Health and wellbeing are quickly becoming just as important in the office as it is in our everyday lives. Many of us are becoming more concerned with wellbeing and as the place we spend most of our time our work life has also come under scrutiny. Unfortunately, wellbeing at work isn’t always taken seriously and many employers still don’t have a workplace wellbeing programme in place despite many of the benefits we now know these types of schemes can have.
While it may seem like common sense that better health and wellbeing makes people happier and more focused, in the workplace it’s often only facts and figures that count. Fortunately, there have now been hundreds of studies that show how workplace wellbeing programs that promote healthier lifestyles and consider work-life balance are just as beneficial to businesses as they are to the employees themselves.
Perhaps the most important benefit of wellbeing schemes is their benefit to employee’s health. Companies that promote healthier eating and exercise can help their workforce minimise the risk of heart disease and other health concerns.
As well as being great for employees, this can also reduce the mount of time employees take off for these various health issues which is good news for the business too. This includes stress and fatigue, which we now know can directly cause cardiovascular problems and is a main driver behind absenteeism.
It should come as no surprise that healthier and happier employees are more productive. When we eat better and exercise more we are usually less tired and find it much easier to focus better and for longer. In fact, unhealthy lifestyles are correlated to unproductive workplace habits.
Presenteeism, when employees are physically present in the workplace but don’t do work due to fatigue or distraction, is one of the most common problems at work today and has been shown to much more prevalent in employees with unhealthy behaviors. Smokers for example were 28% more likely to have high presenteeism than non-smokers, while employees with an unhealthy diet were 66% more likely than those who ate healthier foods.
Additionally, the physical risk factors of an unhealthy lifestyle such as chronic disease and pain also greatly increase the likeliness of presenteeism. The same study showed that employees who suffer from and neck and back pain are more likely to have high presenteeism that employees who don’t.
As the up and coming workforce, often the largest segment in today’s largest job markets, and our future leaders, companies should be looking to meet the needs of this group to attract and keep the best of the bunch. Many employers may think this is higher salary or having the latest technology, but a recent Deloitte study found that a good work-life balance was the number one factor millennials considered when evaluating job opportunities, even beating career progression.
Wellbeing and a work-life balance is also key to employee retention. If employees feel neglected or overworked it’s no surprise that they’ll look elsewhere, but wellbeing benefits and bonuses from other companies could also be a big draw even if employees are relatively happy at work. In a competitive jobs market where retention is a huge challenge but can cost more than double the employee’s salary in severance and sourcing new hires, employers should be going above and beyond basic wellbeing.
Despite plenty of research readily available to show the benefits of wellbeing in the workplace many employers have yet to make it a priority. Some don’t see the tangible value and struggle to measure any quantifiable benefits for their business specifically, while others are simply unsure how to integrate wellbeing into their current employee experience.
The good news is that once a wellbeing program is in place, employees should adopt and maintain healthy behaviours for years to come making wellbeing an intrinsic part of your culture. With the right guidance and tools in place, it’s possible to make wellbeing an important and natural part of your work culture and even measure the results.
Tackling the physical aspects of wellbeing in the workplace is the easiest the start with but the hardest for employees to adopt. The key to promoting healthy eating and exercise is to make it fun and promote the other benefits of workplace exercise such as the social aspect. For example, organising healthy lunches where each employee brings in a healthy dish to share or organising regular activity days including assault courses and team building days that have now become so popular.
You can also think about bonuses and benefits you can offer to employees which can often be a strong enticement for new hires. Many companies are now looking at offering discounts for gym membership if they don’t have their own gym on site or offering healthier food in the cafeteria.
The key to work-life balance is keeping things social in and out of the workplace. Encouraging employee social interactions can help to create a friendlier work environment that can easily spill over into employees lives outside of work as well. For businesses, improving social factors in the workplace can also mean better collaboration for workplace projects, driving both creativity and efficiency.
One of the easiest ways to improve this aspect of work is to use various social platforms such as internal social networks or messengers as well as forums. This creates online spaces for employees from across the entire business to interact and build both their formal and informal networks. Have a single online platform is also a good way to promote social events at work such as networking evenings or out of work activities.
It’s no secret that development and progression is important in the workplace. Many employees choose to leave or stay based on the opportunities for career development within the company but learning and development is also vital for our own wellbeing. Without goals and a focus, many can feel lost and directionless which can lead us to feel unmotivated and tired at work.
It’s important that employers make sure there are courses and learning opportunities in place and accessible such as via a Learning Management System. An LMS can also be used to promote courses on wellbeing itself, teaching managers and colleagues to look out for signs of fatigue, how to reduce stress and even tackling the stigma of mental health.
Rewarding employees is also a good way to show them that you care and provides another opportunity to promote workplace wellbeing. Instead of focusing on monetary rewards like bonuses, think about other ways to reward employees to help improve their work-life balance such as awarding extra annual leave days or activity days.
When it comes to wellbeing it’s important to lead by example. Rather than just telling everyone the benefits of health and wellbeing practices, create a formal wellbeing guide and implement the practices at work from the top down. This should include the types of benefits you plan to include as part of your wellbeing packages such as gym passes, as well as a risk assessment to assess health and wellbeing in the workplace. Health and safety concerns such as screen glare, ergonomic desk equipment and encouraging standing exercising during the day are all part of wellbeing.
You can even introduce wellbeing as part of your KPIs and give both managers and employees wellbeing targets to meet to help promote behavioural change. This could be ensuring employees are taking the right amount of break time or utilising some of the benefits and wellbeing activities available in the workplace.
After implementing wellbeing into all aspects of the workplace the next challenge is measuring their success. Having a robust HR management system, particularly one with a focus on wellbeing such as Success Factors Work-Life, is key to tracking and using data associated with wellbeing practices. This type of system can provide the tools to survey and measure employees to gauge qualitative measurements such as satisfaction at work along with more quantitative results such as engagement for courses, activities and other practices put in place.
Based on these measurements and the success of your wellbeing schemes, you can then adjust your strategy to improve future wellbeing. Invest more into the activities that inspire the most engagement and improve or scrap the ones that don’t to make the most of your budget and keep wellbeing profitable for your business. Want to know more about nurturing a culture of wellbeing in your workplace? Contact us today to find out how the Success Factors suite, including Success Factors Work-Life, can help your business.