In 1991, R.E.M. released a catchy anthem called “Shiny, Happy People.” It’s a lighthearted pop tune that is easy to dismiss (if hard to get out of your head). And yet it speaks some simple truths: shiny, happy people lead to shiny, happy employees.

Creating “shiny, happy” employees

We spend half of our waking lives at work, and our environment, colleagues and company policies have a demonstrable impact on our well-being. After all, behavior is frequently a reflection of how and where we spend our time. Wellness in the workplace, then, is an increasingly important topic of conversation, reinforced by a low national unemployment rate and high demand for talent.  

Organizations are taking note. Recent HCI research finds health and wellness benefits are primary drivers that attract talent in this tight market. Healthcare coverage is the epitome, but less noteworthy — and less costly — offerings like wellness education and service opportunities are also tools to attract, engage and retain employees. The underlying premise: approaching employees holistically, providing resources for both their personal and professional needs, is good for people and it is good for business.

Keys to wellness

What organization can afford to miss out on outcomes like that?

Firms that want to invest in organizational health and wellness should evaluate six elements: money, meaning competitive salarie, personal finance education and retirement benefits/plans; work, meaning provided clear roles and responsibilies in a welcoming and respectful environment; health and well-being, meaning competitive health insurance, on-site fitness centers and stress management; family, meaning paid family leave and child and elder care benefits; growth, meaning learning and development programs along with career management plans; and time, meaning remote work opportunities and flexible scheduling.

Each of these provides organizations with myriad ideas to address and prioritize the health and well-being of employees. Many of these programs and processes can be implemented in organizations with limited resources, and investment is tied to increased engagement and higher productivity. What organization can afford to miss out on outcomes like that?

Happiness is not a guarantee, but the message is clear and so is the risk: enabling employees to bring their “whole selves” to work is a benefit to people and the organizations they serve. And if this message is muddied and the health and well-being of the workforce no longer warrants organizational time and resources, it will be the end of the world as we know it; shiny, happy people be damned.