7 trends transforming organisational wellbeing in 2024

By Katrina Johnston, Director, Wellness Designs

In recent years, supporting employee wellbeing has transitioned from a ‘nice-to-have’ to business critical. As we navigate a period of ongoing change and uncertainty, we also must continue to evolve our approach.

So what will shape the landscape of wellbeing at work for 2024 and beyond?

In our recent webinar ‘7 trends transforming organisational wellbeing in 2024’, we were joined by expert panelists Katie Johnson, Director – NSW/QLD/WA from The Safe Step and Dr Gary Webb, PhD, Regional Health and Wellbeing Manager at Mars Inc, 2023 Global Healthy Workplace Awards Winner. We uncovered the future of organisational wellbeing, job market trends in the field and what employers are seeking, and how to propel your career forward in the industry.

Drawn from real-world practitioner and employer insights, here’s a sneak peak of the top 7 trends:

#1: A strategic (& integrated) approach remains key

 The latest AON Global Wellbeing Survey revealed greater importance is being placed on employee wellbeing with a shift towards a more strategic approach (versus ‘Wellbeing Washing’). However, whilst 83% have a strategy in place (an increase of 28% on previous), only 41% have a fully integrated strategy. Hence, a more “systemic” approach is still required which joins the dots (with the likes of ESG, DEI, good work design, safety and employee experience) to drive engagement, innovation, performance and attract and retain talent. However, in the current challenging economic terrain marked by rising cost pressures and heightened workloads, we’re seeing attention and budgets directed to compliance and/or drives for efficiency. This is despite employee wellbeing being rated as the #1 people risk by Australian HR and risk managers. To that end, the momentum gained in recent years risks fading without sustained effort.

#2. Everyone’s talking about….mental health at work

Awareness at both an employer and employee level is certainly at an all-time high. Following the rollout of psychosocial risk codes of practice across Australia, amendments to WHS regulation, the Respect@Work bill, and now Gender Pay gap discussions, this is unlikely to slow soon. The latest SafeWork Australia research shows claims for mental health conditions have increased more than any other type of injury or illness the past 10 years, with compensation payouts and absences almost 4 times larger than other injuries. Plus, 1 in 3 Australian workers report symptoms of burnout and 1 in 4 have been exposed to a harmful experience in the past 12 months. A recent survey of 170 senior Australian business leaders found most are not getting the data they need to manage psychosocial risks, and the need for greater collaboration between HR and safety.

 #3: Organisations (& employees) are flexing their muscles

This year is emerging as pivotal to reshaping the work landscape, shifting from uncertainty post-pandemic to more well-defined norms regarding how and where we work. This will centre on what’s best for productivity, collaboration, engagement, psychological health, and wellbeing. Driving factors include RTO mandates, WFH rights for award workers being considered by the Fair Work Commission, the introduction of a wider range of flexible working arrangements (e.g. compressed 4 day week) and the proposed Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Bill 2023 for the right to disconnect outside of working hours.

#4: Navigating messy transitions

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to supporting employee wellbeing, particularly with up to 5 generations now working in organisations. This requires getting to the heart of employee wellbeing issues, and approaching from a more inclusion-based lens to engage different groups (e.g. Gen Z/Millennials are more likely to engage with virtual mental health support). Ultimately, it’s about building a supportive culture in more effective and creative ways to help employees navigate life’s transitions (e.g. grief, menopause, divorce, unpaid carers in the workforce).

#5: Closing the capability gap

Increased and excessive demands are being placed on leaders to achieve organisational goals, facilitate regulatory changes, all while safeguarding their own and others wellbeing. Australian research confirms supporting employee wellbeing continues to be the #1 stressor for HR professionals, and is one of the top 5 key HR skills required post pandemic. However, only 36.1% of HR and business leaders felt confident their team had the skills. Based on the shift towards a more integrated approach to health, safety and people management, we’re also seeing a broadening of traditional safety and HR roles to encompass wellbeing (e.g. Director Safety and Wellbeing).

#6. Financial wellness remains a concern

With 37% of Australians reporting cost of living pressures as the greatest issue negatively impacting their mental health, there’s never been a more important time to support the financial wellbeing of employees. This includes Gen Z and millennials who are just starting out their careers, rising poly-employment, and many older workers facing ‘unretirement’. Organisations are at risk of not only losing employees to more competitive compensation packages, but  productivity due to financial distractions in the workplace.

 #7. Applied AI & wellbeing is becoming a differentiator

The potential for AI to enhance employee wellbeing is vast and still unfolding, including ethical and privacy considerations. It has the ability to revolutionise employee wellbeing by enhancing accessibility, destigmatising mental health conversations, and enabling early detection and prevention, more personalised wellness solutions, triaging whilst awaiting human intervention, and real-time monitoring, feedback and support. Not to mention for providers as a key differentiator, including facilitating more time to focus on meaningful and humane work to optimise the client experience. An exciting space to watch!

Here is a snippet below from Dr Gary Webb, PhD, who explains that the best programs are holistic and they are integrated into the business where they bring together multiple functions that work synergistically to deliver mutual outcomes.

Keen to stay ahead of the curve in this burgeoning industry? For further insights and inspiration, The Hub members can catch the full webinar recording here.

Or if you’re keen to learn how to best leverage these trends for an impactful organisational wellbeing strategy, we’d love to chat further regarding our end-to-end services. Book a free 15 minute Discovery call here.