Today is Time to Talk Day, the nation’s biggest mental health conversation.
Each year on the 3rd of February we devote a day to talking about mental health. The day is about providing support within communities by having conversations with family, friends or colleagues about mental health.
Unfortunately, mental health and wellbeing hasn’t always been considered a top priority within the workplace and it wasn’t until the 18th century that physicians even started talking about employee wellness and mental health. Thankfully we have seen some serious progress in the last century as more companies have taken the right steps to introduce employee wellness programs focusing on different mental health issues that would support employees at work.
Over the last few years there’s been a huge cultural shift as the pandemic raised more concerns about people’s wellbeing and mental health. Employers have the responsibility to protect their staff by implementing public health measures such as social distancing or supporting their employees to work from home. The pandemic has put immense pressure on organisations and has caused major implications for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. A health and wellbeing at work survey from CIPD found that more than 80% of organisations were concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on employee’s mental health.
That’s why it is now more important than ever to have a deep understanding of employee wellbeing with a holistic framework implemented in every business that will support physical health and safety as well as mental health. With many organisations still not embracing the health and wellbeing agenda to full effect, let’s make sure we make it a priority.
What is Employee Wellbeing?
In the dictionary, wellbeing is defined as the
“state of being comfortable, health, or happy.”
Sounds simple right?
Wellbeing is aims to go beyond the basics to have a deeper understanding of what these terms really mean.
When we look at wellbeing, we look at the different factors that can contribute to our overall state of mind. So, this can include our happiness, but it also looks at how we feel on a day-to-day basis. Wellbeing covers how satisfied we feel with our lives and how we function. Looking at wellbeing is a much better way of supporting people because it looks at the bigger picture.
Employee wellbeing is focused on looking at employee health and wellness and looking at how someone’s job can impact their overall health and happiness. This means taking on a more holistic approach, and figuring out the physical, social, psychological and environmental factors that could be influencing workplace wellbeing.
A recent study found that happy employees were 13% more productive but unfortunately it still seems like a lot of companies still haven’t grasped that successful employee wellbeing programs are the key to a successful business.
If you needed any more convincing to invest more time into employee wellbeing programs, here’s a list of 5 reasons that might change your mind from a recent report from Nuffield Health:
1. Organisations are 2.5 times more likely to be in the best performer list
2. Employees will be 8 times more likely to engage
3. Organisations are 3.5 times more likely to be creative
4. The organisation is 4 times less likely to lose talent annually
5. When reviewing 55 Wellness programs, it was found that there was an 82% reduction of sickness and a 33% reduced staff turnover
When starting to think about wellbeing initiatives that could boost employee engagement and help overall business performance, one of the biggest mistakes an organisation might make with their employee wellbeing is doing it on an ad-hoc basis without a proper strategy or plan in place. That’s why we’ve included some tips that should help you get started on a good employee wellbeing program.
What makes a good employee wellbeing program?
Over the years there have been different ways that companies have used to assess employee wellbeing to find out it is helping with employee engagement. One of the most efficient ones comes from PROWELL which has been used to assess employee wellbeing. It categorises employee wellbeing in the workplace into 3 main groups:
These are the biological and physical needs of your employees. This includes physical fitness.
These relate to the feeling of belongingness and love of your employees
These include feelings of security, esteem, cognitive needs, aesthetics, self-actualisation and transcendence.
Each of these 3 groups fall into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs to make it even easier to understand what should be considered when working on employee health and wellbeing. When you're starting to look at employee wellbeing within your organisation, it can be used as a checklist so you're adopting an an effective program that covers all bases.
Check out this graph that shows all the main groups and how they work together!
Each of these different needs have really been put through the worst of it in the last few years! So let’s take a look at the top tips that will help you launch or succeed with a successful company wide program.
4 Ways to enhance your wellbeing program
1. Define company goals
Thinking about what you what to achieve and what business outcomes you'd like to see with your employee wellbeing program is the best way to start. Whatever your reason, making changes to improve employee wellbeing and overall corporate wellness will have great benefits.
Here are some goals that you might be looking at achieving based on the challenges you face as an organisation:
· Increasing staff satisfaction
· Increasing staff morale
· Improving staff retention
· Increasing productivity
· Reducing absenteeism
· Fostering better relationships amongst staff and management
· Increasing communication
2. Get employee feedback
One of the best ways to find out how to take care of your employees is by finding out what their fears, needs, wants, concerns and problems are. Once you have these answers, you’ll be able to form an employee wellbeing program that actually aligns with the needs of your employees.
A simple way to get the answers you need is by conducting an email survey for your employees to fill in. This is a great first step to get some feedback without making employees have to share their feelings publicly, because everyone is different after all!
Here’s some ideas of open or scale questions you could include in your employee wellbeing program survey:
· I feel that I can reach out to my employer when I feel stressed or anxious
· Our company culture supports a balance between family and work life
· I find it difficult to bounce back after facing a problem
· Employee wellbeing is a priority at my company
· Working remotely makes me feel isolated and left out
· Name one way your employer could improve the wellbeing of its employees
3. Share the news of your new employee wellbeing program
There isn’t really much point going to the effort of launching a new wellness program for your employees if no one knows about it. The effectiveness of the new program completely relies on you being able to spread the word across the whole company.
Whether it’s by email, Slack, or whatever your main communication channel is, make sure you are introducing any new employee wellness initiatives to the whole company. The organisation will be able to follow the news and make sure they benefit from your employee wellbeing efforts. Communication at this stage is absolutely vital to avoid leaving anyone out and having employees losing out on the benefits of your new health and wellbeing program.
4. Track the impact
Employee wellbeing programs have shown a huge improvement in employee productivity, but it’s important you keep track of your new wellbeing program so you can measure its effectiveness.
Here are five signs that will indicate if your employee wellness and wellbeing program is getting the results you wanted:
· Increased work output
· Reduced absences
· Reduced employee turnover
· Fewer healthcare expenses
· Overall increased employee morale and satisfaction
As more companies adopt effective employee wellbeing programs in a bid to make their employees feel valued, appreciated and ultimately improve their health and wellbeing, it’s worth taking a look at some large organisations that have been successful with their efforts.
Enhancing your wellbeing program isn't just a great way to improve the success of your business goals, it's about developing a healthier and more inclusive culture that provides support for employees. If you’re looking for more ways to improve employee job satisfaction , support work life balance and increase happiness than you can take a look at our post on How to Create a Culture of Recognition in the Workplace.