Written by Dr. Stephanie Moynihan, Associate Medical Director at wellbeing provider Dialogue

A recent study revealed 87% of senior managers in the UK had been approached by an employee within the past year regarding their wellbeing, but only one in three organisations felt prepared to handle any employee wellbeing concerns. This sets the stage for 2024 to be the year of increased focus on employee wellbeing, particularly as more employees are looking for workplace support.  

Employee wellbeing is no longer a ‘nice to have, but a ‘must have’, which is why it is important to take a forward-looking approach to ensure employees remain happy, feel supported, and have a positive work-life balance. Dr. Stephanie Moynihan, Associate Medical Director at Dialogue, discusses her wellbeing predictions for 2024 and outlines how employers can proactively meet the evolving needs of their workforce:

 

  • Taking a more holistic approach towards wellbeing:

The understanding of wellbeing has evolved into a multi-dimensional concept. In 2024, businesses need to focus on different aspects of wellbeing including mental, emotional, and physical. Team-building activities are a simple but powerful way for employers to take a more holistic approach to supporting wellbeing. These activities not only encourage social interactions but also incorporate physical elements, which can both have a positive effect on mood. Recognizing the profound impact of loneliness on employee mental health, prioritising social connections becomes instrumental in enhancing overall wellbeing. 

As we venture into 2024, our call is for employers to amplify their commitment by investing more time and resources in their workforce. This includes the introduction of comprehensive wellness programmes and mental health resources to improve overall employee wellbeing. Employers have a responsibility to provide support for their employees, and should empower them with the tools necessary to cultivate healthier habits. This effort aims not only to enhance individual wellbeing, but also to generate a workplace environment that nurtures a happier, healthier, and ultimately more productive workforce.

 

  • Reducing stigma around mental health conversations: 

Despite significant strides in recent years, there is still a lingering stigma attached to discussions about mental health in the workplace that urgently needs dismantling. The best way to break down this stigma is to actively promote a culture of openness, understanding, and open dialogue. Shockingly, recent findings reveal that 40% of men have never discussed their mental health with others, let alone in the workplace, with 29% stating they are ‘too embarrassed’ to do so

To foster a more supportive workplace, businesses and organisations should take practical steps to enhance access to mental health services. This involves refining existing resources and introducing user-friendly self-serve mental health tools. Additionally, employers should prioritise clear communication channels and establish regular check-ins focused on employee wellbeing. 

Great leaders model self-care and effective communication by adhering to established guidelines for employees. When executives prioritise their own wellbeing, it inspires employees to follow suit. In a job market where mental health benefits are a priority, employers can attract a more diverse and skilled talent pool by recognizing and addressing these essential needs.

 

  • Recognising increased levels of Technostress

Technostress is the adverse effect on wellbeing caused by our increasing reliance on and constant connectivity through technology, both at home and in the workplace. With their devices, today’s employees can remain tethered to work at all hours of the day, including on weekends and holidays. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the widespread adoption of remote work following the COVID-19 pandemic, further blurring the boundaries between home and work life and allowing individuals to extend their work hours past the traditional ‘9 to 5’. While this flexibility has benefits, it also contributes to the growing challenge of technostress. 

In a recent survey, 91% of employees stated they work past their contracted hours, a practise that directly compromises their overall wellbeing. In 2024, employers should look to reduce employee burnout caused by this constant connectivity, in turn increasing their overall wellbeing. Anticipating the ongoing challenge of burnout throughout the year, businesses are encouraged to implement strategies that enhance support for employee mental health and wellness in the context of technostress, such as advocating for regular breaks from technology.