In a word; very!!
I have wanted to blog on this topic for a while now but because it is so broad, it is difficult to sum up in one post so I may end up doing some additional snippets afterwards! We all know that a healthy workforce is a productive one but how can employers lead the way to make effective changes so that well-being becomes part of its company values?
These days well-being is much more than just getting a gym membership in your benefits package, whilst that is an incentive for some employees, it really is not a case of one size fits all anymore! You may have seen that recently there has been heightened publicity upon employers to do much more to implement well-being strategies within their businesses. In my opinion, the key thing is to create a culture of well-being and integrate it as part of the company values.
Employers need to equip managers with the correct knowledge, support and tools in order to re-educate employees so they can take accountability of their own well-being. For instance I actively encourage my team to take a 20 minute walk at lunch time, it sounds really simple but by doing such an activity has increased our productivity, releases any office pressures and enables us to bond as a team.
Lucy Wyndham-Read, founder of LWR Fitness emphasises the benefits of taking just 20 minutes to walk every day “lunch time is the best time to invest in your health and by heading out of the office and walking for 10 minutes, turning around and walking back means that you have clocked up 20 minutes of exercise which can burn off around 180 calories. It tones your body, improves your heart health and gives you a super charge of energy for the afternoon, plus you still have 40 minutes left to enjoy your lunch”.
Health and well-being doesn’t just relate to physical health, mental health is also one of HR’s biggest challenges. With a significant increase in absenteeism and work related stress on the rise, what is the best way forward? In short I believe every business is different, so when designing a well-being incentive it really must be fit for purpose by being tailor made for that organisation. Flexible working practices may suit families or those who study outside of work as it allows a work life balance, it is a favourable benefit which is easy to implement but is generally overlooked. Flexibility is in high demand (yes the 9-5 shift is now almost non-existent!) so it is something employers need to be open minded to, some previous companies I have worked in were very sceptical at first but they introduced the idea slowly by opening up their vacancies to parental hours and as a result, it helped the existing employees by allowing them to be more flexible when previously it was more rigid shift patterns with no flexibility. The department became more productive and it was a much happier environment, the business also saw a benefit by increased customer service levels which increased their profit as it strengthened their client relationships.
The changes don’t have to be big, they just need to suit the organisation, and why not engage with the employees to find out what they require within their lives to enjoy their time at work more? You never know, the answer may surprise you! One benefit that really makes an impact is the use of an Employee Assistance Programme. They are relatively inexpensive to businesses and are able to provide impartial services to employees in complete confidence so in all it’s a useful resource to have
There are multiple benefits that such measures will bring to employers when the right well-being package is introduced such as reduced absenteeism. Mental ill health in the UK alone costs over £27 billion a year to business in absence levels. This only highlights the importance for employers to take action and instil wellbeing into their business culture and it should be treated as a priority.
The CIPD created a policy report in January highlighting the key issues that businesses need to tackle in order to progress their workforce into well-being cultures. Inside the report, there is a model which provides the five domains of well-being; health, work, values/principles, collective/social and personal growth. The policy is well worth a read so do and can be found here: http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/policy-reports/health-well-being-agenda.aspx for students studying, this may be useful to you!
Whilst HR should take the first steps on implementing well-being initiatives, it is vital to ensure that line managers at all levels of the business are involved to progress and drive the change, without their input it makes the challenge even greater. They are the people who are able to influence the employees by making it a part of their day to day duties as they bring the policies and processes to life.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post, a huge thanks to Lucy Wyndham-Read (www.lwrfitness.com) for her contribution and as always if you have any suggestions for future posts, comments or questions feel free to get in touch!