Since the pandemic, there has been a shift in focus for employers in building the ideal workplace for their employees. While much of the discussion has focused on creating a hybrid workplace wherein employees can choose to work in the office, at home, or remotely based on their needs and preferences, employee wellbeing is much more than that. Find out how you can protect the wellbeing of your employees and embed it into your company culture.
What is Employee Wellbeing?
According to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of workers in the US suffer from workplace-related stress. Up to 25% of employees say that their job is the primary source of stress in their lives. During the pandemic, the issues of stress at work did not cease even when many people are working from home. Burnout became an even bigger issue, according to reports from the American Psychology Association. Due to the negative impacts of burnout and stress on employee performance and productivity, employers are forced to shift their mindset on how to increase employee engagement and productivity.
The future of work is now focused on wellbeing in the workplace. The concept of wellbeing is not just physical, though. It has also expanded into other aspects of employee life such as mental health, a sense of community, defining their purpose, and social life. The employer has a crucial role to play in this because it starts with a change in company culture.
Leaders within an organisation must prioritise wellbeing. But how exactly can you do this?
1. Physical well-being is a huge component of that. With more employees working from home or remotely, it is easy to blur the line between life and work. Employers need to promote physical wellness and make it the core of your routine. For example, keep your meetings short and infrequent; avoid speaking to employees beyond working hours, and promote wellness programs to nurture their physical and mental health.
2. Career health is also crucial in promoting employee wellbeing. A rapid talent migration comes as a result of employees’ desire to work remotely (or have access to a hybrid workplace), a good compensation plan, and training resources for more skills development. Give your employees a sense of fulfillment in their careers instead of looking at it as a means for them to provide for their families.
3. Financial wellbeing is one aspect of wellbeing in the workplace that does not get a lot of attention. Aside from health and career, finance issues are one of the major sources of stress for employees. You have to devise solutions that would provide your employees with financial assistance for unexpected expenses, which can happen more often than you think.
4. Social wellbeing is another crucial component to keeping your employees happy and satisfied. Make sure to encourage team-building activities and social interactions among employees as much as you can. This approach will combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation that can happen when working from home. Or provide agile working solutions to encourage employees to meet up at a common workplace or socialise from time to time.
5. Finally, there is emotional wellbeing that is vital in shaping an employee's overall wellbeing. Stress is directly linked to an individual’s emotional and mental wellbeing. Make sure to transform your leadership approach to promote inclusivity and to deliver programs that enable each member of your team to tackle their emotional and mental health issues without fear of being discriminated against.
Simply put, employee wellbeing is when you have employees that are happier, healthier, and more productive to generate positive impact in the workplace.
What Companies Can Do to Improve Their Employees’ Wellbeing
As mentioned above, employees play a vital role in making wellbeing the focus of work in the future. Here are some recommendations on how you can promote wellbeing in the workplace:
• Conduct regular health screening. Physical wellness is the core of employee wellbeing. Make healthcare accessible to your employees and give them the assurance that you can provide support for their health and wellbeing.
• Give them control over how they work. Some employees are more productive in the office, while others are more productive at home. Some would like a mix of both (hybrid). Pay attention to what your employees want and give them the flexibility to choose.
• Provide them with health insurance. Buying a policy for your employees is a concrete way of showing your commitment to supporting their wellbeing.
• Give recognition and rewards to your employees. Making praise and recognition a part of your company culture is going to increase your employee engagement and make them more motivated. It’s also beneficial for their mental health and wellbeing.
• Conduct an employee wellbeing survey. The survey will provide you with crucial insights into how you can improve your current policies and if other issues must be addressed.
• Be flexible on employees’ work schedule when they need the time off to take care their family, as well as personal interest.
• Keep your organisation adequately staffed. Make sure that you have enough people to do the job so you’re not spreading your employees too thin or burning them out with too much workload.
• Support physical wellness with wellness programs. This can be a virtual event or a monthly activity that your employees can participate in. Focus on various fitness programs to make it engaging and to infuse variety.
The Future of Employee Wellbeing
Employers have an important role to play in the future of work. The root of this change in overall strategy is employee empowerment and flexibility. Organisations must react with agility and a sense of purpose. This approach will make the most impact on employees' overall wellness and for the company to foster the employee experience.
As employers, you must show trust for your employees. Trust them that they will give their best if you support their physical, mental, social, and emotional needs. At the same time, empowering them gives them a greater sense of purpose because it is aligned with their personal goals. The two parties (employers and employees) get to benefit from this new work approach.
Employee Wellbeing and Agile Working
An agile work strategy is one of the solutions to promoting workplace wellness. Flexibility is one of the ways that you give employees control over how, where, and when they work. This flexibility refers not just to the schedule but also the actual work environment.
When there is flexibility, there are fewer constraints. Indeed, gone are the days of a traditional workplace setup wherein employees must report to work at a specific schedule and location. You can optimise their work performance by letting them choose the right work environment that fosters their productivity.
Agile workspaces that can be scaled up or downsized to fit your employees needs can give the flexibility that your employees need. They can come into flexible office space when doing collaborative work, or opt to work from home when they want to focus on individual projects. Working agile can motivate and empower your employees because they are more satisfied and happier.
Of course, promoting employee wellbeing does not end in providing flexible work arrangements and spaces. You can also reinforce it with initiatives and policies such as wellness programs and healthcare assistance. It’s also good to encourage your employees to be each other’s supporters in promoting mental health so they won’t feel as isolated even when working remotely.