Talent retention is one of the biggest challenges currently facing businesses. As such, many leaders are looking for a guide to workplace wellbeing in order to create a workplace that supports employee health and happiness.
What’s more, outside of talent retention, work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 44% of work-related ill health and 54% of working days lost (HSE, 2019). A pre-pandemic independent study showed poor mental health costs UK employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year (Thriving at Work report, 2017). During the pandemic, a CIPD survey confirmed 37% of respondents reported an increase in stress-related absences in the workplace .
This demonstrates that organisations who are willing to invest time and resources into workplace wellbeing will reap tangible and sustained rewards and competitive advantages. These rewards are not limited to less sick leave. A happy work force is loyal, and a loyal workforce is committed. It is needless to say how valuable that is.
So, what exactly constitutes workplace wellbeing, and how do I, as an employer, provide it?
An employer looking to improve workplace wellbeing should begin by implementing the following practices and policies:
1. Keep a door open
Create an ‘open door policy’ to encourage employees to voice their worries, issues, and general state of mind to a specific party. This listener could be a human resources representative, or better yet, a wellbeing manager. It is important to instil a formal agreement of confidentiality with this person. Promote the policy to every staff member, with the objective of creating a safe environment that allows for vulnerability and expression.
2. Check in or they’ll check out
Managers should be encouraged to check-in on their team, on an individual basis, and should be given leeway on accommodating for exceptional circumstances when need be. A worker that doesn’t feel heard, or feels a lack of compassion for their personal struggles could decrease in productivity or leave.
3. Business is business, but people are people
Review existing company guidelines, and make sure they reflect compassion and promote wellbeing. Business is business, but people are people, and should be treated as such. Any harassment or bullying should be treated like an infringement on company policy and be made an example out of.
What’s more, the pandemic ushered in the new-norm of hybrid and flexible working. Love it or hate it, it could be the difference between acquiring and retaining the best talent, or losing it to the competition.
4. Survey well and survey often
Surveying allows employers to keep a finger on the pulse of their teams. Employees should be given ways to anonymously report issues or difficulties they might be facing, as well as provide input on how to better the workplace experience. This proactive approach to employee wellbeing will serve as a preventative measure and reduce the risk of unexpected and disruptive stress-related issues in the workplace.
5. The kids want benefits
Besides compensation, recent surveys conducted by Deloitte revealed that Gen Z workers are driven by benefits and workplace culture. Simple things such as free snacks, pub funds and free coffee could be worth their weight in gold.
The effective implementation of workplace wellbeing measures will better staff retention, increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, promote loyalty, and generally improve the work experience. Remember, these guidelines are embodying and enabling moral principles. They need to flow through every aspect of your business, like oxygen through blood. The days of the big-bad-boss are coming to their end. An employer must care about the wellbeing of their team or risk losing it all.