6274f3d395367e4801133946 Ultimate Guide To Employee Wellbeing

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Wellbeing

8 min read
Zoe Brankin
Author
Zoe Brankin

Mental health in the workplace is still somewhat of a taboo subject, but there are small, simple steps you can take to look after employees’ mental health. According to Mind’s research, there is still a culture of fear and silence around mental health, which is costly for employers.

As employees spend over a third of their week at work, it’s essential to look after their wellbeing during that time, as work will significantly impact their overall mental health. Whether you’re starting on your journey or already have a well-established strategy for mental health in place, you may be wondering what the best wellbeing initiatives to implement are. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. What you as an employer choose to implement will depend on your workforce, industry, and company culture. Understanding what your people want will be crucial to the success of any wellbeing initiatives you decide to implement. 

What is employee wellbeing?

Employee wellbeing refers to an individual’s overall mental, emotional, physical, and economic health and will be influenced by many factors. Wellbeing could be impacted by decisions made during a working day, the relationship between managers and employees, and the tools available to do the job effectively. Job safety, hours and pay can also significantly impact an employee’s wellbeing. 

It will vary from person to person, and may be affected by external factors such as stress around health, family, cost of living and more. Consequently, employee wellbeing significantly impacts retention, engagement, and business success. While you can’t control those external factors, a good employer will take responsibility for what you can do to help your employees while they’re at work.

Why is employee wellbeing important?

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide employees with physical and mental health support, yet many organisations fail to have a dedicated strategy. When employees are happy and healthy at work, they will take fewer sick days. In 2019/20, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. Happy employees are also more productive; a study found that 41% of employees said stress negatively affects their productivity.

Creating a workplace environment that your people love will protect employee wellbeing and strengthen the company culture. When people are positive and motivated, they will influence their peers. Employee wellbeing is a fundamental building block of every organisation regardless of size!

Workplace wellbeing benefits

Get your employees involved if you’re ready to start exploring workplace wellbeing ideas. With some brainstorming, creativity and potentially an engagement platform such as Mo, you and your team could develop great ideas to improve wellbeing that suit remote and office workers. Of course one of the most significant gains you will get from implementing these initiatives is a healthier workplace, but it will also bring: 

  • Increased productivity – Employees who feel valued and listened to are more likely to be engaged, work together and perform to their full potential. ‍
  • Lower employee turnover –  A workplace culture that fosters loyalty and high morale is more likely to keep its employees. ‍
  • Reduced absenteeism due to stress – When employees feel their wellbeing needs are being met, they are less likely to take sick days. ‍
  • Resilient workforce – Building a resilient workforce will better help your employees cope with work-related stress.‍
  • Enhanced reputation – If you’re investing in the wellbeing of your employees, it sends a powerful message about your company culture and values, which will help you attract high-quality talent. 

Seven workplace wellbeing initiatives

If you’re struggling to allocate a budget to workplace wellbeing, don’t worry, as many wellbeing initiatives can be free or low-cost. It’s also very easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking of ideas. Here are seven workplace well-being initiatives you can implement as part of your well-being strategy to give you a head start. 

Make lunch breaks mandatory

It can be challenging to step away from your desk for an hour to get lunch when you’re in the zone, especially when the work is piling up and your emails haven’t stopped. We’ve all been there!  

Only one in three people step away from their desks to take lunch. Many will skip it altogether or eat at their desk while working. Not taking a break will affect productivity and mental and physical wellbeing. While your employees may feel more productive working through their lunch break, over time this can contribute to burnout, and work performance can start to suffer. 

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Start your wellbeing initiatives off by making lunch breaks mandatory for all employees. Encourage them to block out time in their calendars so they can plan their day around their lunch break to avoid conflict. 

Here at Mo, we use Slack and have added a lunch status for our employees to use when they decide to take their break to let the team know they’re going to be unavailable. Leaders and managers need to lead by example, and if they take a dedicated lunch break every day, others will follow their lead.

Mental health resources

1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression) in any given week in England. Introducing mental health initiatives in the workplace has never been more critical, and it is an excellent step towards enhancing overall wellbeing and absenteeism at the same time. 

You want your employees to feel comfortable talking about mental health if you’re a manager. But mental health is still a taboo subject, and many employees may not feel comfortable talking about it in a professional environment. Mind offers a free guide to their Wellness Action Plans to help you start the conversation about mental health for office, hybrid, and remote workers. 

Mental health first aid training is also becoming increasingly popular in workplaces. Typical training teaches individuals how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. This training helps identify, understand and respond to the signs of addictions and mental illnesses. 

Flexible working 

Flexible working can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. It’s an excellent initiative if you’re hoping to promote a better work-life balance that keeps employees happy and lowers their stress levels. 

It doesn’t have to be just remote working – you can develop a policy that will best suit the needs of your business. Here are some ideas: 

  • Four-day work week – Everyone’s talking about a four-day work week, and it’s a relatively new concept. However, some companies have already started trialling it and noticed increased productivity, better employee engagement and improved retention.‍
  • Hybrid working – Many businesses have opted for the hybrid approach to help employees transition back into the office, while others have adopted this approach permanently.‍
  • Flexible working hours – Giving employees the flexibility to choose when they work allows them to decide when they would be most productive. Many may prefer an early start and early finish, while those sitting up late at night will appreciate a later start time. A studyfound that over 39% of people who work flexibly see a noticeable improvement in their mental health, and 43% of people who don’t have the option to work flexibly feel it would enable them to better manage their mental health. At Mo, we offer flextime with core hours of 10-4, allowing employees to decide when they work their 3 remaining hours. ‍
  • Compressed hours – Employees working compressed hours will work their total contracted hours over fewer working days, so for example instead of working Monday to Friday, they may choose to work a 10 hour day Monday to Thursday and take a three day weekend. 

Gym memberships

It’s not uncommon for a company to offer a free gym membership or subsidise a gym membership as part of a wellbeing program. Gyms can be expensive, but exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve mental health, so offering this can help staff become more active during their lunch break, morning, evening or weekend. At Mo, we are a remote-first company and are happy to subsidise the gym membership of our team to help improve mental health.

Regular team building

Organising regular team activities is a great initiative for employee wellbeing. While some employees may find them cheesy, they are a great way to build relationships amongst employees outside of work, reduce stress, and increase collaboration amongst teams. 

The sky is really the limit, but the best bet is to get input from your team! Some of our ideas would be after-work dinner and drinks once a month, virtual drinks for the remote workers, game nights in the office, art or cooking competitions, team hikes, and day trips to theme parks.

At Mo, we did a virtual Easter egg making class, which resulted in a great deal of hilarity, and some rather homely looking (but delicious) chocolate treats.

Personal and professional development  

Personal growth is a crucial aspect of employee wellbeing, according to CIPD. Allowing your employees to grow their skills through workplace training will give them a greater sense of purpose, make them feel valued, and show you are committed to their development. It can also remove the dreaded knowledge gap amongst teams and increase engagement. By making this a workplace wellness initiative, you can decide whether or not you solely want to focus on professional development or mix personal development as well! 

Start an employee recognition program 

We all can admit we want to hear that we have done a good job every so often, but workplace feedback is sometimes limited to the negative in some organisations. Rather than focusing on the negatives and what your teams could do better, why not take a more practical approach to promote employee wellbeing and focus on the positives. Take the time to recognise your employees for a job well done! 

Employee recognition can come in many forms, such as celebrating work milestones, birthdays, and shout-outs for a job well done. This can be shared in a company meeting, on your company messaging platform, over social media, or through a dedicated employee recognition platform. Find what works best for your organisation and stick to it. If a recognition program is going to work, it must be immediate, specific and regular.

Transform Your Culture 1

Mo is an employee engagement platform that can help leaders improve collaboration and morale, reduce employee churn and drive change. 

Our platform creates a vibrant culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate success, recognise results and appreciate colleagues.

Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work. Book a demo with our team today!

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