Last year, an estimated 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression, costing the British economy over £6.5 billion during 2016/17. Fortunately, employee wellbeing has started to become a more poignant focus of overall business strategy, as more and more organisations begin to understand the impact that wellbeing has on employee performance.
With so many workplace activities available, from lunchtime wellbeing talks, mindfulness sessions to office yoga, how do you as an employer know which will be the most beneficial to your employees? And how do you ensure that wellbeing is and continues to be a key focus?
We’ve compiled a few pointers to help you understand how to take a proactive approach to wellbeing in your business:
Get to Know Your Employees
There is no “right” approach to employee wellbeing because each case differs depending on the situation; stress triggers vary drastically from person to person, and will vary from workplace to workplace, with various internal and/or external factors at play. So before you build out a stress management programme for your organisation, you must first understand who you’re building it for and why they need it.
Establishing the why is very important, and is an integral first step to combating the problem. Is this a recent issue or a long term problem? Has a feeling of stress been cultivated within the team due to a breakdown of communication or major change? Are there bad relations between staff members? Or perhaps there are external factors at play affecting stress levels, such as a recent office move or long commutes.
The key is in defining what underpins employee well-being at work and then embedding both strategic and day to day activities that reinforce these to help employees to focus on their own wellness and increase the overall engagement and productivity of the workforce. – Corinne Williams, Head of HR at Simplyhealth
Understanding people’s behaviour and the reason for this behaviour is integral if you want to boost workplace wellbeing and productivity. Psychometric profiling and/or team constellations can give you the tools you need to improve team dynamics, help you understand how different personalities work together, and provide solutions that positively impact everyone.
Combine Physical and Mental Wellbeing
In the past, “workplace wellbeing” has focused on the more physical aspects of health. Cycle to work schemes, gym memberships and ergonomic desk setups have been a common feature of the modern office environment for some time now, and while these are great initiatives it’s important to remember that wellness isn’t all physical. Ignoring mental health can cost your business over £1,035 per employee per year in absences and can have significant impacts on workplace morale and productivity levels.
Unfortunately, mental health issues are often ignored because many employers don’t understand them and/or feel uncomfortable broaching the topic. It’s our mission to break the stigma surrounding mental health, and make these programmes as accepted and commonplace as a cycle to work scheme or a standing desk initiative.
A good starting point when introducing a workplace wellbeing programme is to be open with your employees, and start off small with non-obtrusive methods such as carrying out a wellbeing audit or an anonymous wellbeing survey. This will allow you to understand what the problems are, and help gauge your employees’ reaction to the change. Next steps could be to provide targeted wellbeing interventions for individuals and teams, such as confidential in-house coaching, burnout prevention and recovery programmes, or musculoskeletal health support; simple moves such as these can work wonders for stress levels, as employees will instantly feel more supported.
The worst thing you can do is to wait until stress becomes a significant problem before acting on it. There’s no time like the present; even if you haven’t noticed any warning signs, you never know what the future holds. Acting fast means that you are significantly reducing the likelihood of instances of stress and burnout in the future, and gives you an advantage over those businesses that have waited until after the damage has been done.
Through taking a proactive approach, you are laying the foundations for a happier, more productive workforce from the get-go, and a team that are well educated in the importance of wellbeing. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to work in an environment that encourages kindness, laughter and play? If your employees feel happy, stress-free and valued by your company, they will enjoy spending time at work and are less likely to leave.
What’s more, various studies indicate that businesses which prioritise employee wellbeing have higher engagement from employees, and more motivated, productive and profitable teams. Through adopting these initiatives, you are not only helping your business thrive, you are also doing your bit to make workplace wellbeing a norm.
What Is the Business Benefit?
Do you know the true value of workplace wellbeing? As well as positively impacting your employees’ mental health, when it comes to business benefits the stats really do speak for themselves. In the UK, stress currently accounts for 47% of short term absences and 53% of long term absences, while presenteeism (people coming into work despite being physically or mentally unwell) is also on the rise. This impacts organisations considerably in terms of lost productivity, output and thus revenue.
Through redirecting the focus to employee happiness, you will reduce overall costs, and may see a considerable growth in profitability. After all, happy employees are 12% more productive, which allows them to hit KPIs more quickly and extra time to dedicate to other projects.
Now is the time to take action. Small businesses need to follow in the footsteps of giants such as Google who invest heavily in employee wellbeing programmes, and turn the concept into a mandatory key performance indicator across the board, rather than simply a “nice to have”.
Take your first steps to creating a flexible wellness programme that benefits your employees as well as your profit margins. Get in touch to find out how our full-service, bespoke approach can transform your business for the better.