After two years of dismal news about employee well-being, could we be turning a corner? Here at meQuilibrium, we have been tracking changes in well-being on a bi-annual basis since COVID-19 upended our work lives almost two years ago. Trends have been generally dismal: every six months we’ve seen declines in positivity, motivation and increases in burnout and job stress. There have been few bright spots.
However, for the first time since our semi-annual well-being self-checks began in July 2020, our December 2021 self-check data from 6,369 meQuilibrium members shows what might be the beginning of a reversal in what has been a distressing trend in employee wellbeing.
In all this, data from the December 2021 self-check continue to confirm the value of strong employer support for employee well-being. However, perceived employer support continues to trend downward.
Taken together with the downward trend in employer support, the finding that well-being trends have shown improvements for the first time in two years presents a paradox. If employer support is so valuable, and employees report feeling less well-supported, how is well-being on the upswing?
Organizations that had solutions in place before the pandemic had the tools to reinforce employee well-being. After supporting employees strongly during the earliest months of the pandemic, perceived support is likely ebbing because leaders are turning to face the daunting task of re-tooling their organizations in order to remain competitive in a post-COVID landscape. Perceived employer support may also be dropping due to changing employee needs. After navigating the primary and several secondary variant waves of the pandemic, and getting adjusted to new, more flexible ways of working, employees may be feeling better on average while also feeling less in need of employer support. The most important thing leaders can do is keep an eye on trends and adjust accordingly before they become a bigger problem within the organization.
Well-being Trends: December 2020 – December 2021
|Well-Being Indicators||Dec. 2020||Dec. 2021|
|Looking forward to holidays||49%||57%|
|Intent to quit||17%||14%|
|Want to change work-life balance||37%||35%|
|Somatic symptoms of stress||36%||34%|
The Impact of Employer Support on Well-being: December 2021
|Well-Being Indicators||Not Strongly Supported||Strongly Supported|
|More positive than negative emotions in a day||29%||52%|
|Want to change work-life balance||47%||29%|
|Intent to quit||21%||10%|
Top Types of Employer Support
|Policies & Actions||Valued by employees|
|Being able to have a flexible work location||52.2%|
|Managers showing genuine concern for how I was doing||47.9%|
|Being able to have a flexible work schedule||45.2%|
|Communication about the pandemic and safety precautions||35.8%|
|More company holidays where everybody is off work||13.8%|
|Reimbursement or funding for a home office||13.8%|
|New tools for virtual collaboration with teams||11.2%|
|Expanded access to in-person mental health counseling||7.2%|
|Extended or expanded family leave policies||6.0%|
|New ways to get to know co-workers
(virtual social gatherings, happy hours)
|More information to help me understand my employee benefits||3.8%|
|Virtual mental health counseling||3.3%|
|Expanded support for children
(e.g., reimbursement, care coordinators)
|Support for virtual schooling/tutoring||0.7%|
For more than 15 years, Brad Smith, Ph.D., has been telling stories using health data. His career includes roles ranging from policy-focused work with the U.S. Government Accountability Office to evaluation-related work for dozens of state, federal and private-sector clients using health services research methods.
Dr. Smith currently serves as chief science officer at meQuilibrium, leading efforts to harness data to improve the product, enhance reporting to clients and establish the value proposition.
As the experts in the science and application of resilience, meQuilibrium works with employers to help their employees deal with uncertainty and give HR leaders tools to become more resilient organizations.