May 23, 2024

Wellbeing has plateaued since COVID – despite higher awareness and use of wellbeing support and tools

  • 80% of employees are aware and use wellbeing support and tools in 2023 compared to 77% in 2020
  • 70% of employees in 2023 felt part of a supportive community, down from 79% in 2020 
  • 68% of employees in 2023 felt that their line manager cares versus 79% in 2020
  • Employees who are supported feel three times more engaged at work
  • Research based on 30,000 responses across the UK and Europe

 

Employee wellbeing has plateaued since the pandemic despite awareness and use of wellbeing support and tools in 2023, according to Inpulse, experts in employee engagement.

Insights from 30,000 employees across the UK and Europe show that wellbeing was high in 2020 (73%). However it dropped to 66% in 2021, then 64% in 2022 before slightly rising to 66% in 2023.

 

Employees also feel less supported and cared about now than they did during the pandemic. Seventy percent of employees in 2023 felt part of a supportive community, which reduced from 79% in 2020.

 

Line manager support is also in the spotlight: in 2023, 68% of employees felt that their line manager cared about them versus 79% in 2020. However, awareness and use of wellbeing support and tools is higher in 2023 (80%) than in 2020 (77%).

 

Inpulse’s metric is called The Wellbeing Index, which measures five core elements of individuals’ wellbeing – work/life balance, support, workload, connection and mental health – and scores them from 0 to 100. The Index reveals if employees are effectively managing daily work and life demands and serves as guidance for organisations to provide appropriate support measures.

The plateauing figures show that over a third of people don’t have a high Wellbeing Index. Going deeper into segmentation by age, research highlights that the younger generation suffers the most – employees over 35 years have a 5 points higher Index than those under 34 years. This matters as 5 PP is statistically significant variance and will impact the day to day experiences of those employees.

 

Matt Stephens, CEO of Inpulse, explains: “Over the last few years we’ve seen companies throw millions into wellbeing apps, benefits and various activities, but it’s clear without insights and appropriate strategy, they can’t move the dial. These findings not only mean employees feel worse since the pandemic, but also their wellbeing is not improving very much at all, in fact it’s stuck.

“A large problem that we’re seeing is that people are more likely to feel not cared about or supported, which likely shows a lack of authenticity from line managers in truly connecting with their employees. Unfortunately, approachability and empathy are waning, and employees can see through it. Line Managers need some understanding and support – they are an immensely pressured group in organisations today. To add to an already complex situation, it’s important to remember there are different generations, each with different values and expectations. It means that HR and managers need to think carefully before applying the same set of principles across the entire workforce.”

 

The research also highlights that employees who feel supported are almost three times more engaged at work—only 28% of employees who do not feel supported by their line manager are engaged at work, compared to 81% of engaged employees who feel supported by their line manager.

 

“Teams are tending to be leaner than they might have been pre-pandemic, increasing the pressure. It’s having a spiral effect on engagement and retention – where people are  disengaging because they need to pull the weight of those who left the company, creating a much wider impact.

“Trusting employees to do their jobs and providing support are key elements of the line manager role and have the greatest impact on how engaged people are at work. People need to find a sense of purpose in order to be happier, more resilient and more successful, positively contributing to society and the environment.

“Considering that 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined by the manager, organisations need to put more investment into coaching and growing the role of line managers,” concludes Stephens.