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Why an Effective Wellbeing Strategy for your Employees Matters
How do your employees feel when they get into work? Happy? Committed? Full of energy? Or are they feeling under pressure. Stressed? Unwell? Unable to cope? Wellbeing at work may seem like a fluffy term for the new age of business but making sure that your staff feel good about the workplace can set you apart as a great employer and boost performance and productivity in the process.
How good your staff feel about working for you is vital to your bottom line.
What is Wellbeing?
Wellbeing is how people function, feel about themselves and evaluate their lives on a day to day basis. It can be affected by physical health (good or bad) but also by mental stresses. It’s not a simple case of happiness quotients ticked off in a box but has a much broader scope than that.
It enables us to take a snapshot of a person’s life and develop strategies to make things better. It doesn’t just include financial considerations but goes beyond that to emotional and social fulfilment. For businesses, it is important to understand wellbeing in the context of their employees for the simple reason that it can promote better health, reduce time off due to sickness and absence, and improve productivity.
Having no supportive work environment to promote wellbeing has been shown to:
- Change people’s perception of health problems and make them feel worse.
- Delay recovery from a variety of illnesses such as back pain leading to more days off work.
- Lead to largely negative coping strategies such as excessive drinking.
The importance of a workforce that is engaged and has the tools on hand to cope with problems that may arise such as physical and mental health issues is important to modern businesses. If employees feel cared for then they are more likely to stay working for the same company. Yet, over two thirds of business have no current strategy in place to measure physical and mental health in the workplace.
The difficult part is putting in a process that can uncover how your staff are feeling and then developing the strategies to cope with this. Problems surround mental health issues with almost 67% of workers feeling either too embarrassed or frightened that they might lose their job to discuss the subject. That creates a big challenge for organisations across the board.
In order to measure wellbeing effectively, you need to create an open culture which gives employees the opportunity and the confidence to speak out. This is no easy thing for a company that may have long standing employees who are used to the business operating in certain ways.
Questionnaires are a good way to gather information in the first place, as are discussion and focus groups to ascertain how your staff are feeling. With some organisations it’s more about getting employees to trust the process and a lot of work might have to done to prove that you are serious about wellbeing in the workplace. Putting the right questions to your staff is also a delicate balancing act – you aren’t necessarily trying to find out how they feel about your organisation but how they rate their own wellbeing in general.
Organisations like the New Economics Forum suggest blocks of short questions to get to the essence of wellbeing in the workplace, rating statements about feelings and thoughts across a broad spectrum. These include simple questions such as ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?” (rated on a scale of 1-10), or ‘I’ve been dealing with problems well’ (rated from none of the time through to all of the time).
What to Do With the Data
Results from your wellbeing measurements may well tell you that your employees are actually well balanced or are having problems or are somewhere in between. The results, however, are only the starting point. Introducing measures that lead to a change in perception and wellbeing is another thing altogether.
Do you bring in benefits such as gym membership to help make employees fitter? Do you encourage evenings out to create a better bond between staff members? Then there’s the question of the measures that are introduced to cope with employees who have mental health issues and need help and guidance, as well as the process you have in place if they need to take some time off work.
Creating a culture of wellbeing within the workplace is an important part of business operation in today’s fast paced world. The companies that fail to embrace it are missing out on huge benefits not least in financial terms and improved productivity. It creates staff who are secure in their work and produces brand ambassadors who are happy to tell their friends and family what a great company you are to work for.
Yes, it takes work to put the strategy in place and follow it through but the effort is worth it if you want a viable business for the future that cares for the health and wellbeing of its employees.