Employee Well Being: The Ultimate Guide
Employee well being is a growing trend in businesses of any size, status or industry. Not to be confused with mental ill health, employee well being combines job satisfaction, overall happiness and health. A happy workforce doesn’t just benefit your employees it also boosts productivity and company success.
There are many external factors out of an employer’s or employee’s control that can impact the well being of someone at work, including family, financial matters and even personal attributes.
However, there are a variety of methods that can be implemented by an employer to optimise the well being of their employees.
We spend up to 90,000 hours of our lives at work and where we work can have a significant impact on our morale and overall workplace happiness. Innovative workplaces have the potential to have an impact on the wellbeing of their employees out of the workplace too.
Factoring in budgets and accessibility, we have looked at the ways in which employee well being can be aided by their employer and have created the ultimate guide for you and your business.
Mental health begins in the mind, it is a very personal and insular process that we all experience at different times and at different stages of our life, in our own ways. Psychological support comes in different modes externally, whether through psychotherapy or psychology. That being said, psychological support can still exist in the workplace that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of medical treatment or professional therapy and amplifies overall employee well being.
Training and personal growth opportunities are often a highly regarded selling point for many of us when searching for a new job. Offering learning and development opportunities gives individuals the chance to grow, reduces staff turnover and promotes a happy and healthy workplace. Individuals like to work where they feel their efforts are not only recognised but are provided the right attention to grow and develop.
What current L&D opportunities does your business offer? Are there other training programs you can introduce externally? Perhaps you can collaborate with local centres and training schools for employees’ personal development and the chance to upskill.
Stress Prevention and Management
Stress at work has significant consequences that impact our immune systems if continued for prolonged periods. Chances are we are all going to experience workplace stress at some point in our lives so finding the correct coping mechanisms and strategies is a realistic and logical approach.
As an employer overloading your employees with multiple tasks, tight deadlines and strict turnarounds indefinitely will impact their well being. Although some jobs and roles involve high-pressured tasks a balanced approach of flexibility, frequent breaks, open conversations and cognitive strategy approach to tackling big tasks can benefit both you and the employee.
A hard worker isn’t someone who works solidly without taking a break. Rather it increases burnout and lowers our productivity. Adequate breaks throughout the day increases focus and productivity when we need it most to complete important tasks. Promote the importance of taking frequent breaks away from your desk throughout the day to prevent your employees from feeling frazzled and the constant need to be ‘on’.
Attractive compensation for many employees in their benefits package is PTO. Paid time off isn’t limited to holiday and annual leave, it also includes sick pay and mental health days. Businesses that promote a positive working environment have happier employees and paid time off takes into account what should be included in an holistic approach to employee well being. Promoted in the correct way, mental health days deserve the same recognition as physical sickness to assist in normalising the conversation around health and well being and reducing absenteeism in the workplace.
Sense of Purpose
Having a sense of purpose at work drives passion and innovation. Leaders push ideas however most are driven and powered by their employees, and this comes with having a forward-thinking approach, across the wider business. Purpose at work can be balanced by personal purpose too and requires support in the workplace.
Keeping employees mentally challenged is one aspect. You could start with establishing what motivates your employees by having open discussions. These can be group-focused or individually. Lastly, if your business is in the position to, consider setting up mentorship programs within your organisation to raise talent and give employees a sense of purpose, holistically.
Mental Health Support and Training
In the workplace, managers feel the most responsible for the welfare of their staff however many do not and have not had access to the right training in order to be able to support their staff. Does your workplace have mental health first aiders, or mental health champions who continue to find new ways to promote a happy and healthy workplace? If not, could you offer mental health first aid training to managers that can be filtered down? Look where gaps lie and how you might be able to solidify ideas and concrete training sessions.
Supporting mental health in the workplace shouldn’t be confused with offering help when an employee is suffering with mental ill-health, it’s important to always maintain a consistent level of support where needed.
Goal & Target Setting
A journey without a destination can be unsettling and uneasy, therefore working towards a target is a healthy challenge for all employees. Not only does lack of direction potentially cause anxiety, unclear goals and targets can be a sign of poor management and poor business structure.
At work, we all need direction and guidance, even senior leaders. How do you set and manage targets, do you work with KPIs? Key performance indicators help personal and professional growth that benefits both you and the business. Alongside employees working to KPIs, check in with them by conducting regular one-to-ones. Talking with your team about management and working styles you can determine and establish how better to move forward for your benefit and to support their well being.
While our mental health is intrinsic, many external methods play a key role in maintaining positive and healthy well being. Poor or neglected physical health may contribute to developing mental health issues, in the same way poor mental health impedes our physical energy and health. Therefore the two, though treated separately, work in tandem and can both be supported to optimise workplace well being.
Falling ill or getting into an accident can be costly if you aren’t covered by an insurer. However being covered at work puts not only the employees’ mind at ease but yours as an employer too.
What current medical plan does your company offer? What can you change, add or adapt to enhance that offer? With medically-focused benefits, run a survey with your employees and figure out what they value and benefit from the most. With the results, work with your partners to resolve outliers or undervalued benefits.
Healthy brain development has a strong link between our diets and our mental well being. Both exist individually however they in fact coexist. Filling your body with junk food, high levels of alcohol and substances adds fuel to the fire for anxiety, depression and stress.
Therefore the importance of highly nutritious foods closes the gap between diet and mental ill-health. Though it might not be possible to employee someone in your workplace as an internal nutritionist, could extended training mean advice can be transmitted through internal marketing? Perhaps you could organise regular seminars or collaboration with local businesses and brands to promote healthy eating whilst at work that could influence how your employees eat out of work too.
Whilst many of us continue to work from home, the sofa-to-dining table work days have their advantages and disadvantages. Chances are, we have all come to realise the environment in which we work plays a huge role in how we work. As we begin to enter Autumn during COVID-19, regular remote working might be the latest development in office working beyond 2020. With this in mind, how can you improve your business’ environment for better employee well being?
Positive Workplace Culture
First and foremost a positive workplace culture should dominate your well being strategy. Workplace culture promotes a happy working environment that aids both your business needs and contributes to the overall performance of your workforce. To create a positive working environment, you need to lead by example. Look to your leaders, how do they operate? Are they consistent?
Look to the processes you have in place, along with your mission. How do these align with your employees? The clearer these are the more streamlined your business will be, leading to deeper happiness of your employees. For the ultimate guide on creating a positive workplace culture, read our article here.
Whether you’re the type to suffer when temperatures soar past 25 or you wrap yourself under layers once October hits, both can affect our ability to concentrate and stay focused and huddling over our desk impacts our posture. Is your office well insulated and how does it cope in the warmer months at keeping the heat out? If installing AC is not possible for you, perhaps you invest in desk fans or small heaters to be used during heatwaves and cold spells. Be mindful that everyone’s body is different and all should be taken into consideration when controlling the temperature of your office.
Consistent fresh air has many benefits from improving blood pressure, heart rate, strengthening our immune system and promoting focus and concentration. Can employees open the windows in the office, and are they safe to do so? With the ability to open the windows the air quality can improve to boost productivity and your employees’ well being at work.
If opening the windows is not possible due to architecture or height of the building, humidifiers and plants can work miracles in improving the air quality inside a less ventilated room.
Chances are whilst reading this you’re either looking down at your mobile or working from a laptop, but the impact this is having on your neck and shoulders is far greater than you might imagine. Some of us sit in the same position for up to eight hours, or more, a day, you imagine the constant position of our neck and shoulders over time causes damage and weakness. Physical ill-health can lead to a decrease in employee well being.
Whilst a comfortable workspace is easier to monitor and maintain at the office, have you supported your employees whilst working from home? Offer support by finding out about their home working situation, do they have a desk, and they have a desk chair? If not, you might want to look at resources and equipment you can acquire to make the working environment comfortable to help with working conditions.
A growing trend of businesses externally and internally is their investment in sustainability. How sustainable is your office space? Can you integrate more paperless procedures? If your recruitment process requires signatures on application forms and introduction letters, perhaps you could use a digital method such as QPage to keep all information on file in one place. Which electricals can you swap for more sustainable products, such as the lighting or heating systems? Utilise natural light where you can and surround your office with desk plants to purify the air.
Getting a break from your desk is a small win that aids generating fresh ideas and boosting morale and productivity. Employees who feel chained to their desk to inhale their lunch have increased stress levels due to neglected well being. Breakout areas are not only essential for employees to re-charge and de-stress, it offers the chance to take their break without disturbances leading to stronger well being and overall job satisfaction once they return.
Does your breakout area have comfortable seating and warming aesthetics? Are there tables for them to eat their lunch? Think about the ways you can improve communal spaces that promote social interaction as well as downtime.
Social aspects of a job can vary and can be small and easy to integrate. Formally known as an environment to work, studies show that strong social bonds create a cohesive and unified workforce. Stress at work can develop from overloaded task lists and never ending email chains, a social community opens doors for employees to share concerns, worries and stresses with colleagues.
You can begin this by facilitating an open-communication dialogue concerning queries and issues within teams or departments. Encourage employees to talk during meetings and discussions. This reduces stress levels and enhances job satisfaction and workplace well being.
How connected is your business to local communities? Community outreach is a tunnel that connects your business to the public. You can do this by organising local events to promote both your business and local organisations doing their part for the community. Look to events and companies that align with your business’ mission and passions and collaborate in ways that employees can be and would like to be involved with. Networking with like-minded individuals and organisations boosts morale whilst supporting businesses.
In the same way, community outreach gives something back to your local public, volunteering can have the same benefits and exposes your business as one that values their employees and gives back. Studies present, businesses that offer volunteering days or schemes have seen a reduction in sick leave and have a higher degree of job satisfaction. Volunteering with local communities opens our eyes and connects us with others to improve relationships and boosts morale and employee well being.
Communication is an important factor that contributes to the well being of your employees. It’s very easy to get caught up in our personal to-do lists without even looking up from our desks at how others are doing, however checking in with your staff regularly improves workflow, productivity and increases morale. Too much communication can be just as stressful as not enough at all, be sure not to micromanage if your employees work well left to their own devices. Perhaps you could run internal surveys and questionnaires to establish how you can improve your communication.
In today’s remote world, could you incorporate digital communication where possible whilst maintaining face-to-face communication too? It is important to continue with in-person communication for employees’ well being and in keeping quality relationships, which leads us onto our next point.
Relationships with Colleagues and Manager’s Support
The relationships we have with our colleagues and managers are integral to our happiness at work. Humans are social creatures and we surround ourselves with others to fulfill our needs. Employees are often happier when they have stronger relationships with colleagues and their line managers because social dynamics fuel open conversations, build trust and create mutual respect. As a pivotal method in creating a strong team, solid working relationships improve employees’ well being and increase individual job satisfaction.
There is no doubt about it that our deepest working gratitude is the monetary compensation it brings in order for us to live the life we wish. On average we change jobs five times in our lifetime and in today’s fast-paced world this is increasing. As careers come and go, the salary is still highly regarded in attracting us to something new and exciting and promotes employee well being. Whilst salary, by and large, can be a stand-alone benefit, it also works in tandem with many other benefits.
Benefits and Competitive Salary Package
A competitive salary does not only attract new starters but it helps to retain current employees and keeps them happy. Along with an attractive benefits package, employees feel their work and efforts are recognised and compensated fairly.
Look at the current benefits your business offers, can you integrate additional perks that might work for your industry and business? Ask your employees what they value, perhaps some want more mental health support, whilst others prefer discounted gym classes or memberships. Employee engagement surveys can help present information to you and senior leaders in deciphering the best route to action.
Support and Advice
We spend almost 13,000 days of our lives at work, and while we will have stressful days and periods, we should enjoy being at work and what we do. Support and guidance in the workplace go hand in hand with productivity and morale. Investing in regular one to ones, external support and creating an open conversation policy allows employees to open up and talk about any concerns they have at work.
Everymind offers tailored support in the workplace for employee well being and mental health. Suited to your business’ and employees’ needs, our mission is to normalise conversations in the workplace around mental health to break through the stigma and noise in today’s hectic world.