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June 11, 2019
7 Ways to Wellbeing at Work – and How to Achieve Them
Wellbeing is a red-hot topic. From Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent unveiling of a wellbeing budget for New Zealand, to Prince William sparking important conversations about mental health. But what about wellbeing at work?
If you’re an HR professional and had a pound for every time you’ve been asked about employee wellbeing – you’d probably have enough money to build a giant office slide. Which, friction burns aside, could be really fun, but might not provide the long-term return-on-investment your stakeholders are after.
So, when tasked with improving wellbeing at work, where should you focus your attention?
Wellbeing at Work
According to the CIPD there are 7 inter-related areas of employee wellbeing:
Health – including physical health and safety, and mental health
Good work – meaning working environment, line management, work demands, autonomy, change management and pay & rewards
Values – pertaining to leadership, ethical standards and diversity
Social – which means employee voice and positive relationships
Personal growth – including career development, emotional, lifelong learning and creativity
Good lifestyle choices – such as physical activity and healthy eating
Financial – i.e. fair pay and benefit policies, retirement planning and employee financial support
With the above in mind, we’ve put together a list of simple suggestions to help you and your organisation work towards improving wellbeing at work. And if you’d like to learn more, feel free to watch our ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’ webinar with HR Services Director Michelle Hobson; watch it here.
Do you have an Employee Assistance Programme? If you don’t – would you consider one? HR, nor the people managers within your business are likely to be qualified to respond directly to employee mental health issues. However, as an employer, you do have a duty of care to support the health of your employees – and that includes mental health. Providing an EAP service is a great way to help your employees who need confidential advice. Get your seniors on-board and choose a trustworthy provider.
If you already provide EAP, how accessible is the service? Are there posters and contact numbers in bathrooms, by the water cooler, or on the fridge? Do your people managers know about the service and when to encourage usage? Make sure people who need help know exactly where to go to get it – information shouldn’t be buried on the intranet.
2. Working Environment
A recent poll conducted by Aspect found that 83% of UK adults consider their workplace to be ‘unpleasant’. The main culprits? Temperature, lighting, ventilation, smells and the bathrooms…
Physiological needs are the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Whilst basic, they are vital – and shouldn’t be overlooked. The best way to find out what your employees think of their workplace is to ask them. So, set up a quick – anonymous – survey. You’ll soon find out what’s irritating your staff!
What are your company values and what is the company mission? And can your employees recite them too? ‘Doing meaningful work’ is regularly cited as a critical factor that makes employees happy. It’s therefore important for employees to feel part of something – communicating your company vision and values is a great way to help achieve this.
Get your senior leaders to talk about why the business was founded, ask them to tell the story of its history and share exciting plans. They should convey the passion required to start-up and grow a business and constantly keep its wheels turning. And don’t forget to invite your employees to ask questions and get involved, start a conversation and keep it going…
Studies about social connection are plentiful. In short, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of emotional and physical wellbeing. So, improve social connection and you’ll improve overall wellbeing.
This doesn’t mean that everyone at work needs to be best buddies. But it does mean that simply introducing more people across your organisation to form connections, will almost certainly have a positive impact on wellbeing at work. And initiatives to get your employees making these new connections don’t have to cost the earth.
It might be as simple as hosting Friday morning tea breaks in the staff room. Or, encouraging managers get staff members from different teams to collaborate on internal projects or initiatives. If you’ve got a bit of budget for staff social events – gather members from a few different teams to plan an event together. Mentoring is also a good way to form social connections at work, we’ll come on to that one next…
5. Personal Growth
Have you considered a mentoring programme? You could start small, identifying a handful of suitable mentors and potential mentees. Then set them up on a coffee meeting with a simple development-focused questionnaire for them to complete together for the mentee.
Mentoring is a great way for your junior members of staff to develop both personally and professionally. It’s great for your mentors too – people often relish the opportunity to share wisdom and advice. Plus, they’ll learn and grow as a mentor as well. And this personal growth for both parties will do wonders for their wellbeing!
Plus, a mentor programme has the added wellbeing benefit of forging social connections that otherwise, might not have happened.
6. Good lifestyle choices
Walking. It’s free. It doesn’t require anything more than pair of comfortable shoes. And it’s great for wellbeing. Being active improves self-perception, self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. So, take note of your workplace, are people taking their lunch breaks? On nice, sunny days, is everyone eating lunch at their desks, cooped up indoors?
Time to spark a walking revolution! Even if it’s just a 20-minute loop around the local city, town, residential estate – or, if you’re lucky – park. Give it a go, ask managers to encourage their teams to take a break from the workplace and get some fresh air. It’s an easy – and free – way to wellbeing at work.
7. Financial wellbeing
How often do you conduct pay reviews? What does the review process look like? Is it robust, fair, transparent? If you asked your employees if they understand how their pay is worked out – would they be able to answer?
Whilst we don’t only come to work to get paid, pay is a very important driver! So, understanding how our salary is worked out and why we get paid what we do, is important too. Who looks after your remuneration reviews? Could they share the process at a company meeting, or in the company newsletter? Transparency about the pay review process will gain employee trust and positively influence their financial wellbeing.
Note that the CIPD advises these 7 areas should be guided by an overarching wellbeing at work strategy. It might not be as effective to implement a long list of standalone policies, without a bigger picture plan that puts employee wellbeing at the heart of business decision-making.
But if creating a strategy feels like a daunting task, just start somewhere – we suggest picking a few ideas from the list above and see where you have success.