Survey: Employee health holding its own, but not showing rapid signs of improvement
July 19, 2023
For plan members, sponsors and administrators
With three years of survey data on hand, The Wellness Report paints a year-over-year picture showing that there’s still a lot of work to do to improve the health of employees who participate in the survey. By looking at the survey’s results over the last three years, employers have another valuable set of information to consider when making future decisions about their plans and programs.
Since Manulife began The Wellness Report in 2020, over 18,000 employees have shared their thoughts on the wellness efforts demonstrated by the organizations and leaders they work for. The survey uncovers the kinds of health-related issues employees are dealing with, it reveals roadblocks that might stand between employees and better health, and it measures how those issues and roadblocks affect employees’ performances at work.
“Looking at the results from 2020 through 2022, we see individuals continue to deal with a number of lifestyle risk factors. However, overall, we see that employee health has held its own, despite the stress that many people felt during the pandemic, its effects on access to care and fewer opportunities to stay physically active,” says Eric Pfeiffer, Senior Workplace Well-being Consultant at Manulife. “Without the efforts employers made to protect the health and wellness of their employees during those 3 years, it’s possible that we could be looking at results that are even more challenging.”
3-year trends from The Wellness Report
Results that are about the same or a little worse
The percentage of people who are eating fewer than 5 portions of fruits and vegetables each day is slightly higher
The percentage of people who are dealing with financial stress is higher
About half of survey participants continue to experience feelings of loneliness
Results that are about the same or a little better
A smaller percentage of people report sleeping less than 7 hours a night
The percentage of people experiencing at least 1 work-related mental health risk factor has decreased
People are becoming more self-aware about their health: In 2022, the percentage of employees who are at risk (with 4 or more risk factors*) but who believe they are in good health decreased. People are taking a more realistic view of their health.
*The Wellness Report looks at risk factors including alcohol consumption, nutrition, physical activity, smoking, sleep, physical health, mental health, and financial well-being.
Results that have worsened over time
Over the 3 years that the Wellness Report has been conducted, the number of productive days lost due to health-related absence and presenteeism has increased each year
2022 48.1 days
2021 41.2 days
2020 40.8 days
Results that have improved over time
One significant improvement that bodes well for future survey results is the number of participating organizations that report having a health and wellness strategy in place – a number that has improved steadily over the three years that The Wellness Report has been conducted.
Culture sets the tone
“While the results show that a number of employees still struggle with some aspects of their health or lifestyle risk factors, it’s encouraging to see that more organizations have a strategy in place for the health and wellness of their workforce,” says Pfeiffer. “But what the numbers also reveal is that a strategy or a benefits plan on their own are not enough. It’s those things – combined with leaders and a culture that foster wellness – that can make the difference.”
In the 2022 Wellness Report findings, the top 3 organizations consistently saw better survey results compared to the rest of the firms taking part in the survey. The top 3, determined by answers to questions about their workplace culture, environment, and existing wellness initiatives, showed fewer days lost to absenteeism and presenteeism amongst staff (Top 3 = 39 days lost; All others = 48 days lost).
“Fortunately, culture is something that employers have control over,” says Pfeiffer. “When senior managers demonstrate that the health of their employees is important to the success of the firm, and when those leaders are seen to be making healthy lifestyle choices themselves, it really sets the tone for the rest of the organization. It creates an atmosphere that encourages employees to more fully engage in the program.”
Pfeiffer adds, “My advice is for organizations to really think about how their workplace culture supports employee health and wellness. That’s a good starting point to help improve employee health and the results we’re seeing in the 2022 report.”
For more information on workplace culture, ask your Manulife representative about the Workplace Well-being team and how we can help.
Read more about The Wellness Report.
The Wellness Report is free for Manulife Group Benefits or Group Retirement customers, and after participating, qualifying organizations receive a free tailored health report. To learn more and sign up to participate, visit Manulife.ca
Since 2020, more than 18,300 employees and more than 170 organizations have participated in The Wellness Report: in 2022, 47 Manulife Group Benefits corporate customers participated, and 4,921 employees responded to the online surveys. The Wellness Report surveys were conducted in February, May, and October 2022.
In 2021, 70 Manulife Group Benefits corporate customers participated, and 7,251 employees responded to the online surveys. In 2020, 56 Manulife Group Benefits corporate customers participated, and 6,141 employees responded to the online surveys.
The Wellness Report, powered by Manulife Vitality for Group Benefits, is free for Manulife Group Benefits or Group Retirement customers, and after participating, qualifying organizations receive a free tailored health report. To learn more and sign up to participate, visit Manulife.ca