Research by mental health charity, Mind found that 60% of employees say they’d feel further motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support their health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Employee wellbeing describes both the physical and mental states of your team while they are at work. Physical wellbeing in the workplace could involve the temperature in the office, the ergonomics of their chair or their activity level. Mental wellbeing supports issues like stress, depression or anxiety.
Given the amount of time employees spend at work, it is important for you as their employer to ensure the workplace is conducive to happy, healthy employees. Employee wellbeing is also directly linked to employee engagement and productivity levels. Research has shown that happy and healthy employees are more productive and valuable to your business overall.
In this post, we will outline how you can promote and support wellbeing in the workplace.
The importance of health and wellbeing in the office
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 their competition. 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.
14 Tips to support mental and physical wellbeing at work
Below, you’ll find 14 of the simplest ways you can support the health and wellbeing of your employees in the workplace.
Research has shown that employees that regularly multi-task become less productive over time. From checking emails to answering calls; jumping from task to task lends itself to a loss of focus and frequent dips in concentration. Encourage your employees to handle one task at a time.
Create a productive environment
We all work better in a space that is designed with productivity in mind. Good lighting can prevent fatigue, eye strain and headaches while using an inspiring colour palette for your office’s décor can stimulate brain function.
Open, shared workspaces are a breeding ground for creativity. Design your larger office areas with collaboration in mind. Plentiful seating and large tables will allow your team to get together and get their creative juices flowing.
Provide an EAP
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provide a platform for your employees to interact with qualified professionals and seek advice on most issues that impact their health and wellbeing. From personal problems and mental health support to work-related problems; EAPs are intended to help employees to deal with any issues that may adversely impact their work performance and overall health and wellbeing.
The ergonomics of our working environment can play a huge role in ensuring employees’ physical wellbeing. Take the time to make sure employee workstations are ergonomically friendly, comfortable and in good condition. Good ergonomics will prevent the occurrence of injury or damage to your employees’ physical health.
Match your environment to your culture
Your office environment and your culture should be in reflection of one another’s harmony. If you’re promoting a culture of fun, energy and teamwork, but your office is a sterile boiler room environment with little to no personality at all – this disconnect will be felt by your employees.
Create a proper break room
Having a dedicated space for your employees to relax and recharge during their breaks at work is key to health and wellbeing. Not only will they get a deserved break from their desks, but break rooms provide a space for your employees to socialise with their colleagues. They’ll return from their break feeling revitalised and ready to tackle the afternoon’s tasks.
Encourage work/life balance
We’re all guilty of working late and checking our emails on the weekend. But if you are giving your employees the impression that this kind of behaviour is expected; it is guaranteed that your employees will feel more stressed and as a result, more unhappy. Encourage your employees to use their time away from the office to recharge and relax.
Give frequent recognition
A large portion of our lives is spent at work, and it is important that employees are appreciated and recognised. Whether you deliver praise in public in front of their peers or in private, recognising your employees for their contributions to your business is core to a feeling of being valued in your business. Without it, you run the risk of employees becoming disengaged.
Explore your data
Your people data holds some powerful insights into the health and wellbeing of your employees. Find out if certain teams are disengaged or which offices have the highest levels of employee satisfaction. With this data, you can effectively make changes or enhancements to ensure all of your people’s health and wellbeing needs are being met.
Let the light in
Something as simple as upgrading your lighting in the office can make a huge difference to employee productivity. Research by the World Green Building Council has shown that exposure to natural light increases productivity by 18% and better lighting in general increases work rates by a staggering 23%.
Provide healthy food options
It can be very easy for employees to nip out to the nearest fast-food restaurant for lunch which can make them feel lethargic in the afternoon. Whether you have an office canteen or not, it is simple to swap unhealthy choices for healthier alternatives. This can be as simple as making a selection of fresh fruit available for snacks or changing up your canteen’s menu to include nutritious meal choices.
Ask your employees what they need
Make a point of regularly involving your employees in developing your health and wellbeing strategies. Find out if there is anything that could be changed, improved or introduced to better support their health and wellbeing at work. They may come up with some great initiatives that you hadn’t even thought of!
Schedule social events
Frequent social activities encourage your team to develop deep friendships with their colleagues. Whether it is drinks after work or a walk at lunchtime, encouraging your employees to spend time together will do wonders for their wellbeing. Emotional wellness at work is just as important as physical wellness; social events can really help to improve employee engagement.
How to initiate your own wellbeing programme
Considering the above, 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.
Conclusion on supporting wellbeing in the workplace
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 the 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.