Workplace wellbeing is one of the essential factors that determine an organisation’s continual success. Studies show that productivity levels are dependent on the wellbeing of the workforce. This means that a happy workforce is a productive workforce.
Luckily, enterprises and institutions are increasingly appreciating this, and they are striving to ensure their workers and employees are happy and motivated since they are their most important resource. Failure to promote workers’ wellbeing accelerates workplace problems such as stress, conflict, bullying, drug abuse, and mental health disorders, which in turn leads to low productivity and may cause business failure.
What is Workplace Wellbeing?
Workplace wellbeing refers to all facets of an employee working life within a business or an institution. These include the quality and safety of the physical environment, the climate at work, how they feel about their work, and work organisation. It aims to ensure that the employees are healthy, satisfied, safe, motivated, and committed.
Wellbeing at the workplace focuses on promoting the health of individual workers to achieve institutional wellbeing. It may involve employer-sponsored initiatives such as wellness activities, positive leadership, mental health programs, and so on. It may also include employee assistance programs such as exercise groups, resilience training, meditation classes, healthy eating programs, and the like.
Wellbeing in the workplace is a broad and vital topic that we should all learn about. Stick with me as we dive deeper into the benefits, how to promote wellbeing at work, and much more.
The Importance of Wellbeing at Workplace
A workplace plays a significant role in the life of an employee. Amazingly, you will have spent a third of your lifetime at work, which is more than 40 hours in a week. It impacts on your mental health and overall wellbeing. Studies show that when employees are happy, they spill over the benefits into other aspects of their lives.
Employee wellness programs benefit both employers and employees. It has a direct, tangible effect on the profits of a company. Here are some of the benefits which result when the companies embrace wellbeing at the workplace.
1. Improves Employees Productivity
As aforementioned, a healthier and happier workforce is a more productive workforce. When workers enjoy a happy and healthy environment, they become more productive, and you may start seeing exciting innovations in your organisation. Low employee productivity, also referred to as presenteeism, can extremely affect a business turnover.
When a worker is physically present at work but is not working, it is not only a waste of money for the company but also a waste of time for the employee. Although there are other causes of low productivity at work, research shows that poor health is the main cause. Wellbeing programs that aim at helping employees to nurture good health behaviors eventually have a positive impact on productivity.
2. Decrease Employees Absence
Like presenteeism, absenteeism harms a business or organisation. Workplaces that promote workers’ wellbeing experience less absenteeism. Employees who have good health behaviors, less stressed, and physically fit have lower absenteeism since they will spend more time at work. Likewise, employees who are motivated and have high morale are less likely to be absent from work.
3. Improves Employee Recruitment and Retention
There are many factors that you can consider before accepting a job offer. Among these are a good salary and a rich benefits plan such as free gym membership, access to health clinics, free wellbeing, and many more. A rich benefits package makes it easier to get the best employees and retain them. When employees feel loved and appreciated, they are less likely to move to another company and will stick in your company for a longer time.
4. Positive Health Benefits
The aim of every good wellbeing program is behaviour change. With the right training, motivation, tools, and social support, people can change behaviours. Wellbeing tips at work can have physical and mental health benefits. Employees are more likely to adopt and maintain healthy habits, which can lower their health risks.
These changes reduce the risk of chronic diseases and also absence from work. Wellbeing activities and studies help the employees to eat healthier foods, exercise more often, control their stress, and control their smoking or drinking habits. They also help to reduce healthcare costs although; this depends on how effective a program is.
5. Helps to Build and Sustain Employee Morale
Wellness programs display the goodwill of an employer to an employee and therefore raise their morale. Employees feel more valued when their physical, mental, and financial needs are met.
6. Increases Employees Engagement
Workplace wellbeing activities create a focused and engaged workforce. Group activities such as weight loss challenges, walking meetings, team building, and so on connect your employees to the organisation and their fellow employees. According to research, employee engagement is positively linked to better health and also increases their motivation to do their best. Engagement also helps to reduce the cases of bullying at work.
7. Reduces Stress
Workplace stress is real in our day to day lives. It is part of our daily lives and is unhealthy for workers and employers alike. As an employer, offering wellness programs such as exercise can help your workers to relieve stress and feel more relaxed. This improves their productivity and performance. Mindfulness improves memory, focus, and enhances self-insight.
Pillars of Workplace Wellbeing
To understand and achieve overall wellness in an organisation, an employer must be aware of the various dimensions of wellbeing. Here are the five crucial domains of workplace wellbeing.
1. Physical wellbeing
Physical wellness aims at having a healthy quality of life to function properly and optimally. It covers various elements, such as nutrition and activity. Physical wellbeing is all about being able to perform daily tasks without extreme tiredness and involves cutting off destructive habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol. It is one of the most addressed dimensions of wellness in the workplace.
2. Mental Wellness
It is also referred to as emotional wellness. It is the ability to accept ourselves and having the resilience to deal and cope with challenges that life and work bring. Research shows that there are more working days lost due to stress, depression, and anxiety. Supporting employee’s mental wellbeing at work can have a positive difference in a company.
3. Social Wellbeing
Social wellbeing is the ability to relate, connect with others, and maintain healthy relationships in the work environment. Social wellbeing creates a sense of belonging and makes people happier and healthier. It can be addressed in a working environment by encouraging people to engage with their fellow workers and staff.
4. Environmental Wellness
An employer should put into consideration the quality and cleanliness of a working environment. These include things like quality lighting, proper furniture selection, good air circulation, absence of noise and air pollution, clean water, and so on. These can directly impact on the wellbeing of the employees and the levels of productivity. Environmental wellness also entails protection from environmental hazards.
5. Financial Wellbeing
Financial wellness can be a sensitive topic for employers to approach. Though it may be overlooked, financial security and stability is a vital component of overall well being. It should be part of a wellbeing discussion. Apart from good pay, employers can offer employee assistance programs such as debt counseling and access to financial advisers.
How Do You Develop Workplace Wellbeing?
Developing an effective wellbeing program in the workplace takes time, commitment, and strategy. It should prioritise the employee’s needs and pain. A wellbeing program should be practical, relevant, and engaging with a strong drive, clear focus, and measurable outcomes.
An effective wellbeing program should seek to promote the overall wellbeing of the workforce. This means it should focus on the physical, social, mental, and emotional health. Most effective programs are embedded in the policies and strategies of an organisation. Here are eight stages on how to develop a health and wellbeing strategy.
1. Conduct an Assessment
Before you start thinking of initiatives, it is important to gather information, think through, and plan your approach. Consider the employee’s needs and wants. This information will enable the employer to design programs that will benefit both the employer and the employee.
You can achieve this by conducting surveys to evaluate the interests and needs of the employee, conducting a health risk assessment, conducting environmental audits, and so on. You can also conduct an assessment to determine the programs that will suit the company because not all wellbeing activities will be supported.
2. Obtaining Management Support
As with any initiative, management support is crucial in establishing a wellbeing program. Support will ensure you get the resources you need. However, you need to communicate the advantages that a wellness program will bring to the organization. You may need to present tangible data such as sickness records, employee engagement surveys, existing initiatives, leadership strengths and weaknesses, and so on.
3. Create a Wellness Team
After obtaining management support, an employer can create a team that will help to build and sustain a wellness culture in an organisation. The team will assist to build the support and effectiveness of the programs. They may help to develop a health promotion plan, assist in implementing and evaluating wellness activities.
4. Develop Goals and Objectives
Using the information gathered from the workforce assessment, the employer can create goals and objectives of the program. For instance, the goals may be to reduce healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism, and the like.
5. Set a Budget
Setting a wellness budget is vital since the program may not succeed without funding. The money will be required to hire educators, get educational materials, rewards for participation, and many more.
6. Design the Wellness Program components
The wellness programs may range from simple multifaceted programs. It is crucial to include a variety of components that target the needs and interests of the workforce. Examples include weight loss programs, nutrition education, smoking cessation programs, and much more.
7. Select Wellness Programs Rewards
Giving incentives is a powerful motivator to increase the participation rates of the individuals and also help them to complete a program. Rewards can be monetary, gifts, or event tickets.
8. Communicate the Wellness plan
This step involves writing and communicating the wellness policy. Effective communication will promote the program and ensure participation. The policy statement includes the organisation intent, involvement, and rewards concerning the employee’s wellness.
9. Evaluate the Success of the Program
It is advisable to evaluate the effectiveness of the wellness program to measure its success rate. Some programs may need revising or implementing new ones. Employers should have established metrics to measure wellness initiatives. Examples include information like participation rates, completion rates, reduction in absenteeism cases, and even the return on investment (ROI).
How Do You Promote Wellbeing at Work?
Companies and organisations still have a long way to go in implementing wellbeing programs in their workplaces. In the UK, research shows that 60% of employees say they would be more motivated and committed if their employers took action to promote mental well-being. In an organisation, both the employers and employees have a role to play in promoting workplace wellbeing.
1. Tips on How Employers Can Improve Workplace Wellbeing
a) Improving Communication and Feedback
Employers and managers can help to nurture wellbeing at work by regular communications with their staff and teams. Whenever an employee is going through a hard time, managers should be available to help and also listen to them. Although sometimes stress and anxiety may not be work-related, it hurts the productivity of a worker.
b) Encouraging a Positive Culture
A positive culture implies enhancing teamwork, collaboration, and information sharing across the company. This can also be done by involving the workers in decision-making and encouraging them to suggest new ideas and projects. It is crucial to describe the employee’s roles and tasks well so that they can get to know the importance of their contribution. A fun and productive environment has positive effects on the mental wellbeing of the workforce. A positive culture will also help to eliminate office politics.
c) Allowing Remote Working
As an employer, allowing the employees to work from home sometimes or a few days a month reduces stress since they will have more time to spend with their families. Remote working will also help to maintain a work-life balance and increase productivity. It is good to provide flexible working hours because everyone has demands and needs outside work.
d) Make Healthy Practices Available for Employees
A company can designate an area in the office building which can be used as a fitness centre. You can offer membership or discounted rates to local gyms or fitness centres as a benefit for the employee. Employees who can access fitness facilities are more likely to use them. Starting a sports team is also a great way to encourage fitness and teamwork.
e) Promote Healthy Diets and Lifestyles
A workplace can nurture unhealthy eating habits. People may be too busy to leave their work stations and may end up snacking on unhealthy foods to get through the day. If your company has a cafeteria for employees, you can promote healthy food choices and fresh fruits instead of sugar-laden snacks.
You can consider offering healthy meals as a benefit to your team. You can also encourage them to bring a healthy lunch to work. This will help save time and money while also promoting their health.
f) Give Opportunities for Health Education
Information is power. Sometimes your employees may not know how to nurture and maintain a healthy lifestyle. With busy schedules at work and home, they may not find time to seek such information. By bringing education speakers, nutritionists, health experts, chefs, and so on to for special classes, they can learn how to live healthier.
You can also allow the workers to take fitness classes during the day. An organisation can arrange health checkups twice or thrice a year to ensure the employees are aware of their health status.
g) Promote Employees Mental Health
Employees need a break from the working schedule. Providing relaxation time during the day will relieve them from fatigue and mental distress. Break time will help them to rebuild focus, recuperate, and also to work with more enthusiasm. The workers can use their downtime to catch up with other employees, take a brief nap, eat a healthy snack, and so on.
A company can set a game room with books, TVs, video games, and the like. Downtime is not only for employee wellbeing, but also beneficial for the company’s overall performance. Another way to promote mental wellness is by allowing the workers to take annual leaves. Some large companies offer counseling services to the employees where they can seek support and guidance.
h) Give Incentives and Rewards for Good Work
Recognising and rewarding your employees for good work will motivate them to work harder. It also helps to build their engagement and retain talent.
i) Conducive Working Environment
An employer should provide a conducive working environment, from lighting to furnishing the office. The layout of the office will affect how the employees will work during their office hours. An open office plan can encourage employee’s interaction if you want to create an environment where communication can thrive. The work tables and seats should be comfortable. Their designs should suit people of all sizes and shapes.
2. How Employees Can Nurture Their Wellbeing
Employees can only enjoy a wellbeing initiative by participating in them and by taking care of their health and wellbeing outside the work as well. Here are some of the ways that the workers can contribute to the effectiveness of a wellness program.
a) Setting Goals
As an employee, it is advisable to identify the area in your life that you need to improve your diet and set realistic and measurable goals. It is advisable to track your progress as you work towards making positive changes.
b) Get Support
Work together with other employees, peers, family, or even professional coaches to help achieve your goals.
c) Take Care of Your Health
You need to take care of your health day after day to stay on top and have more energy. The wellbeing health tips require resilience and will help your body and mind to perform optimally at work and home. Staying active will not only help you to be productive but will also reduce the chances of chronic health problems.
d) Take Control of Your Day
Adopt strategies that will help you have control of your day. Practising mindfulness helps to remain more focused and concentrate on our tasks.
Obstacles of Maintaining Wellbeing Programs at Work
Despite the many benefits of wellbeing in the workplace, starting and maintaining such programs is not always easy. Here are some of the barriers that employers need to overcome in establishing such programs.
1. Undefined Purpose
A wellness program can fail to thrive if it does not have a clearly defined purpose. When creating a program, it is advisable to state a vision and mission statement so that the employees, committee members, and staff may know how to assess value and success.
2. Lack of Interest
If the employees are not interested in a wellness program, it may be hard to take off. The lack of interest may be due to inadequate information about the programs. Others may show interest in participation but when the actual activity kick-off, their interest dies. To motivate them, the employers should promote the programs heavily, stating the benefits and the rewards in any. It may also be instrumental to show them the financial benefits associated with their participation.
3. Lack of Funding
Starting and sustaining an effective wellness program requires funding from the company’s budget. A budget should allow for promoting, outsource occasional educators, fitness classes, incentives or rewards, and so on. The best way to get funding is by seeking approval and involving the leadership in the program.
4. Lack of Time
Lack of time may pose a challenge to the wellness program organisers. Most employers may be unwilling to allow their workforce to spend more time in programs away from their duties. To overcome such a challenge, programs may be arranged during lunchtimes or breaks. This will allow the employees to participate without affecting the work schedules.
Another challenge on the side of the workers is the lack of time investment. Some individuals may have ample time to engage in such programs and be willing to make positive changes in their lives but unwilling to invest the time for their wellbeing. A survey reveals that 70% of employees are interested in improving their health and wellness, but most of them do not want to spend time on it.
Benefits of wellbeing in an organisation cannot be overlooked. Although an employer may not have control in all the areas of an employee’s personal life, some key areas can be addressed to help relieve some of the pains they are experiencing. It is important to note that every employee is different, so you need to cater to each individual in the best way that supports them.
While organisations can do their best to promote workplace wellbeing, the employees should also play their part. A person’s health and wellness is their responsibility.