man drawing big unhappy face on glass Employee well-being is no longer exclusively theresponsibility of the HR department, but a company-wide concern.(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Research demonstrates that workplace stress is on the rise and it istaking a devastating toll on business productivity, with one in 10 hours lost to unplanned days off inthe retail sector alone. It is clear that today's businesses arefailing to prioritize employee well-being to an adequate degree andlosing a significant chunk of productivity and efficiency as aresult.

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This trend demonstrates that mental health and physical healthare strongly intertwined with the success of businesses' day-to-dayoperations, with stress and anxiety in the workforce drivingabsenteeism and distracting workers from their responsibilities andmotivation to succeed in their jobs.

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Related: 10 unusual approaches to improving employeewell-being

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Another challenge comes in the shape of rapidly changingworkforce demographics: a younger workforce is increasinglymeasuring well-being in terms of self-fulfillment. For these employees,well-being derives not just from the work they do and how they doit, but from who they are and what drives them in both theirpersonal and professional lives.

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Because of this shift, if enterprises increase employeeproductivity, they need to redefine what is meant by workforcewell-being and who is responsible for it. This will mean thatemployee well-being is no longer exclusively the responsibility ofthe HR department, but a company-wide concern. From flexible hoursfor parents and carers to company-sponsored employee charityfund-raising or healthy lifestyle initiatives, employers will needto take a far more hands-on approach to ensuring workers' needs aremet in every aspect of their lives.

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Indeed, rewards and recognition programs are now being designedto be compatible with everything from fitness trackers to travelwebsites. We could see holistic online corporate reward programsthat reward not just work-related targets but also personaldevelopment goals such as training for a marathon or quittingsmoking. Incentives will also expand from the antiquated model ofcash bonuses to a more experiential focus, with employee rewardsincluding prizes such as adventurous trips abroad or vouchers foradrenaline-pumping excursions such as bungee jumps or safaris.

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In terms of how this would likely work in practice, data fromprogress towards aims like personal fitness goals could be includedalongside data on progress towards passing a workplacequalification in counting towards 'points' on employee scoreboards,leading to rewards such as gift experiences. Personal developmentgoals could be married with work-related targets as measures ofemployee self-development to be incentivized and rewarded. Thiscould incentivize greater productivity and the resulting data couldhelp employers reduce employee health insurance premiums orpersonalize rewards and incentives.

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Of course, improving workforce well-being and productivity is aneven greater challenge with an increasingly fragmented workforce ofremote workers and channel partners with very distinctcharacteristics. Yet companies can and should look to capitalize onthe recent explosion of digitization across sectors as well as thewidespread advent of social media to fundamentally redesign theirrewards and incentives programmed. Digital rewardsplatforms now allow companies to capture a myriad data on a widearray of differing characteristics, allowing businesses topersonalize their rewards schemes in response to the growingdiversity of the modern workforce and the younger generation'sunprecedented appetite for individual recognition andfulfillment.

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David Gould is CEO of CRWorldwide.


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