In a recent WorkBuzz research paper, ‘employee wellbeing’ was cited as a key priority for HR professionals and business leaders, with the research revealing that nine in 10 HR professionals considered ‘supporting wellbeing’ as being more important to existing and prospective employees compared to 12 months ago.
And it’s easy to understand why. Health and wellbeing became a focus at the start of the pandemic through necessity, with employees battling new challenges around health concerns, the pressures of home-schooling, and adjusting to remote working, whilst employers who look after their staff well focused on how they could minimise any causes of stress. As we then slowly returned to work after restrictions lifted, employers were hit with ‘the Great Resignation’, shifting the need for wellbeing support from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’.
It’s also worth noting the pre-pandemic analysis from Deloitte which estimated that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year, and suggests that ‘for every £1 spent on supporting their people’s mental health, employers get £5 back on their investment in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.’ So, there’s also a financial benefit to organisations actively investing in improving employee wellbeing.
How can you improve employee wellbeing?
The pillars of ‘employee wellbeing’ focuses on the different elements which contribute to ‘health’ of an employee, which whilst linked, should be managed independently. Here are a few suggestions for initiatives you could implement for the physical, mental, financial, social and career pillars:
- Movement/fitness challenge – challenge your employees to cover 10,00km (adjust the distance to suit the size of your team!) between them over a specified time period with the promise of a charity donation or team lunch should they hit the target
- ‘Meditation’ sessions – believed to reduce stress and boost productivity, you could organise a weekly ‘meditation’ session for your team, using either paid or free resources
- Corporate gym membership – many national and local gyms offer corporate memberships, which allow organisations to provide heavily discounted or free gym memberships to their employees
- Be mindful of the snacks you bring in – it’s all too easy to pick up a box of donuts or bag of cookies each time you know your team are coming in for a meeting. Try to swap the sugary treats for something healthier like fruit and nuts or vegetable sticks and hummus and keep the sugary stuff to an occasional treat.
- Walking meetings – when possible, try to encourage employees to swap office, boardroom and zoom meetings and try a walking one instead
- Private healthcare– the big one! It’s expensive, but private healthcare is seen to be an incredibly valuable long-term employee benefit. Employees benefit from access to a higher standard of healthcare, with shorter waiting times and more flexibility whilst employers benefit from less business disruption, improved employee wellbeing, and a possible differentiator when it comes to retaining and attracting new talent.
- Train your leaders – starting a conversation about mental health can be daunting for leaders – the fear of not knowing what to say or saying the wrong thing can lead to nothing being said at all. By offering appropriate training to all leaders, they will then know how to identify if someone appears to be struggling with their mental health, and how best to support them.
- Appoint a ‘Mental Health First Aider (MHFA)’ – taking it one step further, you could look to appoint a MHFA, who can advocate for mental health in the workplace and act as support function for all employees
- Offer access to a mental health app – offering access to a dedicated mental health app subscription like ‘Headspace’ (other apps are available!) means employees can access mental health support 24/7 via their phone
- Sign posting to free resources – there are plenty of free mental health resources available online, create a resources sheet with some of them listed and share it with all employees
- Access to regulated advice – financial education isn’t prioritised at school and talking about money is an oddly taboo subject in the UK, so making key financial decisions, whether that be day-to-day management of finances through to planning for the future and pensions, can be quite a stressful experience for people. An unbiased, regulated financial advisor could be of real support to your employees, and help them to make better financial decisions.
- Employee discount schemes – platforms like Reward Gateway offer employees’ access to discounts and cashback opportunities at leading retailers. This helps make their salaries go a little further by saving them money on every day (and essential ASOS) purchases.
- Sign posting to free resources – there are plenty of free, impartial financial resources available online Create a resources sheet with some of them listed and share it with all employees.
- Regular pay reviews – to remain competitive, you should be reviewing employee salaries and aiming to increase based on inflation and market rates. It’s also important to review salaries because a member of staff could be due a promotion or increase.
- Weekly team social call – organise an optional weekly team social call (best to do on a Friday!) where a team or department can get together and spend 30 minutes discussing non-work topics – WorkBuzz’s call is typically dominated by food chat!
- Organise team socials (virtual or in-person) – encouraging social events outside of work allows colleagues to bond and form stronger emotional connections, which can contribute to better collaboration, and increased employee engagement and loyalty. Team events can be activity based (but make sure they’re inclusive!) or just a simple meal out somewhere nice. Virtual team events are also an option although they don’t quite have the same impact.
- Encourage peer-to-peer recognition – have a dedicated channel or platform where colleagues can recognise each other’s contributions and achievements
- Involve employees in your CSR initiatives – giving back makes people feel better, so giving your employees an opportunity to contribute to your CSR initiatives is a win-win. They’ll be invested in the causes you’re supporting as they’re important to them, and they’ll also be pleased to be working with an organisation who shares their values.
5. Career development
- Communicate learning and development budgets – most organisations have an allocated learning and development budget for each employee but fail to promote it adequately or encourage teams to use it. Make sure leaders and employees know what budgets are available. There are also a number of free and subsidised courses available, so it’s worth researching what’s available and suggesting any relevant ones for your teams.
- Mentoring schemes – mentoring schemes allow mentees to benefit from the knowledge, experience, and skills of a more senior or high performing mentor, which can support with fast tracking learning and development. Depending on your organisation size, you might look to external sources for mentors.
- Encourage regular 1:1s – 1:1s are weekly or fortnightly meetings between an employee and their line manager. The aim is to encourage regular communication and alignment on performance, allow for open feedback to be shared, and provide an opportunity for staff to highlight any concerns in a safe space.
Next steps – which employee wellbeing areas should you focus on?
Identify what’s important to YOUR workforce. Unless you have an infinite amount of time and budget, chances are you won’t be able to tackle all the initiatives in one go, so you need to know what to prioritise, and most importantly what’s going to have the most positive impact on your team.
How do you identify which employee wellbeing factors are most important?
Initially, a well-constructed employee wellbeing survey would provide the information you need to understand the priorities of your team. You could ask team leaders to speak to employees directly, but this would be time consuming (for you and for them!), you might also struggle to analyse responses and track trends. The lack of anonymity might also mean employees aren’t comfortable sharing any concerns they have.
WorkBuzz’s employee engagement platform supports regular listening projects on key employee experience topics, with ‘employee wellbeing’ having its own dedicated question library. Our flexible, easy to use tool, combined with our People Science team can work with you to create a custom survey which gains critical insight into where your employees want to see improvements.
Follow up surveys can then be deployed to gauge how well new initiatives have been received, and what impact this has had on your overall employee experience.