Is Employee Wellbeing the Real Failure of Your Business?


It is becoming clear that there are three key objectives to focus on when running a business:
  1. To do whatever you do and make a profit
  2. To market whatever it is you do, so that you gain and retain clients
  3. To look after your workforce so they perform as well as possible

Wellbeing is a concept that is gaining mainstream exposure. Both government and private enterprise are beginning to take the notion of employee wellbeing much more seriously. Why is this? What are the benefits to business and the economy? And what can individual companies do for their own staff to encourage and develop wellbeing?

When a company focuses on the wellbeing of its staff, it will see a reduction in sickness absence and increased staff retention. As Cecilia Fritz from Sony UK Tec stated:  “To be a high performance organisation with a high performing team we must focus on staff wellbeing.”

Happier staff work more effectively because they are more engaged, they contribute more and they are less likely to leave the company. Vistage Speaker and renowned wellness consulatant, Dorian Dugmore suggests that in today’s economy, when people do seek another job they will look at how well prospective organisations treat their employees. Where money and perks are similar, the deciding factor will be how much they feel the company cares for its employees. It’s been estimated that replacing a single member of staff can cost around £7000 including advertising the role and paying agency commissions, so reducing staff turnover can have a significant financial impact on a business.

Determine Your Wellbeing Strategy

Set targets for the programme so that you can measure the effectiveness over the coming years. What key measures are you interested in? These could include reducing sickness absence overall, or reducing sickness due to “stress” in particular. Involve the staff in the planning and decision making.

A top-down initiative is unlikely to work as well as an initiative where the employees have been involved and engaged from the beginning. Survey the staff, what would they like to have available? What would make their lives happier at work? What do they feel would improve their work/life balance? Would they be interested in sports facilities? Would they use them if they were available? As you’re conducting the survey and talking to individual staff members you will discover those who are very keen to carry the initiatives forward – these people become your champions. They will promote the ideas within their departments and get others involved.

Involve your champions at every stage and they’ll reward you with plenty of good ideas and by creating a buzz on the shop floor. While planning for wellbeing initiatives it’s also important to consider who will be responsible for delivering them.

Do you need a dedicated member of staff whose whole role is staff wellbeing? Or do you need to bring in expertise from outside such as a personal trainer or nutritionist?

Measure Your Results

Measure your results over time, not just in terms of sickness absence and staff turnover being reduced but also in terms of employee wellbeing. Do employees enjoy coming to work? Do they feel they have a good work/life balance? Would they recommend your company to their friends as a great place to work? Running wellbeing surveys at intervals to gain this sort of feedback will give you a measure of how effective the wellbeing programme is.

How you introduce the programme is key. Participation must be voluntary and no-one should be made to feel second-best or “wrong” for not wishing to partake.

Incentives might help increase participation but be very aware of not causing any sector of your workforce to feel victimised because they are not yet ready to take action to improve their wellbeing.

In addition to staff buy-in, you will also need the support of your senior management team. They need to be convinced that a happy, healthy workforce is a more productive workforce and ultimately, better for the bottom line! 

Start a Wellbeing Programme in Your Company

Your company size, location, and the kind of work you do, will determine what wellbeing interventions and initiatives you can introduce. Talk to your own people about what they’d like and what they feel would help their work-life balance.What you choose to offer will depend on the feedback and input you get, the size of the organisation and the budget you have to invest.

However large or small your business, whether your employees are office based or factory based, on the road a lot or jetting off internationally, there is always something you can do to encourage greater health and wellbeing for your staff.

The important thing is to get started. Start small, measure often, and refine along the way.

More from Vistage:

VQ7 Wellbeing


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