How can companies promote wellbeing in the workplace in 2020 and beyond?
Several years ago, the subject of health and wellbeing existed, but it was rarely openly spoken about, particularly not in relation to working environments.
Fast forward to the here and now, the 21st century, where it’s increasingly more on people’s minds and more conversations are being had about how mental health issues are impacting society and people today.
Health and wellbeing apply to everybody, at home and in the workplace. Interestingly, research published by health insurer, Vitality, earlier this year revealed that more than 40% of employees said their work was being affected by health problems.
Meanwhile, in research carried out by mental health charity, Mind, 60% of employees said they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.
Statistics like those listed above highlight just how much of a key issue health and wellbeing has become within the workplace. But as 2019 draws to an end, and we all start to look ahead to what 2020 may bring, how can employers make sure that next year, they show their employees that they’re looking out for their wellbeing?
Fortunately, there are several measures all organisations, large and small, can take.
Rich Westman, founder of Kaido, a workplace wellbeing solution that helps private and public sector organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees and create a more positive and productive place to work, talks us through four of the most important dos and don’ts.
Do create a healthy work-life balance
Unrealistic working hours and workloads that eat into people’s life outside of work can be incredibly detrimental to their overall health and wellbeing. In turn, this can lead to low morale and, in some instances, burnout.
No matter how hard your staff may want to work, it’s important employers make sure they aren’t working unnecessarily long hours (and if they are, then they should look into why this may be the case, e.g. they may need support or are struggling with certain tasks), take a lunch break, use their holiday entitlement and avoid logging on in the evenings and at weekends.
Don’t overlook the importance of two-way communication
It’s incredibly important employees feel listened to as poor communication can be one of the main causes of workplace stress. High workloads and poor explanations and guidance can quickly make staff feel overwhelmed, excluded and unsupported.
Two-way communication is key to making sure this doesn’t happen. Try to make sure communication is clear and that employees feel as though they can approach other team members for clarification or assistance whenever they need to.
Do try to create a culture of openness
Following on from the point above, open communication between all team members is crucial to preventing poor workplace wellbeing. Where possible, encourage managers to regularly check in with employees to see how they’re getting on and discuss any potential stress factors with them.
This can be done on a one-to-one basis, or you could choose to discuss workplace wellbeing and general stress levels openly and collectively at team meetings. The important thing is that people feel supported and able to flag something that may be causing them any particular concern or stress. They should never feel that they can’t say something because they think they won’t be listened to.
Don’t just focus on work
Yes, it’s the primary reason why you’re all in the same workplace every day, but don’t underestimate the value in developing and bringing teams together and continuously investing in them. For instance, by getting everybody involved in activities, such as lunchtime yoga classes, cycle to work schemes, monthly workplace massages or dedicated wellbeing initiatives, such as The West Midlands Workplace Wellbeing Challenge (more on this below).
Providing employees with on-going training and learning opportunities to do their job well can also aid significantly. So too can taking a look at your actual working environment and seeing if there’s anything you can do to make it more of a positive and inspiring place to work. E.g. you may want to make it totally open plan, take down certain blinds to allow more natural light in, create break out zones and more…
Promoting health and wellbeing within the workplace can help prevent stress and create positive working environments that enable individuals and organisations to thrive. If you’re an organisation that’d like to put workplace wellbeing at the top of your 2020 priority list, you can take the first step by signing up to The West Midlands Workplace Wellbeing Challenge, which is being run by Kaido in conjunction with Sport Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.
Earlier this year, Kaido and Sport Birmingham launched the Birmingham Workplace Wellbeing Challenge, with businesses of all types and sizes in the city, including KPMG, HSBC and Prescient Business, taking part. Of all of the employees who took part, 89.5% noticed an improvement in their health, 66% had positive conversations about health and wellbeing at work, and 22% felt less stressed.
For more details and to sign up for the 2020 challenge, visit http://www.kaido.org/community-challenges/west-midlands-feb-2020.