Employee Wellbeing: A Beginners Guide

Employee Wellbeing: A Beginners Guide

Flexible working hours, health insurance plans, company bank holidays… 

Benefits like these are proven to boost employee wellbeing in the workplace. By introducing these perks, organisations feel confident that their staff are gaining a better work-life balance, ultimately having a positive effect on your employee’s mental health. 

However, a recent Gallup report showed that 76% of employees have admitted experiencing symptoms of stress and burnout for reasons ranging from poor management to high workload, and unfair treatment at work. Companies must do better to ensure that their employees feel valued, and that their wellbeing is at the top of their priority. 

In this guide we’ll explain why employee wellbeing is so important and what you can do to boost a positive working culture and make your workforce happier. You’ll learn:

Before we get started, take this short quiz to find out how well your current wellbeing strategy is doing and receive a solution to improve employee wellbeing throughout your company.

What is Employee Wellbeing?

Wellbeing is essentially how someone feels about various aspects of their life – their home life, their health, their relationships with others, their job and other activities. It’s about whether they feel well and happy.

When talking about employee wellbeing, think about it as the way employees’ duties, expectations, stress levels and working environments affect their overall health and happiness.

What is Employee Wellbeing in the Workplace?

Employee wellbeing relates to all aspects of working life, including the environment employees work in, the climate in the workplace and how a workforce feels about their day to day work. Wellbeing is a key factor determining an organisation's long-term success and effectiveness.

According to the CIPD’s health and wellbeing report, HR managers identified within a survey that only 40% of UK businesses have a standalone employee wellbeing strategy. What’s more, mental health is responsible for 56% of long-term unplanned absences, making it the most common cause of long-term absence.

Employee Wellbeing vs Engagement

Employee Wellbeing involves several categories of wellness, which may include:

  • Physical Health 
  • Emotional Health
  • Psychological Well Being
  • Social Relationships
  • Financial Stability

Essentially, employee wellbeing looks at employee experience at work from a holistic view and asks, “do they have what they need to do their best work?”. Looking at employee wellbeing in your workplace is important for reducing work related stress or instituting incentives for healthy living. 

Employee Engagement on the other hand, is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals. It has been proven to:

  • Reduce staff turnover
  • Improve productivity and efficiency
  • Increase employee retention
  • Deliver higher profits
  • Boost business connectivity and performance
  • Reduction in absenteeism

The emotional commitment they have for their company means engaged employees actually care about the work they do. They don't work just for the pay, but work on behalf of the organisation's goals, ultimately creating more success for the company.

Why is Employee Wellbeing Important?

If you aren't taking a proactive approach towards workplace wellbeing, then your workforce is more likely to be unhappy, unmotivated and unproductive. You need to address this immediately. After all, we all spend most of our week in the workplace (sometimes up to 40+ hours a week).

Creating employee wellbeing initiatives should be just as important as building your brand and developing your product. You need to think about your people - think about what you are going to do to improve their happiness in the workplace. It can truly make a difference and improve employee productivity across the whole organisation.

The benefits of making wellbeing a top priority in the workplace are:

  • Improved team focus
  • Reduce of stress
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Positivity among employees
  • Improved general wellbeing

Specific benefits to your organisation include:

  • Higher performance levels
  • Improved productivity
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Attract top talent 
  • Be seen as a fantastic place to work!

By improving your employee health and wellbeing, you're not only giving them an environment in which they love to come to work every day, but you're helping to create a more motivated, engaged and high performing workforce. This ultimately creates higher organisational success.

The Key Domains of Employee Wellbeing

There’s no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to designing a wellbeing strategy; its content should be based on the unique needs and characteristics of the organisation and its workforce. CIPD have identified 7 key domains of employee wellbeing that you should consider and start implementing before putting together a strategy.

1. Health

Physical Health - Health checks, wellbeing benefits, health insurance protection, managing disability, occupational health support, employee assistance programmes. 

Mental Health - Stress management, conflict resolution training, training line managers to have difficult conversations, risk assessments. 

2. Good Work

Working Environment - Ergonomically designed working areas, open and inclusive culture.

Good Management - Effective people management policies, training for line managers, sickness absence management.

Work Demands - Job roles, job quality, workload, working hours, job satisfaction, work-life balance.

3. Values/Principles

Leadership - Values-based leadership, clear mission and objectives, building trust with employees.

Ethical Standards - Dignity at work, corporate social responsibility.

Diversity - Diversity and inclusion, valuing difference, cultural engagement.

4. Collective/Social

Employee Voice - Communication, involvement in decision making.

Positive Relationships - Management style, teamwork, respect.

5. Personal Growth

Career Development - Performance management, mentoring, succession planning.

Emotional - Positive relationships, personal resilience training, financial wellbeing.

Creativity - Open and collaborative culture, innovation workshops.

6. Good Lifestyle Choices

Physical Activities - Walking/running clubs, lunchtime yoga, charity walks.

Healthy Eating - Recipe Clubs etc

7. Financial Wellbeing

Fair Pay and Benefits Policies - Pay rates above the statutory national minimum wage, flexible benefits scheme.

Retirement Planning - Pre-retirement courses for people approaching retirement.

How to Improve Employee Wellbeing

We understand that it can be tricky to start building an employee wellbeing strategy, so we’ve put together 11 top tips on how you can start improving employee wellbeing within your organisation today.

Tip 1: Communicate Effectively

Poor communication in the workplace will inevitably lead to unmotivated staff that may begin to question their own confidence in their abilities and organisation.

Utilise Pulse Surveys and Quick Polls to create digital surveys for your employees to fill out and gauge how people feel. Some people may want personalised support, but by asking the following types of questions you can understand what kind of employee wellbeing strategy you may wish to offer your employees.

Survey questions may include:

  • Are you in a comfortable working environment?
  • Is your workload manageable?
  • Are you content with where you are in our career?
  • Do you have a good work/life balance?
  • Is there anything we can do to help you?

Keep your survey results anonymous. This way, your employees will feel like they have a safe place at work without worrying about social or professional repercussions.

Tip 2: Give Recognition

Although there are many factors outside of the workplace that can contribute to poor mental health, problems in the workplace are very common. This is why workplace wellbeing is such an important topic that should be given the respect it deserves.

Heavy workload, bad management and poor work/life balance are just a small number of problems that can have a negative impact on mental health. A study conducted by Capterra found that more than half of respondents (56%) felt undervalued and that their efforts weren’t recognised. If your employees are feeling undervalued, they won't be having an enjoyable time at work.

Employee recognition in the workplace has to be a vital part of a company's culture. In today’s work environment, the companies with the most satisfied and engaged employees are the ones that have the best training programmes and well-skilled staff.

Oak’s employee recognition feature helps your company boost morale and let your employees know that you care by celebrating milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries. It has an inbuilt timeline, meaning your employees can comment on achievements at any time. This creates a positive working environment, which will in turn, boost morale and improve employee wellbeing.

Tip 3: Introduce Flexible Working

Consider offering flexible working so that your employees can fit their job around their needs. This could include flexible start and finish times or encouraging employees to take more frequent breaks.

By noticing the needs of your team, it will widely improve employee wellbeing across the company. Making sure your employees are happy and healthy should be one of your top priorities - if you care for your team, they will care for you and your company which will lead to higher employee retention.

Tip 4: Encourage Personal Development

Creating a culture of personal growth means ongoing training and development. Personal development is something that should be encouraged to strongly improve employee wellbeing. Personal development is not only about improving life at work, but personal life too. 

Personal development starts from within, but it should be encouraged by employers, management and HR professionals to reinforce its positive effects. Those in HR may, in fact, be in the best position to set an example, inspire personal growth, and offer support to employees in achieving that growth.

Tip 5: Boost Team Relationships

In most cases, the key to a happy team comes down to whether they actually get along. To encourage good working relationships, you should implement more team building activities, informal meetings or lunches/evenings out to bring your team together.

Not only will this support a more fun and sociable atmosphere, it’ll also mean everyone is able to get their ideas and opinions heard. After all, there may be some members of the team that wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to properly interact beyond some brief small talk in the lift.

Giving employees a voice within your workplace will be key to boosting overall morale.

Tip 6: Encourage Social Interaction

Social isolation can trigger depression and anxiety. While supportive relationships with friends, family, and colleagues are beneficial to the mental health of individuals. People with a good network of friends and family generally have better mental and physical health than those who lack these networks. 

By utilising Hubs within your company intranet software, you can create a social community for your employees; this is a space where people can share their experiences with other like-minded members, therefore, increasing a sense of belonging.

Social tools used in the right way can unlock connections that used to be impossible and with every new connection comes with a new opportunity for social interaction.

Tip 7: Promote Self-Care

A Korn Ferry study reveals that 73% of American professionals were feeling burned-out and the top reasons cited were no separation between work and home and unmanageable workloads.

Most of us have no problem prioritising an extra work task for our manager or someone else even after having worked a long day, but the idea of prioritising ourselves and our health is not something many of us are accustomed to doing. The truth is, unless we make a conscious choice to look after our health and wellbeing, it won’t happen. 

As a business, you can start by creating areas within your digital workplace to offer self-help and provide suggestions for simple ways in which your employees can begin to make positive changes. These areas can provide many links of support to third party websites and contact numbers your employees can reach out to. 

Tip 8: Introduce Work Perks

Keeping employees happy while they’re working can be tricky. So introducing work perks and benefits is the perfect way to ensure that morale is always kept high in the workplace. This could be anything from team events to paying for your employees’ gym membership or exercise class.

Here at Oak, we’ve introduced Oak Bank Holidays to make sure employees get the rest they deserve. Just like an actual bank holiday, we shut down the office for the day and relax. 

Having that extra time off really boosts productivity among teams, enabling employees to do the best work they can do and ultimately creating further success for your company.

Tip 9: Encourage Good Lifestyle Choices

By making sure your employees are aware of the dangers of sitting long periods of time, and educating them on how they can keep moving throughout the day, you are helping prevent illness and maintaining a happy and healthy workforce. 

At Oak, we encourage flexible working to ensure that employees have the opportunity to get some exercise throughout their working day. Furthermore, with Oak’s social intranet, hubs can be created for like-minded people on topics such as sharing healthy recipes, dog walking or joining the company running club. 

Create communities and improve your culture. Hubs bring like minded people together through virtual groups where they can collaborate, strengthen bonds and grow together. 

Tip 10: Give Regular Performance Reviews

A performance review is extremely beneficial  to the development of your employees. By conducting a performance appraisal, they’ll have an idea of how they’re getting on in their role, identify areas for improvement and conduct a self-evaluation. It’s also a chance for your employees to give you feedback; this could be feedback about the performance review or feedback about leadership in your organisation. They’re a two-way process that requires a lot of communication from both parties.

It’s also important to conduct regular performance appraisals for the peace of mind of your employees. Being left in the dark about anything is unsettling, but when you’re left unaware of how well you’re performing it can feel worrying.

Tip 11: Implement a Company Intranet

If you haven't already implemented a company intranet, this is your opportunity to find a software to suit your needs. Intranets can play a highly positive role in supporting health and wellbeing in several different ways, and intranet teams have an opportunity to consider the active role the intranet plays in protecting and promoting these values.

Wellbeing and Remote Working

Working from home can have a serious impact on wellbeing. It can affect it in two ways:

  • Loneliness and Isolation 

When separated from colleagues or a normal office/working environment, individuals can start to feel isolated and lonely. 

Feelings of isolation can increase stress levels and bring a sense of disengagement to both an employee’s work and the company itself, both of which negatively affect emotional wellbeing. 

  • Burnout 

When working remotely, it can be easy for work to seep into an employee’s personal time. Remote employees can often work longer hours and feel that they have to contribute more because they aren’t in the office. This lack of work-life balance can lead to high stress levels, which ultimately turns to burnout if left unresolved. 

You can support the wellbeing of your remote employees by:

  • Establishing boundaries between work and personal time
  • Set up regular one-to-one meetings
  • Encourage regular breaks
  • Set wellbeing goals
  • Check-in with your workforce

Now that you can put these 11 simple steps into practice, your company wellbeing strategy should start to be part of your workplace culture. It’s always important to identify the problems first before implementing a solution. 

How to Ensure Your Employees Wellbeing

Your company wellbeing strategy should be part of your workplace culture. It’s important to identify the problems first before implementing a solution. To sum up, use this list as a starter guide to improving your employees wellbeing today:

  • Recognise good work
  • Boost team relationships
  • Offer flexible working and benefits
  • Promote a more healthy lifestyle 
  • Communicate effectively
  • Give your employees a voice
  • Accept regular feedback
  • Raise the profile of mental health

Learn more about

Mental Health in the Workplace >


 

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