Supporting the health and wellbeing of employees
Health and wellbeing at work encompasses staff's physical and mental health, and as a result, their attitude toward their job, colleagues and the wider business. Employers who want a productive workforce need to ensure they nurture an environment of respect, support and community, alongside having a tangible health and wellbeing policy based on staff needs.
What is wellbeing?
What do we mean by wellbeing in the workplace? It’s a broad term that encompasses our physical, emotional and mental health, which is why it goes beyond standard health and safety measures.
Our wellbeing at work is impacted by our environment, the colleagues around us, and our sense of purpose in our career path – which all have implications for our overall happiness and job satisfaction.
Businesses can do their bit not only to create safe environments for staff, but to create a healthy culture where people are comfortable, happy, supported, engaged and able to perform their roles in a productive way.
Factors contributing to wellbeing
The CIPD points to the factors that impact an individual’s wellbeing at work:
This includes the mental and physical health, and safety of employees.
This encompasses the requirements of the job, the working environment, clear management, staff autonomy, ability for employees and the business to change and adapt, plus pay and reward.
Values and principles
This area focuses on business leadership, ethical standards and diversity and inclusion.
Collective and social
This is the need for positive relationships and communication across teams. Employees also need to feel heard and involved in decision-making.
Offering career development opportunities, fostering emotional connections with colleagues and a strategy of continued learning is essential to cover off this element.
Why is wellbeing important?
Promoting health and wellbeing
Employee welfare points to optimising the physical and mental health of employees, so that they can thrive and ultimately be satisfied in their job. Fostering an environment where the wellbeing of employees is a priority creates a positive, productive culture and helps to prevent – or at the very least, manage – the stresses of working life.
Employee engagement and job satisfaction are very much linked to the wellbeing of individuals – often, these can be difficult to measure in silos but by mapping out more tangible areas of focus, businesses can form targets as part of their wellbeing policy.
Measuring the impact of a wellbeing strategy
Consider how you could track changes to measurables such as:
- Sick days – track trends throughout the year, to understand underlying causes of absenteeism.
- Staff retention – compare average length of time working for the business across roles and departments, and make use of exit interviews for qualitative data.
- Employee satisfaction – utilise an ‘NPS’-like score and ask staff to rank different areas of their job so HR teams can understand employee sentiment.
- Employee engagement – identify what’s important to your teams and what steps you can take to boost involvement in socials, business incentives, or general involvement in the business.
- Take up of employee benefits, focused on mental or physical wellbeing – if take up is low, consider if a particular benefit is still fit for purpose.
- Productivity – harder to measure, but remember quantity isn’t the same as quality; you can also consider introducing remote or flexible working to help staff manage their time in a way that works for them.
Overall, keeping clear KPIs in mind means you can map the success of a wellbeing programme, and insight can be gathered using HR business tools that track company-wide data, as well as internal employee surveys.
Championing mental health in the same way as physical wellbeing is essential, as the two are very much interlinked.
Work-related stress might show itself in a range of ways, depending on the individual. Totaljobs research has highlighted that one symptom of this is presenteeism. 43% of UK workers feel the need to work beyond their scheduled hours, in to avoid looking as though they are ‘slacking’. Similarly, a quarter of UK workers feel pressured to work through their lunch break, which can quickly lead to burnout. Managers should highlight the importance of taking time out during the working day, and encourage staff to leave work on time to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Have open conversations about managing workload and prioritisation to understand the causes of this self-imposed pressure to keep working.
It’s not just the job itself that can impact our mental health – it’s how we socialise and build relationships with colleagues that plays a huge role in how satisfied we feel in our careers. In March 2020, Totaljobs partnered with mental health charity Mind, to better understand the causes and impact of loneliness at work.
According to Mind, loneliness and mental health are closely linked. Feeling overwhelmed with projects has implications. If someone feels they’re tackling a task without support from their wider team or manager, or they feel their to-do list is unmanageable, this can leave them feeling isolated. By encouraging a member of staff to be open about how they feel and respecting confidentiality, you can support them and ensure their mental wellbeing is put first. Find more tips on tackling loneliness at work here.
Some simple factors that can play a role in the physical wellbeing of a team or company include, alongside having a comfortable working environment:
Nutrition: many businesses offer snacks or free breakfast as a company benefit; ensure you include a range of healthy options.
Fitness: whether employee-led, or part of a company benefits package, having a dedicated place online where staff can access workouts, gym memberships, cycle to work schemes, or free fitness resources can help to promote health and wellbeing.
Team charity runs or fitness challenges: companies can get staff involved in marathons, walks or challenges such as the Three Peaks or Tough Mudder, to boost team morale and get people moving, all while raising money for charity. Or, get creative and make your own challenge!
Staff wellbeing resources and ideas
Mental health charities
Wellbeing in the workplace online learning – Samaritans
Podcasts on Apple Podcasts or BBC Sounds
- Feel Better, Live More – Dr Ranjan Chatterjee
- Happy Place – Fearne Cotton
- Free courses, including digital illustration, interior design, productivity, photography, blogging
- Rabbi Lord – How we can face the future without fear
- Olivia Remes – Managing Anxiety
Exercise sites and apps
- Couch to 5k
- Psycle are offering a range of virtual exercise classes
- Kayla Itsines
- Downdog for yoga