6 Ways to Improve Wellbeing at Work
Gone are the days of treating employees as though you’re the Headmaster/ Headmistress and they are the naughty school children who will destroy your business the minute your back is turned. We are dealing instead with fully fledged human adults who are emotional beings with feelings and wellbeing needs. I suppose the fact that employees are referred to as resources or headcount or FTE (my worst) dehumanises them in many ways, making it easier for some to not care about a simple ‘resource’ (def: a useful or valuable possession or quality of a country, organisation or person CED) or the impact of the decisions made about them. It is important that we don’t ever lose sight of the “human” part of human resources.
While the “old guard” talk of the “good old days” and how current generations have ‘gone soft’, it is important for us all to remember and consider that circumstances and what we will tolerate changes as knowledge and understanding develops (just think of the once common Victorian Workhouses) and then of course, calling people names never really changes hearts and minds. The best way to engage employees now is to look after their wellbeing while they are in the service of your business, so that they look after the business and its customers in return.
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the business. Engaged employees care about their work and the business, and want to see it develop and grow, they are not just there for the money. Engaged employees can’t wait to go to work and work at higher levels of productivity generating better output and more revenue. Higher wellbeing means more engagement and more engagement means increases in:
- Profits – a reduction in costs related to employee turnover and absence, coupled with increased productivity leads to an increase in profits.
- Employee retention – happy employees don’t need to leave, so they don’t need to be replaced.
- Productivity (efficiency + efficacy) – happier employees are more productive because they are more focused on getting the job done rather than focusing on the cause of their misery.
- Performance – improved productivity and lower employee turnover improves performance of the team as a whole because of the removal of the requirement to train new team members.
- Attendance – well cared for employees don’t use as many sick days.
- Team connection – engaged employees that care about the business also care about other team members and create a strong connection.
- Top talent acquisition – the top talent in every industry goes where they are valued and treated well.
Wellbeing in the workplace relates to all aspects of being employed by a company, the work environment, the boss(es), the colleagues, the work itself and your feelings about your day-to-day activities of work.
The UK CIPD (Chartered Institute for Professional Development) conducted research into ‘Health and Well-being at Work’ in April 2021, which identified mental ill-health is the number one cause of long-term absence (50%), with musculoskeletal injuries (Neck strains and repetitive strain injury, including back pain) and stress coming joint second main causes of short and long-term absence (48%). All of these are wellbeing issues.
Employee wellbeing is how duties, expectations, stress, work environment affect the employee’s overall health and happiness. Wellbeing is of course so much more than a few fruit baskets around the office and a table football game and slides in the corner. It is a holistic practice that takes in the whole of an employee’s wellbeing, allowing the employee to feel valued, supported and doing work that is meaningful. Wellbeing covers:
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Work Life
- Personal Development/ Growth
- Values and Ethics
These are the same (or similar) topics that appear on the “Wheel of Life” used in life coaching, because they matter inside and outside of the workplace. If they matter to you as a manager or company owner, then they matter to your employees too. Then there’s the continual lockdowns and work from home orders during the global pandemic, which have led to a reported increase in employees feeling higher levels or isolation and loneliness, as well as burnout.
- Raise the profile of Mental Health
- Ask for volunteer team members to attend company provided training to become Mental Health First Aiders.
- Provide managers with training on supporting team members Mental Ill Health.
- Provide access to counselling services.
- Train teams on personal resilience.
- Make provision for flexible working to remove the stress of needing to leave at a specific time or having to take a day off to attend medical appointments. Allowing people to manage how they work makes them more productive and less stressed. Stress kills, not add to it.
2. Don’t let workplace squabbles fester
- Provide managers with training on conflict resolution and having difficult conversations so that they are empowered to handle work place disagreements as soon as possible to prevent them becoming unmanageable issues.
3. Encourage social interaction in the team
- But don’t limit team building events to nights in the pub, not everyone likes to attend evening work events due to other commitments and not everyone drinks alcohol.
- Give employees a voice by enabling participation and removing alcohol stimulus.
4. Encourage and teach regular 360 feedback
- Feedback is only really effective if it is honest, well-meaning and not driven by company targets and goes both ways.
- An employee and a manager should feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback on what they are doing well and what they can improve on, but please avoid the ‘shit sandwich’ (good news sandwiching either side of a bad new filling).
- If an employee excels at a certain area, give them recognition do not mark them down because of the ‘bell curve’.
5. Promote self-care
- Encourage employees to take breaks, stand up and move away from their screens frequently.
- Sitting for extended periods has known negative implications for our health and should be avoided.
- You could ask them to factor in fitness activities, good lifestyle choices, active, healthy eating, diving into their financial wellbeing and other types of wellbeing activities, but it’s probably seen as quite patronising.
Create a good work environment
- Implement good management standards and hold them to account.
- Place realistic demands on your employees and don’t expect them to give up their whole lives in return for a salary.
- Ask yourself – do your employees have what they need to do their best work? For example, I often see jobs advertised that offer “Pension, sick leave, maternity cover and annual leave” as a benefit. These ARE NOT benefits, these items are the legally required minimum.
And remember, the well-being of employees is a key factor in determining the future success and productivity of a business. Pissed off employees don’t speak well of their employers, their services or the company as a whole, a quick visit to your company page on Glassdoor will confirm this. If you need help with a Wellbeing plan in your workplace, get in touch.