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6 challenges for wellness programmes in the era of “quitting culture”

Written by Staff Writer

September 19, 2023

By Nabeela Cassim Clinical Consultant Actuaries & Consultants and Anthea Towert, CFP® professional ·  Principal Consultant Advisory Solutions

In the last few years, we’ve become familiar with trending terms such as “The Great Resignation”, “Quiet Quitting”, and more recently “Climate Quitting”. These phrases capture the shifting tides of our modern workforce, showing the intricate dance between personal beliefs, career choices, and societal priorities.

 “The Great Resignation” gained notoriety globally as waves of employees across various industries and backgrounds decided that the status quo of the pre-pandemic working world no longer aligned with their life goals. It was a wake-up call to employers, prompting them to reevaluate workplace policies and benefits to fit the changing needs of their workforce.

“Quiet Quitting”, on the other hand, brought into focus the silent discontent that often simmers beneath the surface of organisations. Employees practising “quiet-quitting” don’t make a grand exit but gradually disengage, leaving their enthusiasm and passion behind as they seek fulfilment in other areas of their lives. This happens quietly and subtly as individuals distance themselves emotionally from work, ultimately eroding productivity and company culture.

 Now, as our planet grapples with climate change, we’re witnessing the rise of “climate-quitting.” This term reflects a new dimension of workplace satisfaction, where employees increasingly weigh up the environmental impact of their roles and their employer’s actions on their career choices. For these individuals, tackling climate change isn’t just an abstract concept; it’s a personal mission that guides their career path.

In this shifting landscape of work and values, we find ourselves at a critical junction where the boundaries between personal belief systems and the workplace are more fluid than ever before. This leads us to question whether our employee wellness programmes are as effective as they should be.

  1. Lack of personalisation


One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to wellness. Many programmes offer standardised solutions that may not meet the individual needs of employees and call attention to unfairness amongst employees. Personalisation and equal access are key to effective wellness initiatives. A programme that aims to make employees’ work and personal lives more meaningful will most likely lead to lasting change.


2. The sustainability challenge

 Short-term engagement doesn’t necessarily translate into long-term health improvements. Some wellness programmes lack sustainability and fail to produce lasting behavioural change. The challenge here is to design initiatives that encourage not just short bursts of enthusiasm but an ongoing commitment to health and well-being.

3. Stressing participation over well-being

Some programmes unconsciously create stress or competition among employees by over-emphasising participation measurement. For instance, tracking steps or attendance at wellness workshops can turn these activities into stressors rather than stress relievers. A balance between encouraging participation and fostering a relaxed, supportive environment is crucial.

4. A holistic view of well-being

 While physical health undoubtedly holds importance, wellness initiatives often give priority to mental health and financial well-being. Neglecting mental health can result in burnout and reduced productivity, as we have seen from the post-pandemic depression crisis. To establish truly holistic wellness programmes, employers should place equal emphasis on mental health and financial well-being support and education.

5. Navigating resistance, scepticism and privacy concerns

Resistance and scepticism among employees can hinder the success of wellness programmes, with some perceiving them as intrusive. Clear communication about the programme’s intentions and benefits is essential to overcome these obstacles. Moreover, the privacy predicament arises when employees are required to share personal health data, sparking concerns about data security and confidentiality. 

To build trust, employers must implement robust data protection measures and maintain transparent communication, ensuring that employees feel secure in sharing their information.

 6. Measurement and evaluation

Oftentimes, organisations make assumptions about the effectiveness of their workplace wellness programmes, relying on what service providers and vendors offer. However, without proper measurement and evaluation, it’s challenging to determine if these initiatives are delivering tangible benefits. Many employers find themselves without the data needed for accurate decision-making. To ensure continual improvement in wellness offerings, adopting a data-driven approach is essential.


Creating a culture of workplace well-being

Managers and leaders are pivotal to workplace wellness, considering the substantial time employees spend at work, whether on-site or remotely. While workplace well-being programmes empower individuals to take charge of their health, it’s equally crucial to assist managers and leaders in fostering a culture that prioritises well-being.

Organisations should empower their leaders to understand workload balance, identify work-related stressors, and promote psychological safety, even amidst personal challenges. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it also cultivates a culture of workplace wellness, resulting in increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and enhanced employee morale.



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