Smart Recruit Online returned to once again sponsor Business Live’s Employee Health & Wellbeing event last month. Some common themes appeared for employee wellbeing initiatives going into 2021, from ways to improve mental health and welfare to workplace productivity, all thought to contribute to overall wellbeing.
1. Flexible working
Flexible working is no new concept, with many workplaces offering it as an employee benefit even before the pandemic through working from home or working hours to suit employee lifestyle. Many businesses had little choice on whether to adopt this working style in 2020 and 2021, and studies have shown employees are keen for it to continue, with remote workers more likely to report being satisfied with their jobs. A PwC survey has revealed many companies mirror this mindset, reporting that 78% of CEOs agree remote collaboration is here for the long term. Whether your business continues with this working style is of course dependent on your industry and how your business has fared during the pandemic.
2. Manage the return to the office
With the return to the office imminent, your employees may be feeling anxious about re-entering a workplace environment. How your business manages the return to work is crucial, as immediately returning to ‘normality’ after a year of working at home will be challenging. Flexible working looks to be the solution to this, but if flexible working is not suited to your business long-term, easing employees into work with an initial 2-3 days in the office a week, later increased to the standard 5 could be an appropriate alternative.
3. Have more fun
While our speakers did not suggest spending the whole working day slacking off, setting time aside to do a fun team activity can help boost employee mood. Research by the University of Oxford found that happy employees are actually 13% more productive than their dissatisfied counterparts, and increasing opportunities to bond and build relationships among your team is a great way to support employee happiness. A simple 5-minute huddle at the start or end of each working day is an effective way to do this, with a different chair chosen for each huddle to put together a short team task to do (there are plenty available online to get inspiration from).
4. Focus on strengths
When you are constantly looking to build and improve your business, it can become habitual to focus on the weaknesses in your team. Of course, it is good to focus on areas for improvement, but our speakers suggest making sure you also focus on your team strengths, and leverage these strengths. Using what Daryl Woodhouse refers to as ‘The Strengthener Trio’, you should identify each person’s strengths on your team, use these strengths more often, and discuss ways they can get even better at them. This not only benefits your business but also recognises your employees’ value in the organisation, which studies have shown to contribute to a 10 – 20% difference in productivity.
5. Promote equality of opportunity
Many businesses may believe that equality in the workplace means treating everyone the same, but Chief Executive of Equality Council UK, Navrita Atwal, argues you should instead promote equality of opportunity. This means making changes according to your individual workers’ needs, whether that is providing enough space for wheelchairs, a larger computer screen for someone hard of sight, or allowing more time on reports for those with dyslexia. Making changes like this that promote equal opportunity ultimately creates a more positive workplace for your employees, and contributes to overall wellbeing.
6. Implement zero–tolerance policies
Any allowance for workplace bullying and harassment is obviously a big issue if it is taking place in your business. Ensuring that you maintain a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of behaviour is an important part of keeping your employees happy, and wellbeing high.
7. Offer support groups
If you are a larger business, having various support groups available for those that need them is a positive contributor to employee wellness. These groups can range from those specifically for LGBTQ staff, to mental health aid. If you are a smaller business with perhaps fewer resources available for this, ensuring that your employees know exactly who to go to with any issues they may be having is vital.
8. Corporate retreats and workshops
Corporate burnout is becoming a more prominent issue in today’s working society, so much so that it has even been officially recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon. Businesses are looking for ways to support their employees’ health and wellbeing on a long-term basis, and corporate retreats and workshops designed to do just that are increasing in popularity. These retreats and workshops often aim to give your employees the tools to manage their own mental health and wellbeing, and are also a great way to reward your staff for their hard work.
9. Encourage learning and development
Research has found that a key contributor to positive wellbeing in the workplace is working in a way that challenges you. This means allowing space for your employees to consistently learn and develop their skills, with one of our speakers, Jon Manning, identifying this as one of the 5 daily behaviours you should dedicate time and energy to for positive mental health. A good way to encourage this could be an afternoon every week dedicated to employee self-development, or group meetings to solve challenges within the business as a team.
10. Encourage exercise and movement
Exercise or general physical movement was a topic brought up by multiple speakers at the event as an employee wellbeing initiative. The benefits of exercise for mental health are long documented, with the NHS recommending regular exercise can boost your mood, and other studies showing it contributes to increased self-esteem and reduced stress and anxiety. Businesses were encouraged to address employee physical health in a more hands-on manner; this could be done through corporate gym membership schemes, company running clubs, or even just taking 5 minutes out of the working day for a brisk walk.
11. Encourage a work-life balance
Another topic which was frequently mentioned was ensuring your employees have a right work-life balance. A good work-life balance ultimately leads to increased productivity, happier employees, and better staff retention. A bad work-life balance can lead to burnout and chronic stress, which can then impact your business’ performance. Ways you can do this is ensuring your employees are taking their breaks, and if they are frequently working overtime, try and identify why this is. Are there areas of your business that could be better optimised? Productivity apps like Trello and Asana are useful to identify where your employees are spending their time, and whether a process can be put in place to improve this.
12. Be proactive
While many of the employee wellbeing initiatives addressed here are great ways to tackle any issues, it is important to be proactive in your business’ approach to employee wellbeing. Do not wait for your employees to reach burnout before any measures are put in place, but instead take these initiatives and apply them now.
13. Be human
A final takeaway from the event is simply to be human in your approach to employee wellbeing. Although it is best to be proactive with these initiatives, understand that some of your employees may still be struggling with their wellbeing, and try and help ease this with a solution.
After a year of uncertainty and changes surrounding the way the workplace operates, these employee wellbeing initiatives from Business Live’s Health & Wellbeing Event aim to support both your business and employees in 2021. You can watch the full recording of the event Here (passcode: F*1ZXkY#).
If you’re still looking for more ways to improve wellbeing within your business, you can also download our webinar on how to create an intentional culture of wellbeing.