The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of employee wellbeing. One survey found that 36% of employees struggled with their mental health because of the way they were working during the pandemic.
11 million days a year are lost due to workplace stress, so this is clearly a pressing issue. Employee wellbeing should be a priority in any business, regardless of your sector. Employees who feel they are being looked after are happier and more satisfied with their job and their workplace. Happy employees are also more productive and loyal to their business.
If you don’t have a formal strategy in place and you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got some insights from Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, to help guide you through implementing a comprehensive and successful workplace wellbeing strategy.
Understand what employee wellbeing means in your business
Wellbeing can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s the overarching matter of employees’ workplace experience, happiness, and satisfaction, and it branches into a number of areas. It feeds directly into the performance of the business and affects morale, staffing, and productivity.
For others, it’s a laser focus on mental health in the workplace and comes with the availability of counselling and mental health support. Some businesses focus on physical health support with healthy eating and activity initiatives. In reality, there is no one definition, but it covers many of these elements.
How a workplace and an employee’s role affects them personally is a key tenet of employee wellbeing. Initiatives to reduce stress and workload in the workplace are where many businesses start with their wellbeing strategy. This is especially important as work is the biggest cause of stress in the UK.
Gauge your employees’ baseline wellbeing
When creating an employee wellbeing strategy, it’s important to tailor it to your business and your people. Frontline NHS workers will have starkly different wellbeing needs than employees at an accounting firm.
Engage your employees to find out what they need support with and what they’d like to see from a wellbeing strategy. Many corporations will jump into this head-first and incorporate trendy initiatives like relaxation areas without consulting their employees when what they really want is more support for their emotional wellbeing.
Carrying out a confidential survey into the existing wellbeing of your employees is recommended because you’ll be able to identify trends, such as people struggling with anxiety since returning to the office. A further exploration of what your people want and expect from a wellbeing strategy will help you prioritise your initiatives.
Identify your priorities
Once you’ve received feedback from your employees, it’s time to put it into action. If most people would like confidential mental health counselling available to them, this should be your top priority. Establishing short-, medium-, and long-term goals will help you create a rounded strategy that incorporates all areas of wellbeing while prioritising the most pressing.
Your wellbeing strategy might begin with the introduction of a 24/7 confidential counselling support line, which is immediately available to employees. Then, three months down the line, you could look at rolling out an initiative focused on small healthy changes your employees can make, like taking more breaks away from their desks or offering free fruit as snacks. Longer-term, you could incorporate weekly workload reviews for all employees to help them prioritise and manage their tasks.
Offer a blended approach to wellbeing
By now, you should understand the most pressing issues facing your workforce and prioritise your actions. It’s important to offer employees multiple options when it comes to improving their wellbeing. While some may utilise your newly introduced counselling line, for example, others may prefer to seek support privately.
Introducing private health cover is a great way of allowing your employees to seek support in the way that suits them best. After all, if they’re not comfortable using a work-mandated support line, they may be put off from seeking support at all. Offering a health cash plan or private health insurance means they can seek their own support and claim the money back.
The great thing about these solutions is that they cover many options that you may not have considered, like physiotherapy and dental care. Giving employees the opportunity to address multiple health needs is a great way to make them feel valued.
Promote and measure your wellbeing efforts
A recent survey showed that 35% of employees don’t know or understand their company’s benefits. What’s the point of putting the hard work into a wellbeing strategy if your employees don’t even know it exists?
Hosting sessions on the support available is a great way to introduce both new and existing employees to your wellbeing offerings. These sessions can also double as feedback tools – your strategy should never stay static but should instead evolve around your people’s changing needs.
It’s important to promote this externally too. 80% of jobseekers would choose good benefits and support over a higher salary, so this is essential to your recruitment efforts too. In a crowded market, you’ll be able to stand out to prospective employees with your wellbeing initiatives.
We know that employee wellbeing initiatives offer a range of benefits for both your people and your business. Supported employees are happier and healthier, which leads to better productivity and increased loyalty. This ultimately translates to better productivity, which allows your business to perform better. Carrying out further confidential surveys will allow you to measure the success of your strategy.
Workplace wellbeing is now more important than ever after an especially challenging year. People who are unsatisfied and don’t feel supported at work are more likely to leave and will be less productive. Not only will creating a workplace wellbeing strategy help you to look after your valued employees, but it’ll also translate to improved performance for your business. By following these steps, you can put an effective, flexible strategy in place that’s tailored to your people.