Companies like Google are notorious for providing their employees with free gourmet cafeterias, nap pods, massages, and investing a huge amount in their well-being. However, do such investments make sound business sense? After all, why should companies look after the health and well-being of their employees?
What the studies conclude…
One of the primary aims of any business is to improve their bottom line. But did you know that low productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism and employee turnover, cost UK businesses nearly £26 billion each year? Likewise, physically and mentally unhealthy employees are less effective and engaged, which impacts your bottom line further.
Investing in well-being measures not only benefits the employees, but also the company. (…) well-being creates workplaces which support health and happiness so that people can flourish and reach their potential. It involves the creation of an environment that actively promotes a state of contentment, benefiting both employees and the organisation. – A CIPD factsheet
The factsheet further highlights that when companies invest in well-being, they witness an increased resilience, greater innovation, and higher productivity. In a nutshell, focusing on employee well-being makes good business sense.
But what factors influence employee wellbeing? And how can companies ensure that their employees are healthy, happy and comfortable, without all the Google frills?
Nurturing a positive culture
An article in Harvard Business Review reflects that a stressful and pressure-driven culture harms employee productivity and engagement over time. And companies that fail to recognise well-being as a key factor see their best talent dropping like flies from their organisation. Well-being comes from one place, and one place only – a positive culture. Companies that have a highly competitive culture are bound to have a poorer employee health equation, while those that promote a positive culture have more productive, committed, engaged and high-performing employees.
(…) a positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This, in turn, improves people’s relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and their creativity. It buffers against negative experiences such as stress, thus improving employees’ ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties while bolstering their health. And, it attracts employees, making them more loyal to the leader and to the organisation… When organisations develop positive, virtuous cultures they achieve significantly higher levels of organisational effectiveness – including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.
Wellbeing is contagious
A Gallup study by the same name suggests that the wellbeing of employees is significantly connected to, and dependent on, the wellbeing of each other. It further states that wellbeing is shared within existing formal and informal networks and that it spreads, based on social ties.
The study points out that an employee’s wellbeing is not just influenced by that of their peers, but also the wellbeing of their manager. Insurance costs businesses a substantial amount of money. And so do absences, turnover, and low productivity. All those problems can be directly or indirectly associated with low worker wellbeing.
Employee wellbeing: whose duty is it anyway?
Employee wellbeing is a responsibility that is shared by all stakeholders. To successfully implement wellbeing measures, companies need to effectively communicate the role and responsibility of everyone involved.
HR professionals can play an important role in championing the cause of employee welfare in an organisation. They have the responsibility to ensure that senior managers consider this a priority. They also need to support them when they engage in honest and difficult conversations with employees. HR professionals also need to encourage line managers to implement better people management and wellbeing policies.
Senior managers, as pivotal role models, need to proactively challenge behaviours that may adversely impact the welfare of employees. Providing consistent and active support can help in implementing such measures with ease. Senior leadership has the authority to ensure that line managers implement wellbeing policies and interventions. .
According to NICE guidance, line managers have an important role in protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of their employees. They act as a two-way communication channel between the employees and the company, thereby playing a crucial role in promoting a positive environment for employee wellbeing.
Of course, employees are the primary guardians of their own health and wellbeing, and they should take some responsibility as well. They can benefit from such organisational initiatives, but only if they actively participate in them.
Fitting wellbeing into the bigger picture…
Investing in wellbeing initiatives needs to be a top priority for companies – to attract, engage, inspire and retain talent. What measures have you incorporated to improve employee wellbeing? How innovative are your company’s wellbeing initiatives?
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