With so many people working remotely and coping with the challenges of the pandemic, employee wellbeing has been brought sharply into focus for many companies – rightly so! You might have already noticed that there is a wide spectrum of approaches to wellness at work. It’s true that perk boxes and yoga sessions are lovely, have their place and are strikingly popular at the moment, but as a self-leader – raising self-leaders at your organisation – you probably already know that these short-term fixes aren’t your first step. Find out how to truly make an impact with employee wellbeing with this blog post.
To develop a well-rounded and meaningful strategy, you need to consider the different components of wellbeing:
When you take this holistic approach to your employees’ wellbeing you will be much more effective at designing strategies that have a genuine impact.
There are swathes of fascinating and varied ‘wellness’ offerings for organisations now; tea meditations, escape rooms and perk programmes – but the most effective wellbeing solutions actually start within your team:
One of the biggest detriments to wellbeing is a high workload. As new work comes in, or staff leave, it can be easy for team leaders to slip more onto their remaining staff’s plate because they’ve deemed that they are “up for a challenge” or “ready to handle it”. In the short term it can be manageable, but over time leads to absenteeism, occupational stress and burnout. When addressing workload, leadership teams must identify how many staff are needed to do the job, staff training needs and what work is the actual priority for staff.
There will always be a percentage of your team who doesn’t want to use restaurant or gym vouchers. If you are going to give gifts to show appreciation, then ensure that your staff actually have the freedom to spend it as they wish; so they can make it meaningful for them. This may mean cash bonuses or vouchers which are more widely accepted. Or, to go even better – consider scrapping ‘one off’ bonuses in favour of a pay rise. After all, financial security is a key component of wellbeing.
Don’t glorify the working lunch. Instead, create a culture where breaks mean breaks! Encourage people to go home on time, get away from their desk at break-times and use communal staff areas to chat (if they want). Another important boundary is to not send work emails outside of working hours. Although it can be tempting to send a quick thought at 8pm and think, “well they don’t have to read it now” chances are they will, and this leads to feeling ‘on call’ all of the time. Save items in your inbox until working hours so that staff feel a separation between their work and their personal time.
Not everyone fits the 9-5 pattern. Some people benefit from an afternoon walk, time in the morning to take children to school, or perhaps their role involves international calls across time zones. Be clear about the work to be done and contractual hours but discuss with your team WHEN they would like to fit those hours into their week. Giving people autonomy over their time can be very empowering.
People feel stressed and frustrated when there are layers of bureaucracy or broken systems preventing them from getting stuff done. Consult with staff about ways of improving communication channels, tech use, reporting systems and other organisational procedures. Making it easier for your team to do their job will reduce workload as well as day to day emotional strain.
Find out what your staff actually want from a wellbeing programme. It’s a waste of time investing in a mindfulness programme if your team tell you “it’s not for me”. Ask them what would bring value to them and try to include everyone in designing a plan.
Companies with good staff retention and wellbeing rates often report that managers act like coaches / mentors to their employees and that CPD opportunities are rich. This is because it feeds into job satisfaction, social relationships and sometimes even psychological wellbeing. Ensure that your team leaders are equipped to support staff on their career paths and that opportunities for challenge, progression and even new projects are available.
Many organisations are already familiar with occupational health services to support employee wellbeing and performance. This is now being taken a step further with programmes such as mental health first aiders, counsellors or access to specialist helplines.
Regularly acknowledge and thank your team members. Gratitude is scientifically proven to boost wellbeing [There’s a blog devoted to the topic of gratitude here, if you’d like to explore this some more] so model a culture where staff appreciate each other. This MAY involve a gift hamper or vouchers, but could also be a thoughtful email, recommendation or small celebration within the team.
Scrolling through LinkedIn it’s not unusual to see a smiling selfie of an employee with a hamper of treats captioned with #wellbeing. Whilst this can be part of a very effective wider programme of employee appreciation, some companies make the unfortunate mistake of stopping there and believing that this is enough to tick the wellbeing box. This can also feel like more of a PR play to your employees; remember that any efforts you make towards employee wellbeing need to come from a genuine place of putting your people first.
Opting for quick fix solutions, without a wider wellbeing strategy can lead to teams feeling undervalued or that their deeper emotional needs are not being catered for. Before you dive into #wellbeing with something like gifting vouchers, hampers, group exercise sessions, socials etc, first run through these essential questions:
Now, you might be thinking that employee wellbeing is a total minefield. Please know that many of the perks you might be considering CAN be a positive addition to staff morale and wellbeing if done well and you already have the foundations of great employee support. But if you don’t have these foundations, you could get sucked into the sticking plaster trap.
The world of workplace wellbeing has grown exponentially in the past couple of years, and it’s completely understandable if you’re feeling lost trying to navigate the many options available to you. Remember, your team are people – just like you – who want to be valued over the long term. And, please know, that help is at hand – you don’t have to figure this all out on your own! The Self Leadership Initiative is here to support you in identifying and addressing your teams’ emotional and psychological needs. You can also get support with developing your impactful wellbeing programme; so you can get back to the task of nurturing your self-leaders. Get in touch today and take genuine action on your employee wellbeing.