The Cigna Midwest team is proud to recognize companies who are truly making a difference in workplace wellness. They understand that prioritizing workforce well-being is a key driver of business success. We’re proud to support Crain’s Healthiest Employers given our commitment to improving the health, well-being and peace of mind of the people and communities we serve.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world more than any event in recent history, significantly impacting the health and well-being of our workforce and the economy. As a result, the inextricable link between individual health and productivity, business performance, and economic prosperity is clear, and now is the time for employers to more actively engage and support the mental and physical health of employees.
In a recent survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit (healthyworkforce.economist.com), commissioned by Cigna, both executives and non-executive employees agree that worker well-being is fundamental to business success. Executives in particular view productivity as the top result of a healthy workforce, with more than 90% seeing investments in employee health and wellness having a direct impact on financial performance. Most executives and employees believe that a healthy workforce is critical to economic vitality; 90% of respondents say companies that prioritize health and well-being will recover faster than those that don’t.
The survey also emphasized the importance of mental health. The combination of fatigue, burnout, and stress was recognized as the top barrier to business growth. Workers in the Midwest ranked these concerns higher than in other parts of the country: 41% versus 33% in the West, 38% in the Northeast, and 39% in the South. Many continue to struggle with the impacts of isolation, disconnection, and blurring lines between work and home due to the pandemic, and more people are seeking care for stress, anxiety, and depression. Across the U.S. over half (59%) of employees are looking for broader access to mental health benefits.
Research results uncovered other key differences related to mental health and work-life balance:
- Industry differences: Employees in health care, financial services, and retail industries were most likely to rate fatigue, burnout, and stress as a significant barrier to business growth.
- Differences between executives and employees: While 41% of employees indicated that fatigue, stress and burnout are top barriers to business growth, only 33% of executives did the same, representing an 8% difference.
- Importance of work-life balance: The view of what best defines a healthy workforce differs between executives and employees. For executives, having access to quality health care ranked highest (51% vs. 44% for employees). Whereas employees prioritized having a good work-life balance (57% vs. 48% of executives, representing a 9 point difference).
Employers can play a leading role in addressing the increased need for health and well-being support. This means more than providing health benefits and wellness programs; businesses also need to help build a culture of health designed to encourage employees to engage in those programs and their personal well-being. This culture should be created with strong leadership commitment and employee involvement, as well as encompass both physical and mental health, reduce stigma and support greater work-life balance.
How do we do that at Cigna? One effective tool we utilize is Mental Health First Aid Training. The goal is to help employees recognize and understand common behavioral issues, explore how stigma is associated with mental health, and offer resources for support. We’re also training and certifying our employer clients so that they can best support their own employees. Further, we help create a culture of wellness through our Midwest Well-Being Committee. This team develops regular employee programming focused on whole-person health including healthy cooking demos, exercise classes, financial wellness seminars, and weekly meditation classes. These are just a few of the ways that our Cigna Midwest team prioritizes physical and emotional health for our employees.
As more companies return to work in-person, they’re taking steps to address employee concerns about workplace safety. The Economist study found that workers in the Midwest place a high priority on workplace safety and feel more confident about conditions at work compared to employees in the South and West. Companies in our area are more likely to have a majority of employees working in-person which reinforces the need for broader, more holistic health and well-being strategies.
As the country continues to manage the complexities of the pandemic, it is vital for employers to invest in the well-being of their most valued asset — their people. Healthy, productive employees represent a true competitive advantage for American businesses, and help drive a robust economy.
Find out more about The Economist Intelligence Unit’s exploration of how a healthy workforce drives economic vitality.
Source: The Economist, “The Employer Imperative: Driving US Economic Vitality through a Healthy, Productive Workforce,” survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), commissioned by Cigna, in January and February 2021 among 1,200 consumers and 600 executives.
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