Top 8 employee well-being trends in 2020

Top 8 employee well-being trends in 2020 (and why you need a strategy)

It’s the third week of the new decade. This means millions of people are trying to maintain their New Year’s resolutions for 2020. Maybe you got some of your own, or heard some of your colleagues discuss theirs. Whether it’s going to the gym more often, building a daily meditation practice, or reading more books, they’re dedicated to improving their own well-being.

This is great news for employers! Improved well-being has a positive impact on personal health and productivity, as well as team performance and company culture. More and more organisations are becoming aware of the benefits of well-being in the workspace. It’s a sure way to improve business performance and reduce (HR) costs at the same time. 

In today’s article, I will cover the eight trends in employee well-being in 2020. So if you’re thinking about investing in employee well-being or want to improve your current strategy, make sure to check out these trends.

What is employee well-being?

Before we get into the business trends concerning employee well-being, let’s have a quick look at what employee well-being entails. It’s more than good coffee and paying for gym memberships.

Employee well-being in the workspace includes physical, social (or emotional) and mental health. It’s a state of being that enables employees to cope with their stressors, work productively, and contribute to the organisation. Well-being also plays a part in personal and professional growth, as well as in creating and maintaining a positive employee-employer relationship.

Why you need an employee well-being strategy

When employees cope with poor well-being, this affects their ability to work. For example, employees suffering from burnout can’t work, and employees with low morale due to neglect and unfair treatment don’t feel like working. On the flip side, organisations that focus on improving well-being in the workspace reap benefits like increased productivity and higher employee engagement.

It’s up to organisations how they choose to approach well-being in the workspace. Having said this, this is one of those instances where not making a choice is definitely making a choice. These are the two options:

  1. Pay the price for poor well-being in the form of a high sickness absenteeism rate, increased recruitment costs due to a low retention rate, and slower business growth (or decline) due to lost productivity.
  2. Invest in a proactive well-being strategy and structurally lower the costs of the issues listed above on both the short- and long-term. What this strategy should cover depends on your organisation, as does the way you implement it. You could address one issue at a time, or implement a comprehensive, company-wide strategy.

Top 8 employee well-being trends in 2020

Trend 1: Employee well-being at the heart of employer branding

With the ongoing war for talent, employer branding is more important than ever. According to this study, more than half of professionals (58%) in the age group of 24-40 would be more likely to accept or stay at a job at an organisation that invests in employee well-being. 

Another study found that an astonishing 75% of employees would “not join a company that failed to provide good support for treating physical health concerns such as back pain.” This shows that if you want to attract and retain talent, a well-being strategy is no longer a luxury. It’s a must.

Trend 2: Restoring work-life balance

In this age of technology, the lines between work and private life are fading. People have 24/7 access to their work, and some feel pressured to be available around the clock. Working from home on the weekends, answering emails at night, taking a phone call on a day off. When these exceptions become the rule, this can lead to chronic stress, lower employee satisfaction and increased sickness absenteeism.

Making clear what is expected of employees and helping them manage their work-life balance plays a vital part in creating a healthy, productive job experience both in and out of the workspace.

Trend 3: Addressing mental health at work

Work and mental health are inextricably linked and affect each other. For example, work-related stress can increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression in employees. This research found that 82% of employees worldwide are concerned that mental health issues could affect their ability to work.Β Only 25% of employees believe their employer provides good support for mental health conditions.

This shows the importance of paying attention to mental health in the workspace. Not just by raising awareness, but by implementing strategies to improve and secure positive emotional and mental well-being.

Trend 4: Preventive measures to reduce stress

In 2018, the costs of stress-related sickness absenteeism in The Netherlands was close to three billion euros. This doesn’t even include financial damage due to reduced performance. Almost half of Dutch employees (45%) said organisations need to take (more) measures to reduce work-related stress. Investing in a well-being strategy aimed at reducing and preventing stress in the workspace is becoming increasingly more important. Not just because reducing stress is a profitable investment, but because stress plays a critical role in the employer-employee relationship.

Trend 5: Helping employees improve financial health

Just like mental health, financial health is often not discussed in the workspace due to stigma. A missed opportunity for both employee and employer. In 2017, more than 60% of employers in The Netherlands had employees with financial problems. A full-time employee with financial problems is estimated to cost the employer around €13.000 in administration costs, sick leave, and decreased productivity. By identifying and addressing these issues in time, further costs can be reduced or prevented.

Trend 6: Focus on equality, diversity & inclusiveness

Equality, diversity and inclusiveness are important factors for well-being in the workspace. They’re aimed at providing people from all backgrounds with the same opportunities, as well as bringing people together to achieve success. Failing to make people feel included leads to low employee morale, which will negatively impact performance and culture. That’s why an active approach should be part of any employee well-being strategy.

Trend 7: Paid leave for volunteering

One of the hottest well-being trends of the last few years is offering employees volunteer time off. You heard that right. Organisations are giving employees paid leave to support a good cause. A growing number of employees don’t just want to make a living, but they want to contribute to a better world. An organisation’s commitment to social responsibility now plays a deciding role in attracting and retaining both clients and employees.

Trend 8: Proactive approach to employee well-being

Looking at the entire employee journey, from attracting new talent to reducing sickness absenteeism and increasing performance, it’s clear that a well-being strategy is a must-have for any organisation. As life becomes more demanding, both in the workspace and at home, personal well-being will be the top priority for HR departments in 2020 – and probably this decade.


Whether you want to attract new talent or lower your HR costs, a well-being strategy will help you achieve these goals. But before you dive in, it’s important to know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to well-being.

Improving employee well-being is a business trend that’s about valuing people. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their struggles and their successes. If you’re wondering where to start, get to know the people. Their feedback is your roadmap to success.

Michiel Hengst
Michiel Hengst

Michiel is the founder of Joseph Waiden. As a well-being consultant & trainer, he helps businesses grow through employee well-being. With his background in philosophy, mindfulness, and stress counselling, he creates profitable employee-centered well-being strategies that benefit both the employer and employee.

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