Guest blog by James Hewitt, Head of Client Services (Europe), LifeWorks
More than ever, employee wellbeing is becoming increasingly front of mind for businesses. Recent research shows the UK workforce is reporting higher levels of work-related stress, anxiety and depression – a 2015 report by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that 9.9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress in 2014/15, the equivalent of approximately 23 days lost per person. This is estimated to have cost the UK economy £6.5 billion and is clearly a problem which businesses need to resolve, quickly and effectively.
Businesses often shy away from change, but improving employee wellbeing will deliver a significant return on investment – both intrinsically, in terms of being able to attract higher quality talent, and extrinsically, with happier employees increasing productivity and, ultimately, boosting the bottom line.
Here, we look at our top tips for better employee wellbeing in 2017, for a happier and healthier workforce.
Value work-life balance
The way we work nowadays means that employees increasingly struggle to switch off. Whether it’s having to do a client a favour at the weekend, making a quick call early in the morning or checking emails over dinner, there is no longer a clear divide between home and work life. Unfortunately, the availability of more advanced technology has added to the “always-on” culture, eradicating the concept of the 9-5 role. Thanks to mobile devices and high-speed 4G connections, employees are now able to connect anywhere, at any time, making it difficult to switch off.
Management should discourage these habits wherever possible, as they can lead to exhaustion and loss of motivation. Whilst occasional out-of-hours work is inevitable, business leaders should ensure that it is kept to a minimum, protecting their employees’ mental wellbeing and positive work-life balance as much as possible.
Advances in technology aren’t all bad, however. Whilst being able to connect anytime from anywhere can add pressure to be online at clients’ or bosses’ beck and call, it can also help relieve that stress, enabling employees to work remotely from venues that are easier to get to, or are simply easier to get their head down and concentrate in. It also means the possibility of a flexible working policy – a huge benefit for parents and carers, in particular.
Offering this flexibility is valuable, not only because it can achieve a healthy work-life balance, but it signals a level of trust and confidence between the employee and employer – something critical for workplace satisfaction.
Build a community
Given the average worker spends three times longer at the office than they do with their family, as revealed in a study by think tank, Centre for the Modern Family, it’s important for workplaces to be more than just that.
The best workplaces are those that show they care for their employees by creating a culture that is enjoyable to work in. Taking your team out for lunch or after-work drinks can do wonders to boost team spirit, encouraging employees to talk about non-work-related issues, building a bond and helping colleagues become true friends.
This then helps build a community, as people will be more open with each other, more prone to sharing problems when they feel troubled, and therefore less likely to suffer in silence. All these routes lead to happiness, improving employee morale and productivity.
Recognise employees’ achievements
It’s said that a thank you goes a long way, and in our day and age it’s never been so true. In a busy workplace it’s so easy to forget to thank your team for the hard work they’ve done that day. However, a workplace culture that encourages people to take time to praise and celebrate great work purpose will inspire success, productivity and loyalty in that team.
With employee wellbeing increasingly in focus, it’s important for businesses to look ahead to the new year when employees and bosses alike are likely to start off with a positive attitude and a desire to succeed. Ultimately, workplace culture and wellbeing is one of the most important factors for attracting and retaining the best talent, and these quick tips will help businesses shift from being a place of “work” to a place employees actively want to be.