It’s a fact that a happy and healthy workforce is good for business. That’s because looking after both the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees offers a host of benefits, such as:
- Lower absentee levels – more people at their desks, more often, means more work gets done
- Better performance at work – happy employees are more enthusiastic and efficient, boosting your productivity
- More effective recruitment – a working culture that nurtures and protects employees makes your organisation attractive to the best talent in your sector
So, investing in the happiness and wellbeing of your employees not only helps your staff, it also boosts your bottom line.
This is supported by research, as studies show that organisations with effective employee wellbeing programmes consistently outperform the market. An analysis by the London School of Economics on data from the Royal Mail found that an investment of £45 million into health and wellbeing generated a £225 million return on investment from 2004 to 2007. The study concluded that, if the UK’s 13 worst-performing sectors followed suit, the British economy could benefit by £1.45 billion.
Also, a 2016 US study by the American Psychological Association found that 91% of workers at companies that support wellbeing felt motivated to do their best, compared to just 30% at companies without wellbeing support.
So, the benefits of a wellbeing programme are obvious – it leads to a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce.
But, how do you actually start your own programme – especially as you may be faced by a sceptical board, who will have to stump up the money, and a workforce who may be resistant to change?
There are four main steps in this process:
Sell the benefits to both sides
Step one is to get both your board and workforce onside.
For the board, put forward a business case that explains why wellbeing matters and how it makes good financial sense, using stats and studies to support your argument.
For your workforce, show them that they have a stake in this process and that better workplace wellbeing will make them happier and healthier. Then, involve your employees in the process by asking them what types of wellbeing initiatives they would like to see, with examples to help initiate ideas. This could be through a seminar, staff survey, or company-wide risk assessments that help identify what aspects of people’s jobs could harm their wellbeing. A few examples of typical wellness initiatives are listed below:
- Cycle to work
- Exercise and fitness schemes
- On-site yoga classes
- Flexible working hours
- Remote working once a week
- Mindfulness training
- Healthy eating in the office
You must also consider how to reach as many employees as possible. If you have a particularly diverse, or dispersed, workforce, then you will need to think hard about how to engage with them and encourage involvement. You may need to take into account certain cultural sensitivities or use tech to deliver initiatives through a web-based platform, so everyone can take part – regardless of location.
Make a plan
With board and workforce approval achieved, you must then make a plan. Think about your aims and objectives, then work out how you will achieve them and where you can get support.
Consider the logistics: Who will actually run the programme and will it be done internally, by outsourced providers – or both? And what sort of additional services could you use – such as training, discounted gym memberships, or access to health and wellbeing portals through your benefits providers?
Also, think about the resources required – in terms of finance, facilities and time. What do you need to purchase? Do you need to install anything or reorganise the workplace? How will you fit employee involvement into the working day?
You need to consider all these aspects and draw up a strategy before you start your wellbeing programme.
You may have a plan, but you still don’t know exactly how it’s going to pan out. So, it’s wise to start small, with just a few trial wellbeing initiatives, when you first roll out your programme. This prevents staff and people in charge of feeling overwhelmed and also gives you room to see what works well and address any obvious issues, such as scheduling conflicts.
After a while, when you feel the time is right, you can build out more aspects of your programme. At this stage, it’s also a good idea to appoint wellbeing champions amongst the workforce, who you identify as being most receptive to the programme. You can use your champions to promote the programme across the workforce, by encouraging others to take part and extolling the benefits of better wellbeing.
Starting a wellbeing programme involves more than implementing initiatives and leaving them to run without further input. Instead, you need to keep a check on your progress and ask questions, such as:
- Which initiatives are working well and which aren’t – and why?
- Which are the best and least engaged sections of the workforce – and why?
- How much is each initiative costing to run?
And when you know the answers, you must act on them to refine your programme.
This should be an ongoing process so that you are constantly improving your wellbeing programme to ensure ongoing engagement and return the best possible results.
The benefits of workplace wellbeing programmes are clear – they are both good for people and good for business.
But introducing one into your organisation must not be a rushed process. You must consult board and employees and ensure you have a solid plan in place before you start. Then by monitoring progress and tweaking the initiatives to enhance results, you can deliver a programme that boosts your business and improves the health and wellbeing of your employees.