Work-life balance is a concept that took off since the advent of knowledge work. Knowledge workers are required to work on tasks that combine both creativity and grunt, which can often lead to exhaustion and burnout unless a balance is maintained. Much of this balance hinges on productivity and stress levels at work, where professionals spend the majority of their waking hours. This puts the spotlight on workplace wellbeing since it directly impacts employees’ morale and work-life balance.
Workplace wellbeing is one of the top priorities for senior management and teams across companies. 75% of leaders participating in a CIPD report 2021 have stated employee wellbeing at the workplace being one of their top priorities, up from 61% in 2020.
This rise in priority can be attributed to the pandemic in 2020, where companies were limited to working remotely, with little oversight on employee wellness. The same CIPD report mentions how staff wellness activities took a hit and have resulted in a decline in employees’ mental health.
So what is employee wellbeing, and how does it impact your organization?
Let’s explore these topics in better detail.
What Is Employee Wellbeing?
Employee wellbeing can be defined as the combination of factors that affect employees’ quality of work, morale, team dynamics, responsibilities, and corresponding results. Wellbeing is a state of balance, where your employees are provided with an environment to optimize their sense of wellness and impact on the organization.
The most successful corporations and entrepreneurs are consistently regarded well by their employees, due to their focus on employee wellbeing and benefits. Platforms like Glassdoor are a testament to the growing importance of quality of work and benefits for employees. Lack of wellbeing measures and increase in stress among employees results in increased medical spending, voluntary turnover, and a decrease in productivity and outcomes.
So let’s have a look at ways organizations can promote staff wellbeing.
The Best Ways To Promote Staff Wellbeing At Your Organization
The first thing that you need to do to promote staff wellbeing is ‘be in their shoes’. Empathy is crucial when it comes to addressing employee’s needs, so you can take the right steps towards their wellbeing.
Remember every employee is an individual with their own challenges in their professional and personal lives. Following are the measures that can help counter such challenges and promote wellbeing among your employees.
1. Promote Mental Health Awareness
Organizations are waking up to the importance of workplace wellbeing because employees are holding them accountable to acknowledge the role they play. The emphasis on mental health and wellbeing increased during the pandemic. However, it wasn’t the cause of it, but a catalyst.
A Zapier report found that 91% of Gen Zs and 85% of Millennials said they believe their employers should have a policy for mental health at work. Additionally, according to a Wellable report, mental health has been at the top of the list in 2021.
Employers should consider giving free sessions with qualified therapists or perhaps a 24/7 helpline to help identify and recover from mental health issues. Besides, employees should be given sufficient space to talk about their problems with their respective leaders or colleagues.
One example is Starbucks. The coffee giant started a training program for its employees named ‘Starbucks Mental Health Fundamentals’. The program offered 20 sessions by mental health therapist/coach Lyra Health a year to its US employees and their eligible family members.
Additionally, Starbucks also introduced Headspace, which is an app designed for mindfulness meditation.
2. Promote Personalized Wellness
Personal wellness has quickly become one of the core parts of employee wellbeing. With the rise of social media and the associated increases in anxiety and stress, personal wellbeing has been on a decline. As a result, a sudden rise has been noticed in self-care subscriptions and on-demand fitness classes to help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
For personalized wellness, you can also consider workplace and personal wellness apps, like Elevate, power nap, and Calm. These mobile apps are designed to give you a sense of relief during your day-to-day schedule. They help you get timely sleep, overcoming daily work-related or personal anxiety which contributes significantly towards personal wellness. And providing your employees with these tools goes a long way in helping them take care of their overall mental health and wellbeing.
3. Ease Workplace Stress
According to a survey by Udemy 2/3rds of employees in the US alone have accepted facing stress at work. With the pandemic, stress levels have reached new heights. Therefore, it has become crucial for employers to ensure their workforce remains stress-free (within reason).
A proper employee wellness program helps employees to reduce stress by 72%. Some perks companies offer as part of such programs include stress management training, meditation platforms, resilience training, email based help desk, and mandatory leaves. Additionally, you should consider organizing internal sessions, as an open discussion around mental health and wellbeing at work.
Examples of discussions could be how an employee has gone through a negative experience and shared used what they learned in the process to help someone else. Or it can be something personal that addresses a challenge and how the individual surpassed it. Such discussions can help employees learn and relate with their team, apart from helping manage their stress and anxiety better.
You can also implement policies designed to help employees manage their stress and not feel like they have to always be on the edge.
4. Expanded Employee Assistance
There will be times the tools and programs meant for wellbeing won’t be enough. Your co-workers might better respond to casual chats and other spontaneous activities. Give your employees the space to share their thoughts and concerns with you. This will equip your team members to communicate with you more openly. As a result, you’ll be able to address more issues that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
An open-door policy is a good example of this. Employees are encouraged to connect with higher management when needed. It’s noticed that by offering this space, organizations have not just enhanced the emotional wellbeing of their employees, but also boosted their productivity significantly.
5. Highlight Achievements And Reward Staff
An increasing number of companies have started rewarding their teams in addition to their existing perks and benefits, in the form of rewards and achievements. On a recurring basis, companies recognize their employees and highlight the achievements made by them to acknowledge their efforts. This motivates the employee to be rewarded as well as the rest of the team.
With such initiatives in place, you’re setting up an environment for impact-oriented work, and promoting healthy competition among the team members. This will also eventually open the door for team discussions and growth. It helps build strong teams where your employees are generating results and deriving more meaning out of their work.
6. Encourage — Meditation And Exercise
The pandemic in 2020 has brought about more awareness around personal wellbeing and fitness. When we talk about fitness, the focus should be on both, mental and physical. While physical being tangible is often noticed, mental health takes a backseat and often goes unaddressed. However, the need is to create a balance between the two. This is where a balanced mix of meditation and exercise comes into the picture.
Besides the individual efforts, companies have also started to integrate physical activities into their work routines. It’s common among both startups and big corporations to organize regular team sessions for yoga. Also, companies may offer reimbursement on gym fees, which may range from 50% to 100%. Policies like this can promote meditation and exercise among your employees.
7. Build A Culture Of Empathy And Compassion
Values like empathy and compassion are part of human nature, and cannot be left out at the workplace. Though the workspace is supposed to have a professional work culture, keeping it confined to organizational accomplishments isn’t ideal for employees' wellbeing. Lack of empathy in the workplace can make the work environment seem overly tense and harsh. This may eventually make it difficult for leaders to guide teams.
Understanding employees’ concerns, and showing empathy and compassion can help you earn their loyalty, which will also influence their performance. They would have been working for the company with just the monthly incentives in mind, but a little empathy and kindness can help win their loyalty towards larger organizational wellness goals.
8. Encourage Time Off
All work and no breaks may boost your company’s productivity for a while, but it wouldn’t be very sustainable. You are working with humans and not machines. Organizations that understand the importance of work/life balance encourage their employees to set healthy boundaries while working from home or in the office. They don’t want them to burn out.
On the other hand, organizations that promote hustle and grind (meaning “work until you burnout”) might not notice any issues at first. If the same working pace is maintained over the longer term, employees will begin to burn out. And with that, it’ll negatively impact their focus and attention, which will inevitably decrease their productivity and wellbeing.
This is why it becomes your responsibility to encourage your employees to take time off.
Ready To Promote Wellbeing In The Workplace?
Ensuring employee wellbeing at its core is all about building a balanced workplace and a working environment that helps employees thrive. And throughout this article, we’ve listed all the ways in which you can promote staff wellbeing. Some organizations simply fail to acknowledge this basic necessity and eventually end up having an exhausted team with no energy to perform.
Remember, the key to growth is working as a team while being with the team. Your employees seek a leader in you, not a boss.
Author Bio: Mehdi Hussen is the Head of Marketing at ZoomShift, an employee scheduling software. He is passionate about driving organic growth and customer acquisition for startups through data-driven content marketing. He spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, personal productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.