High-performing and responsible organisations make employee wellbeing a priority.
They understand looking after their people isn’t just their ethical responsibility – it’s also good for business (more on exactly how later).
Despite this, fewer HR professionals agree that employee wellbeing is on senior leaders’ agendas and that line managers have bought into the importance of wellbeing than last year.
In this short guide, we’ll show you exactly what wellbeing at work is and why it should be near the top of your organisation’s list of priorities in 2022.
What is employee wellbeing?
Employee wellbeing is a measure of your employees’ mental, physical, emotional, and economic health.
There are two pieces to the puzzle: everyday wellbeing and workplace wellbeing.
Your employees’ everyday wellbeing is affected by their lives outside of the office. Their diet, the amount of sleep they get, and how stressful their day-to-day life is all has a huge impact here. And generally speaking, the healthier, more well rested, and more at ease someone is, the more likely they are to perform and engage with their work.
Of course, as an employer, there’s only so much you can do to influence your teammates’ everyday wellbeing. One way you can help is by providing your employees with access to the support they need to maintain their mental and physical health so it’s there if they ever need it. Simple things like mental health check-ins and a flexible working policy can go a long way here.
Workplace wellbeing, on the other hand, is something you have direct control over. The way you approach mental health support, learning and development, and career growth as an organisation has a huge say in your employees’ wellbeing in and outside the office.
Plus, the more stressful your workplace or draining your people find their work, the more likely they are to fall into unhealthy lifestyle patterns. And the more unhealthy their habits at home, the poorer their workplace wellbeing is going to be.
Which means you have a duty of care to look after your people as best you can – both from a moral point of view and a performance perspective.
What makes up workplace wellbeing
Workplace wellbeing isn’t free fruit, a ping pong table in the breakout room, or beers on a Friday. While these are all thoughtful touches your teammates are sure to appreciate if you’ve got the groundwork in place, they’re not going to make much of a difference unless you have an effective workplace wellbeing strategy in place.
Here are the eight foundations of employee wellbeing you need to focus on before you start thinking about the nice-to-haves:
1. Financial wellbeing
If a teammate could be getting paid more elsewhere for doing the same kind of work then their wellbeing is either going to take a big hit or they’re not going to be your teammate for much longer. When you pay your people a fair salary, you also show them they’re valued – an essential ingredient for workplace wellbeing.
This is why paying your team fairly – and looking after them through other financial benefits such as a robust company pension, share options, and access to financial advisors – is the first step to strong employee wellbeing.
2. Physical health and safety
It’s going to take a serious toll on your employees’ wellbeing if you don’t take their physical health and safety seriously. If your organisation has a laissez faire attitude to health and safety regulations you’re sending a clear signal to your employees that you don’t care about them – not to mention likely to be breaking the law.
3. Mental health
Taking your employees’ mental health seriously is foundational to your organisation’s long-term success. A high-stress company culture that promotes long hours and fierce competition for promotions is a surefire recipe for burned out and unengaged employees eyeing the door.
Offering every employee mental health support in the form of things like counselling, conflict resolution training, and occupational health services is fundamental for workplace wellbeing. A company culture that leaves your team members feeling comfortable opening up about their mental health rather than feeling like they need to bottle their problems up to get ahead is one that’s bound to reap the rewards of a healthy workplace.
4. Reasonable expectations
If your teammates are struggling with unreasonable workloads it’s going to put a big dent in your workplace wellbeing. And since the rise of remote working in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, presenteeism (people working when they’re not well) and leaveism (people working outside their contracted hours or when they’re on annual leave) have reached an all-time high. In fact, 81% of organisations have noticed presenteeism among employees who work at home in the last year and 67% have noticed some sort of leaveism.
Given those numbers, chances are that you’ve got employees who feel the need to be working when they shouldn’t be. Fail to regularly check in with your people about whether they can cope with their workload and this can quickly spiral into a serious workplace wellbeing problem.
5. Support for people managers
Your people managers are responsible for implementing your wellbeing strategy on the ground floor and looking out for potential wellbeing issues within their teams. There’s a lot on their shoulders – and the most effective organisations recognise that and put measures in place to look after their wellbeing.
Provide your people managers with frequent check-ins, ongoing guidance and training on how best to support their teams, and access to expert help when it’s needed and your organisation will be a lot better off for it.
6. Strong social ties
We’re social animals, which makes it very difficult to have workplace wellbeing if we don’t get along with the people we work with. Go out of your way to build strong social ties across your organisation and ensure every employee has healthy relationships with their peers and managers and you’ll go a long way to increasing workplace wellbeing across the board.
7. Engaging work
Engaging work is an essential ingredient for employee wellbeing. Your peoples’ lives in and out of the workplace will be seriously affected if they don’t care about the work they’re doing and find every workday a slog. But it’s going to have a huge impact on their wellbeing in and out of the workplace if they spend their days doing work they’re good at, enjoy, and feel makes use of their unique talents.
One thing to keep in mind here is that even if someone finds the work they do a bit boring sometimes, it can still be engaging if they’re invested in your organisation’s values and purpose. Work that would feel tedious can be purposeful if you know it’s contributing to a cause that’s close to your heart.
8. Learning and development opportunities
Your employees’ workplace wellbeing is going to vanish as soon as they feel like there are no more roles or responsibilities for them to grow into within your organisation. Provide them with ample learning and development opportunities that support their career goals, on the other hand, and their wellbeing will see a big boost.
Why wellbeing at work is important
Your peoples’ workplace wellbeing has a huge impact on their happiness in every area of their life. A bad job can sometimes even be worse for your mental health than having no job at all, with adults in poor quality work having higher chronic stress levels than people out of work.
As an employer, that makes it your ethical responsibility to do your best to boost your peoples’ wellbeing.
Even if you ignore your responsibility to look after your people, implementing a strategy designed to improve their wellbeing will also make your organisation more productive and profitable.
Don’t believe us? When respondents to the CIPD’s 2022 Health and Wellbeing at Work survey were asked what their organisation’s employee health and wellbeing activity has achieved:
- 48% said it’s created a healthier and more inclusive culture,
- 46% said it’s lead to better employee morale and engagement,
- 33% said it’s created more effective working relationships,
- 25% said it’s lead to lower sickness absence,
- 26% said it’s reduced work-related stress,
- 24% said it’s improved staff retention,
- 27% said it’s improved productivity.
Organisations that invest in employee wellbeing reap the benefits of a happy and healthy workforce. That means a more productive, effective, and profitable team who take less days off, stick around for longer, and engage with their work.
Want to reap the benefits of strong employee wellbeing within your business? Take the pulse of how your people are feeling using our ten wellbeing survey questions to support a healthy workforce. Pick up your free copy below to pinpoint where there’s room for improvement when it comes to your wellbeing strategy – and where you can quickly make the biggest difference.