In recent years employee wellbeing has moved up our collective agenda: mainstream media are talking about it, companies are embracing it and people from celebrities to entrepreneurs are sharing their wellbeing journeys.
This is great news, as five years ago here at Discover Your Bounce we were labelled by some as doing ‘hippy stuff’ or asked whether companies would be interested in that ‘fluff’. This was despite our customers being high street banks, governing associations and large SMEs.
We now seem to be in a period of constant change, environmentally, economically and organisationally, so how do we continually adapt to the wellbeing needs of our people, while keeping up to date with the rest of our business needs?
Improving the physical health of your employees can positively impact mental health too, as well as productivity and the life of the employee outside of work
Why are you supporting employee wellbeing?
It may be a good time to look at the reasons behind and benefits of having a wellbeing strategy. Some of the obvious benefits include:
- Attracting and retaining talent
- Increased employee morale and engagement
- A healthier and more inclusive culture
- Reduced staff absence and presenteeism
We know that attracting and retaining talent is increasingly hard in today’s environment and that a wellbeing policy and calendar of activities can be a reason that new employees are attracted to your business.
According to a British Heart Foundation study, there was between a £2 and £34 return on investment for businesses for every £1 put into wellbeing initiatives. Similarly, Garton and Mankins’s Research showed that successful companies are the ones that have found ways to engage and inspire their workforces:
“According to our research, an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a merely satisfied worker. And an inspired employee — one who has a profound personal connection to their work and/or their company ― is 55% more productive than an engaged employee, or more than twice as productive as a satisfied worker. The better an organization is engaging and inspiring its employees, the better its performance”
Further research by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) found that:
- 51% cite mental health and wellbeing as a worry
- 48% think a great work/life balance is a key attraction factor for employment
- 58% of respondents cited job security as a key concern
It seems to be a worrying time for the employee, so having a wellbeing strategy that is promoted and celebrated can help employees to feel safe and supported. This of course is only one part of a whole picture that includes salary, benefits and working standards.
When we are busy and stressed, it’s so easy to forget the basics and so regular reminders can allow us to check in
Going back to employee wellbeing basics
Perhaps it’s time to look at what you are setting out to achieve and how you can ensure your results are hitting the mark. For example, asking questions like: ‘What does the business need?’, ‘What do your teams need?’, ‘What do individuals need?’, ‘What has worked in the past?’ and ‘Which current challenges could be improved by wellbeing activities?’ can help you refocus your priorities.
When looking at wellbeing activities, it’s important to look broader than just mental health and mental health first aiders. Improving the physical health of your employees can positively impact mental health too, as well as productivity and the life of the employee outside of work.
Educating your leadership team about emotional intelligence, social styles and managing mental health can improve communication and relationships, as well as reduce the workload of the HR team. Skills workshops like time management, mental health awareness and improving sleep can be useful, we can sometimes assume people know everything, but even if they do it can be a useful revision. When we are busy and stressed, it’s so easy to forget the basics and so regular reminders can allow us all to check in.
How has your organisation changed?
Track back over the last two years – what has changed? Are you operating in different ways, perhaps hybrid working or fully working from home? Has the demographic of your employees changed? Are you working with different customers, or producing a different product? Have you been strategic with your wellbeing activities and have they been well received? Have you had management buy in for your activities? Have you seen an improvement in morale or staff attendance as a result of your wellbeing efforts?
Time to get strategic with employee wellbeing
When deciding how to spend your time maybe think of up to three challenges that you could address. A policy doesn’t have to be pages long, but writing down your plan will allow you to check back. If you have a health and safety document, perhaps wellbeing could be part of this? Perhaps conduct a staff survey first, or a focus group across departments? What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are you going to track?
There are practical initiatives that work well too – like having two hours a day for people to do ‘deep work’ where no meetings are scheduled
Where I have seen the greatest success is where an organisation embeds wellbeing into its everyday activities, with a little and often approach. From having a Zen room to a monthly walking challenge. We have delivered Ikigai and menopause awareness workshops, also having a wellbeing pop-up where staff are invited to take an hour out to talk about their wellbeing or partake in a mindfulness exercise.
There are practical initiatives that work well too – like having two hours a day for people to do ‘deep work’ where no meetings are scheduled. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise: trying new things, scrapping what doesn’t work and making small, incremental changes can make your wellbeing strategy fun. And an organisation that does something will fare better than one that does nothing.