simply pleasant feelings like happiness, love and acceptance. Those are signs of positive well-being, but our emotional health is the most significant indicator of how we handle the unpleasant feelings we experience.

According to Psychology Today, the definition of emotional well-being is "the ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings."

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Individual factors involved in emotional well-being include the ability to cope with stressors, effectively communicate, and the social skills needed to make connections with others.

Maybe a private therapist would be more appropriate for individuals struggling with their well-being?

Nope. Research has repeatedly shown that improving well-being in the workplace has transformational benefits to the company. Meaning, happy employees have lower workman's comp claims and use fewer sick days.

In the workplace, emotional well-being encompasses creating a "culture of health" within the environment. This can be any activity designed to support healthy behavior among employees, such as on-site health education, smoking cessation, health coaching, stress management, on-site fitness programs, club memberships, or other programs that reinforce positive well-being.

In 2017, U.S. corporations were responsible for paying a significant portion of the $97.7 billion cardiovascular health bill. Some companies like 15Five began implementing a culture of well-being to check in on how employees were doing. The resulting decrease in employee complaints was noticed right away. As corporations try to seek solutions, they see health promotion programs as one approach to decreasing healthcare costs and raising company morale.

How to develop a culture of wellness

Well-being in the workplace is the outcome of the interaction between individuals and their working environment. When an employee arrives to work and begins their day, they may get right to work, visit with coworkers or have a meeting with their boss. The outcome of these interactions determines their state of well-being along with their individual mindsets.

Today, employers have a new challenge with the millennial generation, who now make up the workforce's biggest sector. Millennials have higher depression rates than any generation before them.

They also have more inadequate social skills and feel lonelier than previous generations. Much of this is contributed to the rate of digital growth over the last ten years. Human contact has been replaced with texting or brief video clips like Snapchat.

How do employers combat these effects within a company? By taking a greater interest in their employees' well-being and promoting emotional wellness at work.

According to data from 15Five, a software company specializing in gathering employee feedback, almost 90% of employees perform better when mental health is addressed. However, only 41% are comfortable bringing it up during a check-in.

One key to achieving a human-centric workplace is by creating a culture that normalizes conversations about mental health.

Another area to focus on is ensuring company values are aligned with the manager's values and actions. The company as a whole must value employee wellness, and that needs to be brought to a managerial level. Sponsoring a program that is not attached to the company's overall values won't work.

Other helpful things you can put into place include:

• Employee recognition - Employees can highlight their peers for both on and off the job accomplishments.

• Gratitude sessions - Managers express thanks to an employee whose actions helped make their project successful. Employees express gratitude to a peer for having a positive impact on their day.

• Poll rating - Weekly check-in review feature with a poll asking employees: on a scale of 1-5, how did you feel at work this week? This poll builds the practice of managers checking in with their employees about their well-being.

• Build a psychological safety net - Normalize conversation around mental health and stress, so employees can talk about stressors they are experiencing. Make sure your EAP promotes and communicates the value, ease of use and confidentiality that is provided to employees and their families.

• Buy into it wholeheartedly - Ensure company leadership is brought into the emotional wellness atmosphere, and it truly becomes part of the company culture. It may be time to upgrade your EAP to ensure you have the tools and resources your employees really need.

Many corporations and high-end management are still old school and believe there is no place for emotions at work. The new kids on the block beg to differ. They have seen how well addressing employee's well-being has worked, and it is the way they want to work. Nothing makes an employee feel more valued than being emotionally supported by leadership.

A manager is no longer just a boss who oversees your work. He/she is also an employees' coach and cheerleader, and must be comfortable offering support to an employee when things get rough. That is where a comprehensive EAP becomes essential to leaders of organizations.

Now more than ever, your employees need emotional support and resources. The pandemic has created a whole new set of physical, financial and emotional stressors that have woven their way into the home and workplace. 

Hundreds of organizations support their employees through The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program (EAP)Investing in the right EAP to support your employees before, during and after they face adverse events will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.

When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.

Combining years of clinical experience and the formation of a meaningful partnership with an organization’s human resources department, Ulliance is among the best EAP providers, and our experts can tailor recommendations for a variety of work\life circumstances.

Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you.  Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.

The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
following issues:

• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Grief
• Interpersonal conflicts