Why companies should focus on employee wellbeing
Feelings of wellbeing are crucial to the overall health and happiness of individuals. A positive sense of wellbeing can enable people to successfully overcome life hurdles and achieve what they want out of life. Wellbeing is much more than just physical health, it is multidimensional and can have either a positive or negative effect on a number of areas of people’s lives. According to the American Medical Student Association, there are seven dimensions of wellness, which include physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, environmental and occupational. There are inevitable pressures of modern-day life that can cause people to become overwhelmed, unhappy and stressed – from workplace stress and demands to the daily pressures of family life and juggling friends and relationships. Those that are able to balance these different dimensions of wellness are more likely to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Occupational wellness recognises the importance of personal satisfaction and enrichment in life through the world of work and encourages individuals to seek a career or job that will provide them with fulfilment, while maintaining balance in other areas of their life. It’s widely known that employee wellbeing can either hinder or improve workplace performance. A UK government report on employee wellbeing and workplace performance found that employers who are able to improve employee wellbeing may see advances in three key areas: profitability, labour productivity and quality of outputs or services. In contrast, research carried out by Deloitte has revealed that mental ill health costs the UK £70 billion pounds each year and sees only two in five employees operating at peak performance.
Although companies are increasingly taking the concept of employee wellbeing more seriously, they need to ensure that they have put the appropriate structures and initiatives in place to encourage and support workplace wellness. While some view efforts to foster wellbeing at work as just a perk or gimmick, these measures should instead be thought of as a necessary moral and business investment. Apart from demonstrating that an employer feels a duty to look after its staff and simply do the right thing, organisations that focus on employee wellbeing programmes are likely to reap the long-term financial benefits. Employees who feel they enjoy higher wellbeing are less likely to leave, enjoy their work more and feel more loyalty towards their teams.
In order to benefit from the boosts to workforce performance, engagement, resilience and productivity offered by employee wellbeing programmes, companies should look to their management to set an example. Managers need to adopt five specific patterns of behaviour to help wellbeing flourish in their organisations. They should:
- Embed employee wellbeing into their daily working practice and consider it a part of their decision-making process.
- Provide access to mental and physical wellbeing perks, and encourage and celebrate their take-up.
- Create a culture of continuous and instant feedback from the bottom of the organisation up, as well as in the more traditional top-down direction.
- Get into the habit of offering recognition on a regular basis, for the small tasks that are done well as much as the larger, more significant achievements.
- Motivate employees to be decisive. As procrastination is a big cause of stress, helping individuals to be bold and take the initiative can alleviate feelings of tension or anxiety.
Businesses have only recently begun to understand the importance of employee wellbeing and why they should concentrate on improving their organisational performance in this area. Every employee has the potential to be happy, productive, motivated and resilient at work – they just need the right support structures in place.
By Denise Willett, General Manager at Achievers EMEA