Where to begin with employee wellbeing

Posted: Friday November 27 2020

By: Abbie Coleman

Where to begin with employee wellbeing

By Totally Runnable

Most people don’t object to wellbeing as a concept. Who wouldn’t want their sister, mum or friend to reduce their risk of some nasty diseases, add years to their life expectancy and be happier? And if they could enjoy themselves whilst they were at it, it would be win-win.

The business case for change is equally compelling. Only 1/3 of employees in the UK are actively engaged at work. Stress leading to long-term absence has more than doubled since the 1990s and those working longer hours are at higher risk of ill health. The UK is well below average in terms of productivity when compared to other industrialised nations. Research has linked increased focus on employee health and wellbeing to less sickness absence, lower staff turnover, less accidents and injuries, more employee satisfaction, better productivity and better profitability. 97% of people believe there is a link between wellbeing and performance of an organisation. It seems like a no brainer… yet only 26% of employers see wellbeing as a priority.

The reality is that every business is different, and what works in wellbeing for one may not work for another. There is no one size fits all.

Although the business case for employee wellbeing is compelling, what works practically will be different in each case, and will require a sensible look at what the business does, can do, and what it can measure to see what will work. The business case for wellbeing will only be persuasive if it relates to the company’s wants and needs and, perhaps more importantly those of its people, and the if right outcomes are measured to ensure long-term success.

If your company wants to look at wellbeing and make some positive changes the best place to start is right where you are. Communication at all levels of the business is key – find out what current levels of health, engagement and wellbeing are, and think about what initiatives might benefit your staff. Engaging your people in the process is what ensures lasting results, and that is where a holistic approach is important. A good wellbeing programme will address both physical and mental elements, and can even improve key personal development skills.

Investors in People has developed a ‘Health and Wellbeing’ Award that can be linked to the overall Investors in People accreditation. The Workplace Wellbeing Charter is a national award and statement of intent, showing an organisation’s commitment to the health of employees. The message of both is the same and is echoed by the County Sports Partnerships’ Workplace Challenge, encouraging individuals and organisations to put added focus on wellbeing at work.

Wellbeing is expected to rise further up the business agenda in the next decade, with changed expectations of millennials adding to pressures to increase productivity in the face of changes such as the National Living Wage. If it’s not on your agenda now, it soon will be.

Start where you are, work with what you have, and see for yourself the difference employee wellbeing can make to your organisation.