Over the last two years, employees across the globe have had their physical, mental, emotional, financial, and social wellbeing affected. While social isolation and burnout were the key reasons, the dropping economy, rising healthcare costs, and a disturbing work-life balance have also contributed to poor employee health and wellbeing.
Due to the impact of poor employee health and wellbeing on their workplace productivity and engagement, many employers have started implementing workplace wellness programs. While these wellbeing programs help the workforce embrace health and wellness, it also helps employers build a healthy workplace culture and boost productivity.
While these challenging times have been a wake-up call for employers to prioritize employee health and wellbeing, the workers have also realized the importance of leading a healthy life.
Statista released a report for the percentage of US employees who prioritized their health and wellbeing in 2020 and 2021. Here is a quick brief of the study outcomes.
State of Health and Wellbeing Priorities 2020 – 2021
Statista reported the outcomes of an online survey conducted with 2501 respondents in the United States. The study was conducted in the last quarter of 2019 before the pandemic had begun classified as 2020 outcomes, and the 2021 outcomes were for the study conducted in the first quarter of 2021 (almost 10 months into the pandemic). The survey was conducted on individuals who stated specific health and wellbeing activities have become a priority for them in 2020 and 2021.
Of the different wellbeing activities, the ones that were prioritized by employees in 2021 compared to 2020 were –
- Managing their work-life balance
- Getting enough exercise
- Managing stress
- Getting routine medical checks
- Saving on large expenses
- Managing education expenses
- Managing their work-life balance – While 77% were trying to balance their work and personal commitments in 2020, the number slightly rose to 79% in 2021.
- Getting enough exercise – In 2020, 74% of the respondents were putting efforts to get enough daily exercise for physical fitness. In 2021, the number rose to 76%.
- Managing stress – Around 73% of the respondents worked on managing stress in 2020, which improved to 75% in 2021.
- Routine medical checks – Although 70% in 2020 were getting their regular medical checks, annual screenings, physicals, and following the medical advice of their physician, there was a 1% increase with a total of 71% prioritizing regular health checks in 2021.
- Saving for large expenses – Almost 53% in 2020 were saving up to make larger expenses or purchases like cars, vacations, weddings, and other special events, the number rose to 60% in 2021.
- Managing education expenses – In 2020, the education expenses of their own or others were around 36%, while in 2021, the number rose to 40%.
A few wellbeing areas did not see much of a change over the survey period, and the percentage of prioritizing it remained constant during the 2020 – 2021 study period. The key ones included –
- Eating healthy – The objective of nutrition and eating healthy was constant at 81% in 2020 and 2021.
- Emergency fund – Building an emergency fund was prioritized by 72% of respondents in 2020 and 2021.
- Spending time for activities – Almost 71% of the respondents prioritized spending quality time for self-care in 2020 and 2021. This included spending time for themselves and their hobbies, interests, developing new skills, and relaxation.
- Advancing career – In 2020 and 2021, around 60% said they prioritized learning and developing new skills for their occupational growth and to boost their careers.
Many other wellbeing areas saw a drop in their priority levels in 2021 during the survey period. Here is a quick look at the different activities that saw a decrease in their relative emphasization by the respondents in 2021, compared to 2020.
- Staying in a budget – While 83% of employees preferred following a budget and not living beyond their means in 2020, the number decreased to 81% in 2021.
- Investments and Retirement income – The interest to make investments, wealth accumulation, and having a post-employment income was a priority for 79% in 2020, which dropped to 74% in 2021.
- Social wellness – Almost 75% of the respondents prioritized growing and maintaining relationships in 2020, which decreased to 73% in 2021.
- Reducing debt – In 2020, around 75% focused on reducing their current debt. In 2021, the number fell to 70%.
- Child or dependent care – While 55% prioritized taking care of their children and other dependent’s needs in 2020, it reduced to 51% in 2021.
All the above-mentioned wellbeing activities were a high or moderate priority for the responding employee group’s personal lives in 2020 and 2021.
While there has been a mixed outcome for the different employee health and wellbeing priorities, the overall wellbeing and happiness quotient improved from 39% in July 2020 to 40% in 2021, though it was still relatively lesser than the 49% in the pre-COVID 2019 period.
Keeping in mind the above results of the employee health and wellbeing study, employers must focus on motivating their workforce to prioritize various holistic wellbeing areas of their lives. Implementing the best-suited workplace wellness programs can encourage and guide employees to make the best decisions to overcome their concerns and lead a life of better health and wellbeing.