Cultivating the wellbeing culture: five steps to better employee wellness
The conversation around wellbeing in the workplace is getting louder. Companies are waking up to the idea that corporate wellbeing strategies need a multi-dimensional approach to support employees
Traditionally, employees were told to value the physical wellness of their employees, but in recent years it has become apparent that there is far more at play when it comes to overall employee health and happiness.
With workplace stress at an all-time high, costing US employers almost $200 billion every year, many businesses are waking up to the benefits of focusing on the overlooked facets of employee wellness. Corporate wellbeing initiatives are extending far beyond discounted gym memberships and a few plants in the office, they now encompass significant employee incentives and even ‘nap pods’ in the workplace.
However, wellbeing does not just mean how fit employees are. There are many different aspects to employee wellbeing which need to be addressed in a holistic wellbeing strategy within organisations. Supporting employees across all aspects of wellbeing will make them feel more connected to the company and potentially provide the feelings of a solid purpose, which should be reflected in better performance and productivity.
The global pandemic has highlighted that now more than ever employee wellbeing is critical to business success. The workplace has shifted from a physical central office to the laptop. Even in this virtual workplace, employees still need to be mindful about how they can support employee wellbeing.
Working environments are fundamental to the performance of employees, yet they are often overlooked despite 94 per cent of executives believing that company culture is vital to their organisation’s success. Workplace culture isn’t just how the company operates and the public face it puts on, but how it treats its employees and how its employees see the business. A consistent and well-defined company culture leads to greater employee retention and a happier workforce. Building that culture, however, is rarely simple and requires a great deal of work, so it’s important that this is something you build slowly into your strategy. A positive, and hardworking office culture isn’t created overnight, after all. Focus your culture on being about the employee first and the job second. Cultivating a competitive culture is not necessarily a bad thing but letting employees know that they don’t have to work themselves to the bone to be able to progress is important. Although workplace culture is difficult to quantify and measure, a poor office culture can be detrimental to a business.
The culture of language
It might seem like a small thing, but it’s often just as important how you speak to your employees as what you say to them. Adopting certain common phrasings and tones might lead employees to feel they are being micromanaged and don’t possess any autonomy. Depending on the existing workplace hierarchy, consider changing the way you refer to each other in the office, so employees become ‘teammates’ and managers become ‘leaders.’ It’s a small change but a more colloquial and positive shared business language can bring people together.
Employers are directly responsible for the financial wellbeing of your employees. This doesn’t just mean they are in charge of employees’ salaries, it means they have responsibility over the financial wellness of their employees. Financial wellness isn’t just about how much you pay your employees, but how you help them to manage their financial situation. With 71 per cent of employees admitting that personal finance is a key source of stress in their lives and 58 per cent of employers finding that this leads to employees having time off work, financial wellbeing should be a key component in any wellness strategy. It’s also relatively simple to incorporate a financial wellness plan into the office to educate employees and reduce stress. With certain stigmas around discussing money and financial situations at work, overcoming this barrier to improve financial wellbeing is paramount.
Mental health and productivity go hand and hand, studies have found that productivity can be raised by up to 12 per cent when mental wellness is increased in the workplace. Organisations are wising up to the idea that they need to invest in resources to make sure the workforce is mentally, as well as physically healthy. Mental health can be addressed by organisations through onsite meditation classes, transparent communication and more flexible working schedules. Stress management is also an important part of helping mental wellbeing; addressing mental wellbeing can feed into creating an overall positive company culture.
Finally, a healthy body often leads to a healthy mind and a healthy mind means happy and productive workers. Small things like encouraging healthy eating at work and suggesting that your teams cycle to work instead of driving or taking public transport is an excellent place to start. Offering incentives like subsidised bike purchase schemes or bus passes is a great way to improve the uptake of these schemes. You could even go as far as installing a gym in the office and allocating gym time as an incentive to improve employee morale and physical health.
Ultimately, the above points are all about giving your team more autonomy and offering a support system that operates on several levels. It all comes down to the culture and if you can foster that culture of supportive positivity within your workforce.