An optimistic working environment helps to strengthen the bond between workers and the organisation, boosting levels of motivation, commitment and learning. This certainly has a positive impact on productivity.
To achieve this goal, employers must provide a happy culture based on caring for those aspects which affect employees’ wellness and whole health: access to high quality medical care, family and social relationships, financial health, work and personal life and their own physical and mental health.
However, the spread of the pandemic has led to new habits in the work environment which need to be taken into account. To give one example, the consolidation of remote working has, in some cases, changed our personal and work lives, promoting the ‘always on’ culture: the idea that we have to be permanently logged on to work.
In fact, according to the latest edition of our study, ‘Cigna COVID-19 Global Impact’1, 78% of employees worldwide acknowledge that they never switch off from work, which can lead to increased stress levels. In turn, this stress, can cause a domino effect on other areas of employees’ lives, which has a detrimental impact on their physical and mental health.
This is just one example, but there are many more. It is therefore crucial for employers to have a detailed understanding of their employees’ needs so that they can adequately respond to the particular challenges faced.
Happiness goes hand in hand with physical and mental wellness
When employers invest in their employees’ happiness, this has many positive effects. One of the most obvious is on a physical level. Feelings of happiness and comfort have beneficial effects on the body, since they reduce insomnia, help to control cardiovascular health, improve the immune system and release serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, which help to increase confidence. This is why the feeling of happiness is closely related to physical and mental wellness.
Therefore, employees who feel happy and satisfied also feel more motivated and their capacity to handle professional challenges with more energy and confidence noticeably increases.
However, it is important to note that employees’ lives are more complicated than ever and that their wellness depends on many constantly-changing factors. All of these factors influence employees’ whole health and, therefore, affect their happiness levels.
The rise of hybrid workspaces: an opportunity to improve
It is equally important to take into account the impact of certain changes that are being experienced, such as increased remote working. The rise of hybrid working environments has led to a change in the way employees relate to one another, which certainly affects their happiness: enjoying a good relationship with colleagues is key to establishing trust since it enables them to share their feelings or concerns and helps them to cope better with the demands and setbacks of day-to-day life.
For this reason, the fact that employees do not share the same physical space should not lessen the strength of the support networks between them. It is therefore now more important than ever to work to humanise technology to strengthen interpersonal relationships and connections between employees, also bringing them into the digital realm. Accordingly, the creation of collaborative hybrid environments is key for employees to feel motivated and part of the team, giving them an increased sense of belonging.
In this sense, telemedicine solutions can be of great help to achieve this objective. This type of tool provides access to holistic healthcare wherever the employee is located, both on a physical and emotional level and, in many cases, this care is also extended to their families. Something as simple as offering employees access to this type of tool may therefore have a very positive effect in crucial areas such as physical and mental health care, employee and family conciliation and improving domestic life, by reducing concerns relating to access to medical care.
In addition, we must not forget that this type of service includes health tests or online coaching programmes which enable plan members to identify, prevent and learn to manage specific issues related to managing our emotions, such as stress, anxiety or fear.
The influence of leadership on improvements to wellness
In the same way, employers must not lose sight of the role their department leaders have when influencing employees’ wellness. Those in positions of responsibility can help to create an environment of trust with employees through strong communication and the closeness that comes from direct contact.
In this sense, data from the latest ‘Cigna COVID-19 Global Impact’1 study are very positive: 69% of respondents stated that they have a good relationship with their line manager. Although this is a good start, there is still room for improvement: team leaders must become points of contact for matters that go way beyond productivity and become points of support to deal with more sensitive issues, such as financial health.
Indeed, this is one of the most common factors creating stress for employees, which is why it is crucial to normalise conversations on this topic. It is also a good idea to offer help through employee assistance programmes which provide psychological evaluation or guidance on personal finances.
In addition, one of the main areas where it is necessary to do more to promote happiness at work is employees’ work-life balance. It is therefore particularly attractive to promote activities and initiatives that train employees on issues such as productivity and time management at the same time as launching conciliation policies based on flexibility.
With regard to this, it is particularly attractive to offer the ability to access company health plans to employees’ direct relatives (partner and children). The peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones are protected against any eventuality and can access high quality medical care whenever they need it will have a positive impact on employees’ levels of satisfaction and commitment.
In short, when promoting a ‘culture of happiness’ within a company, it is essential to take account of the wide range of interconnected factors, including those on which employees’ whole health depends. It is only from this holistic perspective, in which each member of an organisation and their close circle is taken into account, that it is possible to achieve the aim of organisational happiness.
Cigna Whole Health: a new way of understanding health
The pandemic has had a direct impact on people's lives, affecting every part of their daily routine. Conscious of how this continuous change may be impacting upon people’s wellness, Cigna has adapted its European-wide offering of health solutions to the new expectations and current needs of its clients and plan members, taking a holistic approach: Whole Health.
Whole Health is a new way of understanding healthcare and the concept of health, keeping in mind all of the areas that make up our daily lives and which affect how we feel, act and perceive our surroundings. It is no longer enough to think in terms of body and mind and health and illness. It is now necessary to take a wider view which covers the consequences of the pandemic on every level.
For more information about Cigna Whole Health, please visit Whole Health Hub.
1 Cigna ‘COVID-19 Global Impact’. Positivity around Vaccine Roll-Out and Anticipated Approval Leads Improved Perceptions on Whole Health. Link