Wellbeing is essential for a truly successful team
In my last article, What To Do If Sick Absence Is Killing Your Business I outlined the steps to take if the sick absence is a problem in your business.
The problem for any business if the focus is on managing absence is a classic example of firefighting and reaction management. Now don’t get me wrong, managing absence is a crucial activity, but it is much better positioned if it is a small part of your overall wellbeing approach and strategy.
Why develop a wellbeing culture?
What you focus on is what you get. Although Quantum Science has been around for some time and evidence is not totally conclusive, the concept of how thought and intention change reality is no longer dismissed by scientists. It’s why people with a ‘glass half full’ outlook will usually get better results than those with ‘glass half empty’ attitudes.
It is also why enlightened organisations will concentrate on celebrating success, cheerleading employee achievements and exceeding customer expectations. Imagine a different outcome – if organisations focused on failures, employee mistakes and difficult customers.
In his ground-breaking book, The Happiness Advantage, Shaun Achor, Harvard University Professor describes empirical research that shows “75% of our job success is predicted not by intelligence, but by optimism, social support network and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positive way.”
This is huge information and smart organisations will undoubtedly use this research to manage their workforce in a very different way.
Introducing a wellbeing culture
When developing a wellbeing culture, concentrate on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, as they are all interlinked. For example, mental and emotional stress can quite quickly turn into physical symptoms and illness if not managed well. Conversely, prolonged physical absence can seriously affect a person’s mental and emotional health.
1. Complete a physical environment audit
Whether the physical environment is both functional and pleasant is more important than you might think. People like to work in positive energy. A well planned out workplace is essential to minimise stress. Is the workplace conducive to help employees work to their strengths? Is there sufficient light, space, equipment? Do your employees have everything they need to be able to carry out their role easily? Make sure you have a work/life balance culture, and employees are encouraged to have lives after work. Make it mandatory to have lunch away from the desk, and in the summer if possible, provide some outside tables and chairs to encourage them to get fresh air.
2. Review your non-financial benefits
Gym membership is usually the first thing employers think of here, and if you can offer discounts or free membership to a gym or a sports association then that’s great. A fabulous message that you care about your employee’s well being is if you appoint an EAP (Employee Assistance Provider). These companies will often charge annually per employee, and provide confidential counselling and advice for your employees, and some with spin-off benefits like audits and advice to your organisation. Align your benefits package with healthy benefits; instead of working with employee benefits providers who offer benefits like discounted car insurance or discounted shopping vouchers, for example, find one who will offer discounted health care or healthy activities.
3. Evaluate the quality and scope of your communications
Plaster healthy messages around your business, from posters on walls, to a ‘healthy’ leaflet rack. If you provide eating facilities emphasise healthy eating. Include healthy ‘good news’ stories in your organisations publication, intranet or wherever you communicate to your people. Get messages printed on mouse mats or the bottom of payslips etc. By creating this thread, your employees will consciously and unconsciously absorb the messages.
4. Introduce health-promoting activities
Some companies will carry out free mini health checks at your organisation. Some charities will also come along and talk to your people in exchange for being able to tout for donations. Introduce a self-help page on your intranet, where employees can check their stress levels or find out about good nutrition. Sponsor health-promoting charities or organisations, or give employees time off to volunteer for the same.
5. Take a fresh approach to employee relations
Sometimes employee relations are approached as if they are only a means to satisfy legislative requirements, deal with unions and sort out contracts. But the way you relate to your people is vitally important. It is more than sorting out terms and conditions and managing change. How people are led, managed and engaged will help to build your relationship with your employees every day. Purposely encourage and promote great working relationships, not only between employee and employer but between teams and individuals.
6. Measure and get feedback
Develop a way of measuring wellbeing. This can be a combination of performance indicators such as absence levels, employee engagement levels, positive results and employee views. If you have an EAP you will get confidential reports about numbers of users and they will flag up issues for your organisation to consider, if appropriate. If you don’t have an employee survey or your survey doesn’t include meaningful questions about wellbeing, think about introducing and amending these to get the information you need.
You can find a round-up of recent research on wellbeing and healthcare useful to help you build a business case.
Do you have a wellbeing culture at work? Are you thinking of introducing a wellbeing strategy? If so, what are your fears and expectations?