November 16, 2022
General
7 minutes
Mae Angeline

7 Practical Tips to Support Employee Wellbeing

How do you support employee wellbeing in a practical, effective way? There are many factors at play - but it's vital to action the right initiatives and bring meaningful benefits to your team.

Employee wellbeing may feel like a buzzword in the world of business, but the concept has been around for a long time. Historians have found evidence of workplace wellness initiatives dating back to 1897, and the first corporate wellness program was launched in the 1970s.

However, these programs had a major focus on physical wellness aspects, such as weight and nutrition. After years of research, it turns out wellbeing demands a more holistic approach, that encompasses the multifaceted nature of human physical, mental, and emotional health.

A fruit bowl in the break room and a gym subscription might form part of the support you offer, but on their own they're unlikely to make a significant difference.

So how do you support employee wellbeing in a practical, effective way? Fortunately, you don't need a degree in medicine or psychology to make a start. This article will take you through the importance of employee wellbeing, how to gauge employee wellbeing in your company, and 7 tips you can implement to improve it.

Why is supporting employee wellbeing important?

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), workplace wellbeing involves all aspects of working life, from the physical workplace environment to the nature of work and the organization.

Employees in a state of wellbeing give their best input at work and handle their personal lives in a better way. Supporting employee wellbeing has various benefits, including:

  • Enhanced employee engagement: If you value and listen to your employees, they'll be committed to organizational goals, improve morale, and perform their best, resulting in increased productivity.
  • Increased resilience among employees: Resilient staff are better at handling workplace stress and home problems without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Reduced healthcare expenses, absenteeism, and presenteeism: When you address and support employees' issues, they're unlikely to experience physical and mental health challenges. This will lower health costs and reduce absenteeism. Likewise, employees who fall ill will feel confident taking time off to recover fully, rather than feeling pressured to force themselves into work despite being unwell and unable to perform at their best (presenteeism).
  • Increased staff retention: A positive wellbeing culture enhances staff loyalty, causing employees to stay longer, and reducing recruitment costs.
  • Better employer brand and reputation: Incorporating employee wellbeing into your company culture creates a good impression and attracts high-quality talent.

How do you gauge employee wellbeing?

Employee wellbeing measures an employee's physical, mental and emotional performance. Evaluating your employees' wellbeing helps you improve and identify areas of strength, and areas that need to improve. Although there are many ways of gauging your employee wellbeing, the most common are:

Employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction indicates how happy workers are in working for your company and in their specific roles. You can use satisfaction surveys or combine them with an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) to help you determine how your workplace culture measures up.

Employees anonymously share their experiences, feelings, ratings, and opinions about their work and the company. This employee feedback enables you to identify potential problems, such as stress and anxiety, so you can respond to them through employee programs. Such surveys can also help you gauge workers' commitment, so you know how many are happy and likely to remain loyal.

Productivity

Measuring productivity can give you insights into your employees' wellbeing. High productivity is associated with the overall wellbeing of the teams involved.

You can measure productivity in terms of output per hour. Time-tracking software helps you collect accurate productivity data by tracking how much time each employee spends per task and their output.

Absenteeism and turnover

Workplace dissatisfaction raises employee stress levels, causes mental health issues, and leads to multiple sick days. When workers are happy and healthy at work, absenteeism and turnover are lower.

Using a manual or an automated system, absenteeism can be measured by tracking the number of days people are absent from work. You track turnover by monitoring your hiring and firing records. Conducting exit surveys helps you gain insights into why your workers are leaving.

Employee engagement

Ask your managers and human resources personnel to give feedback about employees' behaviors and attitudes. You could also organize focus groups, encouraging employees to express their candid opinions safely and confidentially.

What negatively impacts employee wellbeing?

As a full-time employee spends a third of their waking hours at work, it's no surprise that the workplace has a significant effect on employee wellbeing. Factors that have the biggest impact include:

Work environment

Work environments that don't accommodate employees' needs can negatively affect employee wellbeing. Employees may get stressed as they try to fit into a company's rigid settings, resulting in mental health issues and other health problems.

Sometimes the work environment can be toxic to employees' wellbeing. For instance, a lack of resources or poor management leads to employee stress, resulting in poor mental health or emotional wellbeing.

Work control

Being micromanaged, or having little control over when and how they do their work, can make the employee feel incompetent. It may lead to emotional distress, depression, low motivation, decreased engagement, poor performance, absenteeism, and presenteeism.

Workload

Heavy workloads force employees into long hours of work, and put them at risk of burnout. Lack of full holiday entitlements, irregular changes in working hours, and compressed weeks all have undesirable effects. Employee burnout causes mental and physical health problems such as heart disease, fatigue, low concentration, decreased productivity, and increased absenteeism.

On the other hand, feeling under-utilized can also negatively affect employee wellbeing. It results in low self-esteem, unhealthy habits, and a lack of purpose. Balancing your team's workload can help you reach a healthier solution with your employees.

Lack of work-life balance

Balancing workplace activities and personal life can be challenging for workers. Employee wellbeing initiatives can be adapted to cater to workers' needs. For example, technology improvement has facilitated flexibility of work to have office and remote working. Such arrangements can create time for family, hobbies, friends, and healthy habits, which work together to boost morale.

Social support

A work environment that doesn't encourage supportive relationships is detrimental to employee wellbeing. Poor relationships among colleagues, subordinates, and superiors lead to poor communication and mistrust, and take their toll on emotional wellbeing. On the other hand, a strong support system makes employees feel supported and improves their mental health.

Job insecurity

The pandemic has brought about many job losses, so workers are more concerned about long-term job security and employability than ever. Such factors contribute to anxiety, which negatively affects employee wellbeing.

Workplace injustices

Workplace injustices can cause depression, emotional exhaustion, and psychological stress. Examples of workplace injustices are the unfair distribution of work, job opportunities, pay, and promotions. These factors elevate employees' stress levels, and negatively affect their wellbeing. They are also a leading cause of employee turnover.

What is an employee wellbeing strategy?

An employee wellbeing strategy is a holistic approach incorporating wellbeing into an organization's culture. Although unique to each company, its people, and its needs, an employee wellbeing strategy focuses on reducing stress, absenteeism, and presenteeism while adding value to employees' work life.

When developing an employee wellbeing strategy, you can include the following types of wellbeing:

Physical wellbeing

Physical wellness involves various aspects, such as sleep, diet, and fatigue. Offering perks such as physiotherapy sessions and yoga breaks can incentivize employees to take their physical health seriously.

Emotional wellbeing

Emotional wellbeing is a vital aspect of employees' mental health. Workplace stress and inadequate sleep can affect employees' emotional wellbeing. Despite the benefits of remote working, it may also cause emotional distress as employees lose their work-life balance. Create wellness initiatives to promote mental health awareness among your employees, and help them engage in your company's employee assistance program.

Financial wellbeing

Finance is the leading cause of employee stress among Americans. Help alleviate their financial stress by creating emergency savings accounts, initiating financial programs, and engaging advisors to help employees manage their personal finances effectively. This can give you a financially and emotionally secure workforce.

Social wellbeing

Social interaction positively impacts mental health. Remote working and social distancing can make employees feel lonely and isolated, leading to poor-quality work and increased presenteeism. Organizing virtual team bonding meetings, outdoor picnics, and volunteer programs can help to restore positive relationships that re-energize your staff.

Career wellbeing

Organizations may experience talent migration as workers re-align their career objectives. You can retain your top talents through improved and fairly-distributed opportunities, increased compensation, remote work options, and wellness initiatives. This can help employees maintain their work-life balance in the new normal of work.

Purpose-driven wellbeing

Employees prefer working in companies whose objectives match their own. Purpose-driven organizations will value their talent and invest in employee personal development programs. These may include upskilling, re-skilling, and mentoring programs.

7 practical things you can do to improve employee wellbeing

Infusing your workplace culture with strategies that support employees' wellbeing is a lengthy process, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. It is essential to design employee wellbeing programs that provide options to suit your workers' interests and needs.

Here are 7 steps to boost employee wellbeing in your company.

1. Make sure your organization is mission-driven

People feel more motivated when their work feels purposeful. Help your employees understand your organizational goals, how their work contributes to achieving them, and your organization's role to the people it serves.

2. Cut down on overtime and over-scheduling

Working long hours, or being under pressure to work fast, negatively affects employee health and wellbeing. It can easily lead to stress and related health conditions. To manage workplace stress, it is essential to treat each employee well, being prepared to find additional resources as necessary to reduce work overload.

Use the best resource planning and project management tools, such as Runn, to help schedule work appropriately. Maintaining reasonable workloads and predictable schedules can make work more enjoyable and boost employee happiness.

3. Get your managers trained on occupational mental health

Mental health problems can affect any of us, and it's important that management is trained on their causes, signs, and the preventative measures to be taken. Invest in training for your managers on employee mental health, so they understand how to support their teams. Trained managers can help workers find a good work-life balance, which improves job performance and leads to higher employee morale - and (crucially) lower turnover.

4. Offer benefits that help employees care for their physical health

Physical health is a key element to employees' overall wellbeing. Encourage employees to prioritize their physical health, and offer wellness program benefits to help them achieve their goals. Such benefits include gym memberships, comprehensive health insurance plans, group exercise classes, and activity-related trips. These factors contribute to improved physical health and reduce sick days.

5. Establish a strategy for helping with financial hardship

One of the primary causes of stress is financial issues and poor economic health. Create plans, such as hardship funds, to assist employees in managing their financial obligations. Although these funds offer a short-term solution to financial stress, training in financial management can be beneficial to your team's financial wellbeing in the long-term.

6. Offer flexibility

Flexible hours or remote work options offer better work-life balance. Remote work is increasing in popularity and is becoming one of the easiest mental health benefits you can offer your staff.

The flexibility to work from home saves employees' travel costs, reduces commuting time, gives them more time with their families, and makes them feel more trusted by their employers. Being saved from traffic jams, rush-hour madness, and other travel stressors also helps to improve employee health.

7. Create a supportive, nonjudgmental culture

Employees feel valued and motivated to work in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment. Social wellness is one of the critical aspects of employee wellbeing that is largely influenced by workplace culture. Encouraging managers, co-workers, and team leaders to recognize employees' efforts can impact motivation, satisfaction, and job performance, and improve wellbeing overall.

It is also essential to create a culture where it's not taboo to talk about mental health, take time off to fully recover from illness, ask for help, or push back on intense deadlines. Managers who can talk openly about their own health, and remove stigma around accessing mental health services, help promote wellbeing among their employees.

Final thoughts on employee wellbeing

Employers are increasingly aware that employee wellbeing directly impacts their organizations, and that the provision of adequate support can improve employee health and productivity. Since employee wellbeing includes more than physical, mental, and financial health, employee wellness programs can be helpful.

A successful employee wellbeing program requires proper planning, employee participation, and organizational commitment. Supporting employee wellbeing can help guard against absenteeism, poor employee engagement, and low productivity – so that your team is able to operate at the height of their potential.

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