It’s been amazing to see workplace wellbeing come into the spotlight over the past couple of years. However, many organisations still have a long way to go.
Most companies take a tokenistic approach to wellbeing, organising once-off initiatives such as company-wide “wellness days”. While initiatives like these can be a great complement to a broader approach, they alone aren’t enough.
Truth is, employee wellbeing needs to be so much more than a box-ticking exercise. Blindly approaching wellbeing by throwing ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks doesn’t take into consideration the needs of your workforce.
The reason once-off initiatives don’t work is because they don’t change much of what goes on every other day. Smaller, more meaningful changes are the best way to support the wellbeing of your employees. To make a real impact on your organisational culture, these initiatives should be tied together with an informed wellbeing strategy.
Here are six ways you can make a real difference to the wellbeing of your workforce:
1. Create a culture of inclusion
Go the extra mile to create a culture where all employees feel safe and comfortable. On a broader level, simply creating space for employees to connect with their colleagues and their supervisors can make them feel more comfortable to be themselves at work and to speak up if they need help.
These shifts in culture start at the top, so you’ll need to lead by example. Connect with your employees on a personal level and be transparent with them. If you’re real with them, it’s likely they’ll be real with you.
Treat all employees with the same levels of respect. Give them ample opportunity to voice their feedback and feelings. Make sure that you actively listen to their concerns and take their feedback on board. Lastly, provide a supportive environment, where bullying and discrimination aren’t tolerated.
2. Offer flexibility and promote work life balance
Proactively offer flexibility. Accommodating the needs of your employees doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your standards. Most often, it improves employee engagement and increases productivity.
Allow for flexible working arrangements. This could mean flexible hours, working remotely, flexibility with paid and unpaid leave, and more. Be open to identifying adjustments that will work for both the employee and the business.
This is where the whole concept of a ‘wellness day’ should be given a reboot. One mental health day a year won’t solve everyone’s problems. Allow people to take mental health days as sick days when they need them. People often take mental health days anyway but hide them by saying that they have a migraine or gastro.
Create a culture where it’s OK for people to take a day off when they really need it and be open about why. It creates a culture of trust, safety, and overall better health and wellbeing.
On top of this, it’s also important to promote a healthy work-life balance through flexible working policies, encouraging staff to take regular breaks and limiting email hours. Much like many of the other tips here, this starts from the top down, and people in management positions should be following these policies as well (i.e., don’t email your employees about work at 9pm).
3. Increase awareness of mental health
Actively work to increase awareness of mental health within your organisation. You can do this by participating in events like World Mental Health Day and RUOK? Day, talking openly about mental health, and conducting mental health awareness programs.
It’s important to work on destigmatising mental illness, and provide a space where employees feel safe to open up. When people don’t fear stigma or discrimination, they’re more likely to ask for help when they need it.
4. Show your employees that you appreciate them
Employee retention has been in the spotlight more than ever over the past year due to the emergence of the Great Resignation, as millions of people are starting to voluntarily leave their jobs. This has highlighted the importance of creating sustainable practices that build a better workplace culture that, in turn, improve retention rates.
One of the simplest ways to increase employee retention in your workplace is by showing your employees that you appreciate them. According to a study from GlassDoor, more than half (53%) of employees stated that they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss. On top of this, four in five (81%) employees reported that they’re motivated to work harder when their employer shows appreciation for their work.
It’s an innate human desire to want to belong and feel valued. Recognition plays a critical role in this and goes well beyond than the usual paycheck.
Employee appreciation doesn’t need to be over-complicated or overly expensive; it just comes down to small gestures of appreciation done regularly. This can be as simple as just saying “thank you” or “great job on that project”, taking a staff member out for coffee, or giving a shout-out in a team meeting. Regularly showing recognition helps to create a culture of appreciation and trust in your organisation.
5. Evaluate your job design
The shifts in working conditions over the past two years have led many employees to re-evaluate their work-life balance, and many people have decided to leave their jobs to find an employer that gives them more flexibility. There are a lot of businesses that claim to be committed to improving the wellbeing of their employees, yet still expect their staff to be working 12-hour days or responding to work emails late at night.
In order to retain staff, while also making their wellbeing a priority, you might need to re-evaluate your job design. If the role requires people to be working unsustainable hours or creates stress inherently, re-visit the actual job scope. Minor shifts – such as not expecting people to respond to emails instantly or not open their computers on the weekend – can make a big difference.
6. Implement a wellbeing strategy
Employee wellbeing needs to be more than just a few randomly selected wellbeing initiatives scattered here and there. Wellbeing is more than just a tokenistic ‘recharge day’, you should be promoting wellbeing every day of the year.
To really put the wellbeing of your employees at the forefront of your organisational culture, you need to have an informed strategy. A strategy takes an integrated approach that supports the wellbeing of your employees day-to-day, year-round, and is imbedded in all of your business decisions.
There are many wellbeing initiatives that you can implement to improve the wellbeing of your staff, these can include physical health programs or challenges, mental wellbeing resources, mindfulness practices, personal development opportunities, and more. What ties all of these initiatives together is a strategy.
You could develop this internally, or you could get somebody else to do the heavy lifting for you. At Springday, we work with you to measure the wellbeing of your workforce, assess your organisational wellbeing needs and develop a wellbeing strategy tailored to your people.
On top of this, we can help your organisation to understand and improve employee wellbeing through a data-driven, custom digital platform that features expert-curated content. We deliver validated engagement solutions that create a thriving workforce and a visible culture of care.
Help your employees manage stress, find better work-life balance, and boost their overall wellbeing with a comprehensive digital wellbeing platform by Springday. Learn more about our solutions or chat to us about how we can help you.