It used to be the case that talk of mental health in the workplace was somewhat frowned upon. More specifically, that an employee’s personal life should not enter into their working environment and mindset. However, in recent years, society has continually fostered a heightened awareness of general health and begun to place more focus on the overall wellbeing of individuals.
Naturally, this public change in attitude has led people to consider the impact that work has on a person’s wellbeing, given that over a third of one’s week is spent working. People today, quite rightly, don’t want to have to sacrifice their welfare in order to either maintain or advance their career. Employee wellbeing has commonly been referred to as a ‘trend’ within HR circles, but rather, it is clear that such a label is now redundant.
In any business, whether small or large, the health and happiness of its employees should be a certainty. If it isn’t, then detrimental effects will follow. Chiefly, it is up to the employer to handle this heavy responsibility. To help you along the way we’ve put together our guide to employee wellbeing which covers everything you should know as an employer.
What is Employee Wellbeing?
Simply defined, the term employee wellbeing refers to the overall condition of each individuals’ mental, physical, emotional, and economic health within a workforce. That is, to what degree each aspect of an employee’s working life is experienced positively.
Of course, since employee wellbeing is multifaceted, there are a number of variables which have an impact upon it. An employee’s level of wellbeing may be influenced by the working relationships they have such as those with managers & peers, decisions made while at work, their shift patterns, pay standards, job security, and the quality of resources available to them.
In addition to these internal factors, employee wellbeing is likewise affected by elements which are outside the context of the workplace. For instance, physical health troubles, familial difficulties, stress, and cost-of-living challenges are all things which constitute the state of an employee’s wellbeing. Evidently, external variables are out of your hands as an employer. Although, it’s still important to be aware of them while you make a continued effort to support your employees in those areas which you can effectively influence.
Why is Employee Wellbeing Important?
It is, understandably, very easy for employers to get bogged down by the facts and figures surrounding their business. It isn’t, however, a sustainable practice to neglect your employees on a personal level. After all, they are at the heart of your organisation and their work ethic determines, to a considerable extent, its success. Pertinently, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide their workforce ways with which they can reinforce the quality of their physical and mental health.
Taking an approach to business which focuses on employee wellbeing is important because it works to create a positive organisational culture. If your business is to thrive then it must be formed on a solid foundation, one that encourages feeling healthy and happy. It’s fairly plain to see that operations won’t be optimal if a given employee is unsatisfied with their situation and feels no sense of purpose with regard to the work that they are carrying out. It’s vital to implement measures which mitigate circumstances like this before they worsen at the expense of both your business, and the employees themselves.
Employee Wellbeing Benefits
In a purely humanitarian sense, promoting employee wellbeing ideals within your organisation is admirable alone because it gives way to a healthier working environment. However, when it comes to your business, employee wellbeing as a constant attribute appears to be more of a necessity than anything for the comprehensive range of benefits that come with it. They are as follows:
An increase in workforce productivity is perhaps the most key benefit to be had from employee wellbeing. This is because it represents the absolute goal that each employer strives to achieve within their organisation. Productivity results, primarily, from motivation. But an employee can only be motivated if they are happy and satisfied with their employment, whether concerning their contractual terms or functional role. If an employee is so, then they will have a high level of engagement and focus because they’ll want to prolong that feeling. This, in turn, allows them to go beyond ordinary routine without sacrificing quality.
To use a cliché, it should also be borne in mind that happiness is contagious. If a worker witnesses a number of employees displaying a positive attitude while exhibiting a stellar work ethic, then they will be inspired to emulate such behaviour. It only takes a few productive employees to act as catalysts before it soon becomes a trait that permeates the workplace. Productivity is a win-win for employers and employees alike because it means that your workers are happy & satisfied, and that your business is excelling as a consequence.
Reduced sick leave & absenteeism
Ensuring that your employees are maximally present and able to carry out their responsibilities is another essential ingredient to a successful business. Making employee wellbeing a mainstay within your organisation contributes significantly to making this the case. On one hand, this is because if your employees are physically and mentally healthy the majority of the time, then they will have little to no cause to take days off for recovery. Work-related stress is a big concern for employers because if their employees become overwhelmed and run-down, then it equates to setbacks. Such instances are, evidently, not ideal and seemingly indicate that there are flaws within the organisation that need addressing.
Further, employees that aren’t happy at work may even tend to be absent regardless of whether they are stressed due to being overworked. It might be that they feel no connection to their work, seeing it only as a means of begrudgingly earning some money. This represents the opposite end of the spectrum for productivity, if employees are not satisfied while operating within your business then they are unlikely to go above and beyond for you. Rather, they will perform something known as ‘quiet quitting’, i.e., doing the bare minimum. As an employer, a portion of your responsibility lies in making sure that your workers are reliable & trustworthy, and not just during those times of urgency.
Attracting top talent is becoming an increasingly competitive effort for businesses. This is, in part, due to workers demanding more from their employers than they had done in the past. As mentioned, a job shouldn’t just be financially beneficial, it should be a positive experience that is a source of personal satisfaction and happiness. This aspect of modern employment has directly risen from the overarching shift to wellbeing. Followingly, if employers are to attract the best talent on offer then they are required to accordingly adapt.
It isn’t hard to discern a workplace where employees are enjoying the work that they are doing while making a proactive effort to be productive day-to-day. And if this is to a business-wide degree, then it won’t take long for a potential new hire to conclude that you, as an employer, are the source of the positivity. By the same token, this will work to establish your reputation as an employer that cares for and looks after the needs of their employees. Such reputability denotes high-quality company values, those that are indispensable for amassing an exceptional workforce.
It is one thing to attract employees, it is another to hold onto them. Saliently, this issue is just as pressing as the former, given the cost of employee turnover. A substantial amount of resources are involved with hiring employees when the whole interviewing and onboarding processes are considered. Time and money have to be invested, and it’s important to ensure that the investment doesn’t fall flat. If it does, then this equates to a loss of business expenditure. It also means that such arduous processes have to begin again from scratch, especially inconvenient if the position has to be filled immediately.
By making it so that an aura of wellbeing runs throughout your business, this manifests as a fundamental reduction in the chances of instances like this occurring. Namely, because if employees are fulfilled and happy with the position they have at their current job, then they will have no reason to look elsewhere. It’s natural that one of the main reasons notices are handed in is down to dissatisfaction, whether this relates to their duties, pay, higher-ups, or peers. Keeping your employees healthy on all fronts is a surefire way of earning their respect and loyalty.
Having covered the main benefits that employee wellbeing brings if it is established within an organisation, it’s effortless to see why business owners everywhere are prioritising its actuality. To reiterate, it evinces itself as a necessity for longevity. Here are some select ways of propagating employee wellbeing.
How to Improve Employee Wellbeing
The obvious next step for employers upon viewing the benefits that solid employee wellbeing can have for a business is to seek and want ways to improve it within their own organisation. Here are the principle initiatives you can implement:
One integral component to making sure that your employees are happy within themselves while they’re at work is demonstrating that you value them. A way to do this is by recognising their efforts in the workplace. If an employee frequently works hard and you praise them for it, then they will likely continue to behave as such. Contrarily, if they work hard and you fail to notice or simply make a cursory remark, then this will dishearten them and cause them to wonder as to why they should invest energy into a business that doesn’t appreciate them. Morale boosts go a long way in business.
Communication can often be understated within the workplace, notwithstanding those conversations which pertain to getting a task done. It’s essential that, as an employer, you understand how your employees actually feel, and thereby what you can do to improve their situation. There are two ways of garnering a response, either by directly asking your employees routinely, or by handing out surveys to get a general consensus. On top of this, encouraging communication and teamwork amongst your employees will help to strengthen the relationships they have with each other, and consequently, with you.
Incorporate employee benefits & perks
Another way of showing your employees that you value them is by offering an extensive range of employee benefits and perks as part of your employment package. Of course, there are some benefits which you are legally required to offer such as holiday pay etc. However, bonus perks like gym memberships show that you care about the physical wellbeing of your employees. Not to mention, if your employees make use of such a perk and are regularly active, then this will improve their quality of life both within and without the workplace. If you do go down this route, then consider which perks are relevant to your industry. For example, a gym membership is perfect for sedentary workers, such as those in offices.
Introduce flexible working
The popularity of flexible working has grown dramatically over recent years. This was, largely, an upshot from the pandemic. Although, as a trend it has increased its upward trajectory. If you offer your employees flexible working hours, as opposed to the relatively draconian 9-5 shifts, then you inherently afford them a favourable work-life balance. One of the reasons employees may feel discontented at work is because they perceive their job to be taking over, that is, eating into their personal time unnecessarily. You can negate this by allowing your employees to enjoy a substantial social life while still leaving room for them to comfortably carry out their responsibilities in time. Subsequently, they will harbour a better mindset towards work and produce a higher standard of output & quality.
Foster personal development
If your employees view work as a means to an end, that end being a monthly paycheck, it’s obvious that they won’t enjoy the time that they are present in the workplace. The best employers of today go beyond the outdated transactional relationship dynamic by showing their employees that their job can be a way to develop personally. Namely, an environment where they can develop personal & interpersonal skills which can be transferred externally to the workplace. At this point, employment becomes a developmental process that reinforces mental fortitude and healthy attitudes. To a large extent, the onus is on the individual, but if you, as an employer, foster such development then your workers will thank you down the line.
Looking over these initiatives, you’ll find that they all signal the valuing and appreciation of employees. If employers want to reap the benefits that come with having healthy and happy employees, then it’s crucial to remind those employees of their worth while proactively making decisions which fundamentally suggest this.
Thank you for taking the time to read our guide to employee wellbeing, we hope that it has shown you, as an employer, the benefits of a happy & satisfied workforce. And likewise, illustrated the various ways in which you can make your business a positive working environment so that it prospers. If you’d like to read more such pieces then head over to our news section. We at advo comprise a group of Specialists who understand your business, its vision, and its people. If you’d like to employ our services then be sure to get in touch today. We look forward to hearing from you!