Why is employee wellbeing important?
Workforce wellbeing has become a business priority. You don’t have to be a scientist or an academic to recognise that a happy and healthy workforce will help deliver a better bottom line performance!
Employee wellbeing is clearly exercising the minds of CEOs. A recent article by the World Economic Forum titled “Is there a doctor in the boardroom?” profiles the work that Chief Medical officers from firms such as Anglo American and BP are doing to help combat employee burnout, deal with rising levels of stress and anxiety and to increase productivity.
Is this focus on employee wellbeing new?
No is the quick answer.Think back to the Quaker Cadbury Family in the 19th Century who pioneered the health and fitness of their employees by building a village with at the the time modern housing, parks and swimming pools and medical facilities for their chocolate factory workers.
What is driving employee wellbeing?
In the UK it is estimated that 60% of UK adults are overweight or obese and 1 in every 6 adults experiencing a mental health issue every week. The consequence of this situation is that employees are having to take time off thus increasing the costs on employers and driving down productivity. Therefore,
employers have become frustrated with government public health messages not getting through to the general population and have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Additionally, another consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic has been described as the Great Resignation where employees are reassessing their relationship with work. Employees are seeking roles that offer flexible working, a range of benefits that are family-friendly and an organisation that has a strong purpose .
Organisations need a wellbeing strategy
It isn’t enough to measure employee satisfaction once a year or install a foosball table. Of course a modern and safe workplace environment is extremely important in setting a positive scene but what organisations need to to is drill-down and establish what are the issues that are affecting the health and wellbeing of employees. This could involve the following:
1. Looking at working hours and the concept of flexible or hybrid working;
2. Reviewing job descriptions and job design to ensure employee wellbeing is placed at the heart;
3. Creating a culture where seeking help is normalised and employees are not suffering in silence;
4. Creating a range of benefits including access to physical and mental health experts;
5. Encoring employees to take part in activities outside of the workplace such as community events.
The employee wellbeing dashboard
As a minimum organisations should be measuring absenteeism, holding exit interviews and conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys. Additionally, looking at metrics such as employee turnover, productivity ratios and a net-promoter score will begin to give an organisation insight into how their employees are feeling about themselves and the organsisation.
Employee wellbeing versus employee resilience
A focus on employee wellbeing should however not come at the expense of employee resilience. It is important to note that every role has elements that are either not enjoyable or are inherently stressful. Pitching for new business, managing a large event or presenting at a board meeting are by their nature stressful. Because a job element is stressful does not mean that element should necessarily be removed. Instead, it is vital that employees are coached in a supportive environment to overcome their anxiety or stress and to challenge themselves.
Robert Tansey the former Chairman of Team Sky and co-founder of buddyboost an inclusive workplace tool proven to increase overall employee wellbeing provides a unique insight into how organisations can encourage employees to take small incremental steps to improve their overall health and mental wellbeing.
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