Mental Health

These 4 charts show workplace well-being is getting worse. This is what companies can do about it

The report finds that around 80% of C-suite executives believe the workplace well-being has improved in the last year.

The report finds that around 80% of C-suite executives believe the workplace well-being has improved in the last year. Image: Unsplash/charles_forerunner

Simon Torkington
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • A majority of workers told a survey their health had declined or not improved.
  • Conversely, 80% of C-suite executives believed staff well-being had improved.
  • The Deloitte survey says organizations should consider publishing health metrics.
  • Public accountability on workplace health can improve recruitment and staff retention.

How do you feel at the end of the working week?

If the answer could be summed up as “not great”, you are not alone.

A new report, Advancing Workforce Well-being, from consultants Deloitte found that; “around half ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel exhausted (52%) or stressed (49%), and others report feeling overwhelmed (43%), irritable (34%), lonely (33%), depressed (32%), and even angry (27%)”. The report is based on a survey of 3,150 employees, managers and C-Suite executives in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Workplace well-being is in decline

The report finds employees are strongly motivated to improve their well-being but many are not making progress, and for a majority, work is taking an increasing toll on their physical and mental health.

Figure showing employee perspectives on how workplace wellbeing has changed.
Research shows many employees feel their well-being is in decline due to work. Image: Deloitte Insights

Only a third said their mental and physical health had improved in the last year. A quarter said it had worsened, and around 40% reported no change. The cost of living crisis also appears to be taking a toll. Financial well-being had declined in the last year for 37% of respondents.

The research also suggests a startling disconnect between employees and leadership. The report finds that around 80% of C-suite executives believe the well-being of their employees has improved in the last year, against every metric in the survey.

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Creating healthier workplaces

Apart from simply being the right thing to do, the report finds a number of business benefits in creating healthier workplaces and reveals pathways “for leaders who are willing to reimagine how their companies deliver value”. These include empowering managers to support workforce well-being, holding executives to account and seeing workforce well-being as part of a wider movement towards human sustainability.

Infographic illustrating the path to unlocking workforce wellbeing.
Deloitte’s research identifies pathways to creating healthier workplaces. Image: Deloitte Insights
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What is the Forum doing about keeping workers well?

These findings reflect conclusions in the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2023, which found that improving employee well-being provided a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining talent.

Some 18% of organizations said supporting employee health would benefit the talent pipeline. Improving working hours and overtime was seen as talent-positive by 14.7% of organizations. Another 24.4% of companies said better articulating the purpose and impact of the business would help in attracting talent.

Measuring workplace well-being

Deloitte’s report concludes that leaders already recognize well-being as a C-suite responsibility. However, 70% of managers say organizational obstacles get in the way of their intentions to support staff.

These obstacles include heavy workloads and a lack of training in how to manage the health and well-being of team members. As the table below makes clear, employers are falling short of the expectations of staff when it comes to measuring and supporting well-being.

Figure showing respondents opinions on public reporting.
Public reporting of well-being metrics could boost accountability. Image: Deloitte Insights

The case for public accountability

The Deloitte report calls for greater transparency from the C-suite and suggests the public reporting of workplace health metrics would bolster accountability.

The measurement of well-being is already commonplace, with more than 80% of organizations gathering data on working hours, overtime, workplace injuries and illness, and the volume of work emails sent out of hours.

In total, “87% of executives agree potential employees would be more likely to take a job with a company if its leaders have made public commitments around workforce well-being”. However, the report states that “only around half of the leaders we surveyed say their company openly reports their well-being metrics”.

Figure showing the respondents opinions on human sustainability.
Workers increasingly expect organizational leaders to support their well-being. Image: Deloitte Insights

The report concludes that a commitment to the wider vision of human sustainability, “is the only way we’ll achieve meaningful, lasting change for both work-force and societal well-being”.

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