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The Well-being of Global Employees

Jun 10, 2021 Decorative image

The well-being of employees is a key component of business strategy for employers. It’s no secret that delighted staff members are the best brand ambassadors for a company, and companies recognize that healthy employees are more productive, less likely to take sick days and more engaged. After the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, stress, anxiety and mental health conditions increased, leading 83% of companies to re-evaluate their well-being strategy, and most plan to keep or increase their health and well-being spending.

And while well-being has encompassed more than just physical or mental health, but involves occupational, financial and social health as well, the pandemic led to an increased focus on those pieces.

Technology has played a huge role in navigating the crisis and contributed to companies hiring remote workers from around the world, making them more competitive.

The Importance of Well-Being in a Global Workforce

The global employee population can be divided into three categories: employees traveling abroad, employees relocating abroad, and employees hired abroad. They experience different issues compared to their colleagues that are important to acknowledge. 

According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), global employees face challenges through:

  • Language barriers – Language barriers disrupt inclusion efforts due to the difficulties for team members to connect and collaborate with one another.
  • Cultural differences – Being aware of cultural differences can be complex, but accounting for them is important to avoid anyone from feeling overlooked.
  • Working in different time zones – Different time zones makes scheduling cumbersome, but offering accommodations like shifting meeting times can go a long way.
  • Managing teams in different locations – Ensuring that everyone is united and feels like their voice is heard is critical when managing teams in different locations because it promotes harmony.
  • International laws – International laws can be a challenge for global employees because they must abide by unfamiliar rules abroad to avoid any penalties.
  • Unequal treatment among global teams – All of the above components can impact employees and raise feelings of unequal treatment.

Many expatriates experience a lack of inclusion, making them more likely to be pessimistic about the future of their company and increase feelings of not belonging. The Harvard Business Review has found that 10-20% of expatriates return home early from dissatisfaction and about 30% of expatriates do not perform at the expected levels of their supervisors.

Companies must create a plan of action to resolve these issues and to ensure their global employees feel equally valued.

How to Improve Global Well-Being

Optum has found that workplace well-being programs can help support a culture of health while improving employee engagement and productivity.

Now is the best time for companies to focus on implementing a holistic well-being program. An Optum Health and Wellness study found that globally, the average number of programs offered by an employer is 7 and they have proven to be 68% effective. 77% of employers have stated that wellness programs are essential to their employee benefits mix, which is more than double the employers from a decade ago.

Incorporating a holistic well-being program is a great way to solve the issues that global employee populations encounter because it offers several benefits. Having a holistic approach is crucial to addressing employee’s overall health, rather than only their physical and mental well-being. Wellness programs attract and retain talent, promote a more productive workforce, maintain or improve employee morale, and reduce absenteeism along with employees working while feeling unwell, known as presenteeism, according to Optum.

Assistance With Creating a Holistic Well-Being Program

Hylant has created a guide to implementing a holistic well-being program to help employers get the process started. The HR Pro’s Guide contains the steps necessary for making a successful well-being strategy and the reward companies will see in return.

Tanja Lumpp, Global Benefits Leader, Hylant Employee Benefits Practice