Good health and wellbeing can be a core enabler of employee engagement and organisational performance. Getting the most out of your approach should include ensuring that your overall strategy has something for everyone.
We've identified seven inter-related categories of employee wellbeing, guided by the principle that an effective employee wellbeing strategy needs to go far beyond a series of standalone initiatives.
There’s no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to designing a health and wellbeing strategy; its content should be based on the unique needs and characteristics of the organisation and its workforce.
The underlying elements include examples of workplace initiatives and activities to support people’s health and wellbeing.
Employers have a responsibility to promote good physical health at work. There are a number of areas forward thinking employers can consider when doing this including good rehabilitation practices health checks, and benefits such as discounted gym memberships. Private medical insurance and cash plans can offer physiotherapy, and EAP’s (Employee Assistance programmes) can offer practical advice for keeping fit and well.
Employers have not only a legal responsibility, but an ethical responsibility to ensure safe working practices. They need to maintain safe equipment and provide training on how to use it correctly. Courses such as first aid training and manual handling (where relevant) can help reduce and prevent physical injury.
Mental health not only has a huge effect on productivity at work but it can also contribute to poor employee wellbeing. A lot of stresses many people face can come from work, so it’s important that HR teams look at effective stress management practices. These include risk assessments, workplace conflict resolution training as well as training line managers to have difficult conversations in an understanding and considerate manner. Many employers now look at managing poor mental health through employee benefits such as early intervention policies offered via income protection schemes and counselling offered via employee assistance programmes.
2. Good work
A good working environment is key for your organisations wellbeing strategy. A good working environment that enables people to work collaboratively can raise staff morale, making conversation and communication much easier which in turn can have positive implications on staff mental health. Employers may look to ergonomically design their working areas and adopt an open and inclusive culture.
Good line management
How you manage your people and their wellbeing is extremely important for both your people and your business. Employers should look at implementing effective people management policies and training for line managers especially when this comes to sickness absence management. Forward thinking employers may adopt an adaptive and considerate approach to sickness and poor mental health. In turn this can have a positive impact on overall wellbeing and keep good relationships between your people and the business.
Many daily stresses can be linked to work so when it comes to work demands, it’s important to adopt an adaptive approach when designing job roles. It’s important to consider job quality, workload and working hours, taking into consideration the needs of the business but also the wellbeing and work-life balance of your people. Employers can take simple steps to support their people in their role, which in turn can increase morale and job satisfaction.
When it comes to your people’s wellbeing, they need to be in control. Your people will likely know what they need for their wellbeing and so giving them options is an important thing. There are easy ways, thanks to technology, for your people to easily make choices in regards to their wellbeing package, with things like an employee benefits platform. These allow your people to see all the benefits available to them and make their choices easily online; as well as allowing you to track this in real-time. You can also send notifications about wellbeing benefits that will help your employees at the right time, using data you already hold. Your employees also need to be able to easily access help, should they need it. They should know that they have somewhere to refer to, helping them feel more comfortable and supported through any troubles they may be having at work.
They do say a change is as good as a rest but change will affect your people in different ways. Some people naturally embrace change and look positively to future opportunities. It can however be a scary or worrying time for some. Therefore it’s important to consider how you communicate change. Big change in a business will impact a variety of different factors in your people’s working life and impact the dynamic they have been used to. It is always a good idea to involve your people as much as possible in change and ensure that your business has strong leadership to drive change for the business, whilst keep your people’s wellbeing at the heart of what you do.
Pay and reward
It’s safe to say that one of the main reasons people go to work is to earn money but it’s not just about how much you pay your people when looking at pay and reward. Many employers now look to implement fair and transparent remuneration practices, with pressure mounting under policies such as gender pay gap reporting. Non-financial recognition, however, can go a long way too. It’s an important way to keep your staff motivated and raise the morale amongst teams. Even a simple “thank you” from a line manager is an easy way to effectively recognise effort on a project. Other things like team days out and office goodies can be low-cost and effective when it comes to keeping your staff motivated and happy at work. Not only can this have an effect on employee’s mental wellbeing but it, in-turn can lower staff turnover and help retain talent within your business.
To implement a business-wide employee wellbeing strategy, you need strong leadership driving engagement. With values-based leadership, and clear objectives around your company health and wellbeing strategy you can build a trust between your people and their employee wellbeing scheme. It is important that YOUR leadership team communicate effectively and support your people to understand the help and packages you offer to support them with their wellbeing in the workplace.
As well as a responsibility to ensure your people are safe and healthy at work, it is also important that employers comply with ethical standards. This includes ensuring people have dignity at work, as well as considering corporate social responsibility, community investment and volunteering opportunities. These factors contribute to your people’s overall wellbeing strategy, as well as the goals of the business.
Diversity in the work place is really important. Ensuring your workplace has a strong diversity and inclusion strategy is crucial to your people’s wellbeing and their comfortability in the workplace. Valuing differences within your workforce is extremely important to ensure that your staff are happy at work. This not only benefits your people but also helps to retain talent and diversify backgrounds and skills within your workforce. Forward thinking employers now look to make cultural engagement and training for employees and managers a key element of their overall strategy.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of an employee wellbeing strategy is allowing your people to have a voice about what is important to them. When designing your strategy, it’s important to correctly and clearly communicate. Employers can engage with their people well through consultation, genuine dialogue and involving them in decision making; taking into account what is most important to them and their wellbeing.
A disconnected workforce will not be a happy one. It is important that employers consider management style and team work to help ensure that people are happy in the workplace. Healthy relationships with peers and managers play a huge part in a company’s wider wellbeing strategy and can have a huge positive impact on people’s mental wellbeing and happiness at work. Your people deserve and require dignity and respect at all times, particularly when dealing with sensitive situations. Listening to views and ideas for the business’ wellbeing strategy is of utmost importance to ensure your people feel valued and enjoy coming to work. Again, this can also have a positive impact on the business in regards to retention and workforce satisfaction rates.
5. Personal growth
Career development opportunities not only benefit the employee but also the business as a whole. Offering opportunity for your people to progress and further their career can have positive effects on the business as you are developing a chain of highly skilled in-house professionals and opening up opportunities for new people to come into the business and be trained.
There are endless ways you can help your people with their career development through mentoring, coaching, performance management, development plans, skills utilisation and succession planning. Some employers also look to support their people through workplace benefits such as subsidising the price of qualifications to help people advance their technical knowledge.
Lifelong learning is an important part of a good employee wellbeing strategy. Supporting your employees with their professional goals will not only support their mental wellbeing, but will also support your business in building a highly trained and knowledgeable workforce. It also helps with staff recruitment and retention, building a reputation for your company as a good place to work. The steps an employer can take to support their people with their ongoing learning are really easy and can be relatively low-cost too. Access to training, mid-career reviews and technical and vocational learning are just some of the ways you can help your people towards reaching their goals. Your people may also want challenging work. For a good wellbeing strategy, people need to be challenged to support them reaching their professional achievements, but also ensure they feel their role is making a difference; by allowing them to see what part their role plays in the wider picture.
Even if your business isn’t creative by nature, it is important that you allow your people to be creative within their roles and their ideas for the business. You can create an open and collaborative culture in the workplace and introduce ways to involve people more within the business allowing them to be creative such; such as ideas and innovation workshops.
6. Good lifestyle choices
When it comes to wellbeing, there is, of course, only so much an employer can implement without the people making positive, healthy lifestyle choices, but that isn’t to say you can’t encourage them to do so, in fact many employers look to set up walking clubs, lunchtime yoga sessions etc. in order to encourage their people to take active steps towards better physical health. Charity walks can also be a great way to encourage your staff and also raise some money for worthy causes too.
Food, glorious food. Many of us really do enjoy our food but it’s often underrated quite how much of an impact diet can have on general wellbeing. Poor diet can not only have negative impacts on physical wellbeing but also mental wellbeing too, so it’s an important consideration. As with physical activity, this is a choice people have to make in order to see positive results but you can encourage your people to take healthy choices when it comes to food through ideas like recipe clubs and offering healthy menu choices in the canteen.
Fair pay and benefit policies
There are statutory requirements for UK businesses when it comes to pay and there are many policies a business needs to comply with when it comes to employee benefit offerings too. Businesses must ensure that employee pay rates meet, or even better, are above the statutory National Minimum/Living Wage respectively. Employers may want to go above and beyond for their people in this area, introducing things like a flexible benefits scheme, for example.
Approaching retirement can be a really exciting time but can also be daunting and it’s likely people are going to have a lot of questions. There is an obligation on employers to support people approaching retirement and this also helps the business with internal promotion. There are endless ways you can help people plan for retirement. Allowing a phased retirement such as a three- or four-day week is very popular to support them in settling into their new way of life. You can also offer pre-retirement courses. Some employers even offer retirement advice as part of their employee benefits package and this can be really useful, providing peace of mind to retire confidently without worry or stress.
Employee financial support
Financial Wellbeing is by far one of the biggest employee benefit trends currently. It’s not surprising as research suggests more than 3 in 4 people in the UK are stressed or worried about money. Therefore, financial support for your people should be a big factor driving your wider wellbeing strategy. Nowadays, there are many ways to help your people with their finances. Many employers offer an employee assistance programme offering debt support and signpost to external sources of free advice (for example, Citizens Advice) Access to independent financial advisers can be another way to help your people feel supported with their financial goals.
Financial education can be a great way to support your employees in their financial goals too, guiding them with the best ways to help themselves with their financial wellbeing. Workshops and webinars are great tools to use in order to educate your people about their finances. Even benefits like workplace discount schemes, subsidised lunches and free parking can help as part of a wider financial wellbeing package. These benefits might be small but when it comes to your people’s financial goals, every little helps.