Organizational Wellness

How to Elevate Quality of Life at Work: A Comprehensive Guide to Employee Wellbeing

Aug 21, 2016
Last Updated May 22, 2024

The traditional 9-5 job is no longer the standard work environment in every industry— and employees are looking for better benefits like remote work and employee health perks. In other words, people care about the quality of life at work more than ever! 

“Quality of Working Life,” or QWL, is the holistic experience of employees within an organization. This isn’t just about what work itself is like: It includes the employee’s physical and emotional wellbeing while on the job. 

Prioritizing QWL efforts can combat the burnout and stress that even the most passionate employees face. These tips on quality of life at work can help HR create a thriving environment for current and prospective coworkers.


What is Quality of Life at Work? Why Does it Matter?

HR and leadership use QWL to gauge the merit of an employee’s experience within an organization. Basic working conditions and wage concerns are always a priority for the workforce, but the workforce has evolved. Today, employees have broadened their expectations and value more comprehensive wellbeing. QWL especially aims to examine the social and cultural aspects of work — including factors such as company culture and the impact of work-life wellness.

Adopting a QWL approach in organizations is not merely a matter of altruism, either. It is a strategic decision that can yield some tangible benefits. A workplace that prioritizes the wellbeing of its employees tends to experience increased job satisfaction and improved productivity. 

Employees who feel their QWL and overall employee experience are prioritized are more likely to be motivated and committed to the organization's success. Because of this increased engagement, organizations that embrace a QWL mindset often enjoy lower turnover and reduced absenteeism.

Factors Influencing Quality of Life at Work

Beyond traditional job satisfaction factors, QWL considers these wellbeing basics:

  • Job Satisfaction
  • Workplace Stress
  • Financial Reimbursement
  • Work-Life Wellness
  • Working Conditions
  • Job Environment

Job Satisfaction

How content are your employees? This helps determine your workforce’s job satisfaction and directly impacts QWL. Several elements contribute to job satisfaction. 

For some, it’s the alignment of job responsibilities with individual skills and interests. Many people need opportunities for skill development and growth, such as furthering their education. Having goals—beyond the day-to-day grind—creates a sense of purpose and satisfaction for most people. This is where personalized development plans for employees can boost QWL.

Good old-fashioned employee recognition for someone’s achievements can go a long way, too—and so can positive relationships with colleagues and supervisors. A culture that celebrates and values one another results in a workforce that enjoys coming to work and shares ideas or concerns freely—a direct indicator of high QWL. 

Workplace Stress

Another common challenge that significantly affects QWL is workplace stress. Stress arises from scenarios like excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines. Additionally, it can stem from interpersonal conflicts or a lack of control over one’s work.

At its worst, prolonged stress can lead to burnout and adverse physical and mental wellness effects. Organizations that prioritize employee health and wellbeing actively address stress by offering solutions like workload management training or conflict resolution seminars.

Financial Reimbursement

Fair compensation is an important part of providing a high quality of life at work.  Inadequate pay can cause financial stress, which is directly linked to poor health  — a recent survey from Bankrate found that 52% of Americans said that money has a negative impact on their mental health. A full 66% of people say their financial situation distracts them from work, according to Wellhub’s The State of Work-Life Wellness 2024.

In addition to a solid salary or hourly wage, you can support employee wellbeing with a competitive compensation package. This includes financial benefits such as retirement plans, budgeting apps, healthcare coverage, and performance-based bonuses.

Work-Life Wellness

Supporting wellbeing at work is critical to providing quality of life at work. As our State of Work-Life Wellness 2024 report found, 93% of workers consider their wellbeing at work to be equally important to their salary. That’s an increase from 2022, when 83% of workers said the same thing. 

Organizations that support work-life wellness may offer flexible work arrangements and generous leave and vacation policies to help employees practice greater balance. This promotes a culture that values time outside of work. It’s a win-win situation — employees who can maintain a satisfying work-life wellness are more likely to feel less stressed and more engaged at work, which adds to their quality of life overall. 

Work-Life Wellness 2024.png

Working Conditions 

Working conditions cover the physical and safety aspects of the workplace that affect employees' health and daily activities. You can better focus on QWL  and create a healthy workplace by considering such factors. For example, ergonomic practices help prevent strain and injury in an office setting. You can even support remote-work employees by providing ergonomic office equipment for their at-home space.

Employee QWL is also impacted by how clean and comfortable the environment is—which is affected by things like temperature and noise reduction. This ultimately boosts productivity, as does providing high-quality, reliable tools and technology.

Job Environment

Roughly one in five employees describe their workplace as toxic, which only detracts from the quality of work life. To prevent this toxicity, organizations can implement a more supportive and positive work culture

One way to achieve this is to create effective communication channels. Organizations can implement feedback mechanisms to make sure that employees have the opportunity to express their needs or concerns. They can also hold regular meetings to keep everyone on the same page and openly discuss expectations.

These efforts make the workplace more transparent and inclusive so that collaborative projects add to QWL, not detract. A positive job environment helps retain talent and keeps employees engaged and productive.

Strategies to Enhance Quality of Life at Work

It may feel like there are an overwhelming amount of steps you can take to boost QWL. The good news is, you can narrow your strategy down to a couple of key practices! These ideas can help your organization create a strong foundation for better QWL.


Limit Working Hours

Employers can encourage employees to set clear boundaries by defining specific working hours. This can be achieved by promoting the importance of disconnecting from work outside these hours and implementing flexible scheduling or remote work options when feasible.

Acknowledge and Reward Hard Work 

Another great way to increase the quality of work life is to create a robust recognition program and wellness incentives that celebrate achievements of all kinds. You can start by regularly acknowledging employees' efforts through praise, awards, or bonuses to boost motivation and job satisfaction. Whether it’s a shoutout on your communication channel or a bonus on someone’s anniversary, a little acknowledgment can go a long way.

Break Up Routines

Incorporating a small break or mindfulness session into your wellness program can re-energize employees. Organizations can do this by encouraging physical activity and providing spaces for relaxation — you might even try creating a workplace wellness challenge to get people invested.

Invest in Employee Development

Employee wellness also encapsulates employee growth. People need opportunities to develop themselves professionally so that they aren’t stagnant and dissatisfied. Employers can offer such opportunities with skill development training, mentorship programs, online courses, and continuous learning resources. For example, employers can offer tuition reimbursement for employees interested in obtaining more schooling.

Building a Positive Culture 

Culture is a core component of quality of life at work — it shapes the everyday experiences and interactions of employees. This means that it impacts their engagement and overall sense of satisfaction and belonging. 

To foster a positive culture, it’s important to promote open communication and empathy among leadership to set the tone for the company. Empathic leadership involves understanding and addressing the needs and aspirations of employees, which helps build trust. By modeling empathy, leaders can effectively respond to employee concerns and encourage greater teamwork. 

To show care and trust, organizations can also implement regular check-ins or one-on-ones between managers and team members. This can be a time to discuss performance, but to also check in on an employee’s wellbeing or any challenges they are facing. 

How to Improve Your Employees’ Quality of Life at Work (Step-by-Step)

So you’re ready to take QWL by the horns — what are your next steps? You can use these simple steps to introduce real change toward a high-quality work life.

Step 1: Assessment and Needs Analysis

A good place to start is identifying current QWL issues and employee needs. Organizations can conduct HR surveys, gather feedback, and assess the work environment to pinpoint areas requiring improvement. It’s just as important to ask what is working well — HR can double down on this positive feedback and continue in an upward projection.

Step 2: Strategic Planning

Next, it’s time to put a plan in place. Leaders can develop a QWL strategy that aligns with company goals and values and addresses your identified issues. Start by putting clear objectives in place for enhancing your employee experience, such as improving employee engagement or reducing turnover rates. This gives you a target to aim for and a way to measure your progress.

Step 3: Program Design and Implementation

From there, you can design policies and programs aimed at improving QWL. For example, if your goal is to provide more career development opportunities, you can create a mentorship program. Let’s say you want to foster more positivity in the workplace — then you can establish regular team-building activities to strengthen those working relationships. 

Step 4: Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation

Following up on the outcomes of your strategy is a great way to keep your upward momentum of QWL. You can regularly assess the impact of QWL programs and initiatives, using metrics and employee feedback to understand their effectiveness. Analyzing metrics like turnover rates, employee engagement scores, and performance management indicators can give you insights on how to build upon your efforts. 

Step 5: Cultivating a QWL Culture

Finally, remember that your culture impacts every aspect of a company, so help your employees view QWL as a core value of your organization. You can do this by regularly communicating your QWL goals in company meetings or even in a weekly newsletter. These efforts show that QWL is not just a policy, but a continuous priority that drives tangible benefits. It’s especially wise to communicate your initiatives with employees as you launch them so that everyone can actually use the program and reap the benefits early on.

How to Measure QWL: Metrics and Methods

There are all kinds of metrics you can use to measure the QWL, meaning you can select the ones that work best for your organization

  • Employee Surveys: Anonymous surveys can be used to collect feedback on various aspects of QWL, including job satisfaction, work-life wellness, workplace culture, and stress levels. Questions can be both quantitative (e.g., rating scales) and qualitative (open-ended questions) to gain deeper insights.
  • Employee Engagement Surveys: You can also get more specific and measure engagement levels to gauge how committed to and satisfied employees are in their roles. In employee engagement surveys, you can ask questions that gauge how employees view their work-life wellness or if they feel like they contribute to the company’s success.
  • Absenteeism and Turnover Rates: Unsatisfied employees may not be very present at work or the organization may experience a lot of turnover. Monitoring employee absenteeism and the turnover rate can be an indicator for issues with QWL. HR can also analyze exit interviews for insights into why employees are leaving to identify parts of the employee experience that can be improved.
  • Productivity Metrics: Productivity is another marker for employee engagement and the quality of the work environment. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to exert extra effort and take initiative. Try tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to each role to assess the impact of QWL on productivity and employee development. From there, you can compare performance metrics before and after implementing QWL initiatives.
  • Focus Groups and Interviews: For a more interpersonal experience, organizations can conduct focus groups or one-on-one interviews with employees. This helps leaders gather in-depth qualitative insights into the workforce’s QWL experiences.
  • External Benchmarking: It’s hard to self-evaluate as a company, so organizations can also compare QWL metrics with industry benchmarks. This gives them some perspective on how the organization's QWL measures up to competitors and peers.

Increase Quality of Life With a  Wellness Program

Quality of life at work is more than a buzzword — it's a cornerstone of both employee wellbeing and organizational success. Prioritizing QWL helps foster a workplace where employees are not just productive, but also healthier and more engaged. 

A powerful way to put QWL into practice is through a wellness program. Wellness programs not only provide resources and opportunities for employees, but they also have organizational benefits. In fact, 90% of companies that measure their wellness program’s return see a positive ROI.

To embark on this transformative journey and build out wellbeing programs for your employees, talk with a Wellbeing Specialists — your partner dedicated to helping organizations provide wellness initiatives that elevate QWL. 

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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