Mandy Jeffery, VP, People International, Workday
Wellbeing and employee mental health is increasingly becoming a board level priority. And not before time. The latest Mental Health at Work 2018 Report from The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, found that 61 percent of employees have experienced mental health issues due to work or where work was a related factor. Worryingly, the same report found that 64 percent of managers have had to put the interests of their organisation above staff wellbeing at some point. Clearly something needs to change.
To make meaningful change, awareness must run throughout the organisation, and all levels of management must be trained to support wellbeing initiatives. Businesses cannot rely on tokenistic, one-off initiatives to make a difference. Organisations must re-evaluate how their culture is built to drive an ongoing commitment to employee wellness.
Four pillars of wellness
Building out health and wellbeing programmes can seem like a daunting task, but it need not be. Workday, for example, has a sustainable model to do this. We aim to address four core pillars in equal measure: happiness, health, movement, and nutrition. This rises above traditional medical benefits and wellness offerings, and means tailoring wellbeing goals to individual employees. Businesses cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to healthcare. After all, the needs of an employee approaching retirement are going to be very different to those going through pregnancy, or graduates who are just entering the workforce.
For organisations with thousands of employees, this may seem unrealistic, however for wellbeing initiatives to be most effective, they must be tailored on a team by team basis. For example, at Workday, we run Team Wellbeing Experiences, where we personalise and plan a custom event that works best for a specific team, such as taking a cooking class, spin class, or meditating together.
When implementing benefits that aim to improve employee wellbeing, it is important that no demographic of the workforce feels excluded. Further to this, as different people have different working habits, benefits must fit around specific workflows and schedules. While some will attend a spin class to feel energised in the morning, others will prefer to meditate in the evening, to help unwind after a busy day. Work/life balance has a huge impact on mental and physical health, so ensuring these initiatives have a positive impact on every aspect of wellbeing is vital.
A holistic approach to wellbeing
Creating an innovative and inspiring working environment goes well beyond one-off events or initiatives. Health and wellbeing must be baked into the company’s culture to have a meaningful impact on all employees. Ongoing programs such as providing healthy food options in the office, and giving time and space for reflection and tranquillity when needed, are just two examples of how this can be achieved.
Furthermore, a continuous feedback loop must underpin these programmes to understand how wellbeing initiatives are being embraced, and if they are having the desired impact. By employing ongoing workforce surveys, managers can remain aware of what is working, what isn’t, and how they can best support their colleagues across the business. It is important to remember: employees that are being listened to are far happier, more motivated, and ultimately more productive.
With mental and physical health an ongoing challenge for society as a whole, it has never been more important for business to review how it and its peers are approaching the topic of wellbeing. Business leaders must ask themselves whether their wellness programmes are built to support their people. By evolving the wellbeing programme and making small, incremental changes to the company culture, businesses can ensure these initiatives are making a continued meaningful impact.