Influencing employee health and workplace wellness
Workplace wellness is a bit of a hot topic and it’s not hard to see why. All around the UK we’re seeing a rise in the levels of stress, burnout and general unhappiness in the workforce. For example, over the last few years over 55% employees  have seen an increase in the number of stress or mental-health related illnesses in their workforce, rising costs as employers try to manage employees on long term sickness or worse, leaving employment altogether.
Do you think you should be responsible for influencing employee health and changing behaviour? After all, your employees will be spending more time with you at work than they will with their family during their lifetime. So yes, we think it is your job and in your best interests to make sure they are happy, healthy and productive during their employment with you.
We have seen many businesses introducing dedicated workplace wellness schemes which are designed to provide employees with a range of benefits, support systems and resources to improve overall happiness, health and workplace wellness. For some businesses, this only goes as far as putting a bowl of fruit in the breakroom and doing ‘casual Fridays’ in the office. In reality, workplace wellness is much more about making employee health and wellbeing a priority for your business.
Work on your company culture
In 2018, Virgin carried out their fourth annual State of the Industry survey ; where 1,000 HR leaders were asked to give their views and opinions on influencing employee health and changing behaviour. The results are telling. According to this survey, workplace culture is the biggest roadblock out there for improving employee wellbeing and engagement. The study argues that one of the reasons for this is that businesses who focus on wellness initiatives often don’t think about whether they complement their workplace culture, or if their company culture encourages employees to participate in wellness activities. For example, companies who have a ‘do this, don’t do that’ type of mentality often see poor results from employee wellness programmes
An unsupportive corporate culture is one that doesn’t value and encourage their employees to be the best they can be. Companies with a positive culture have the opposite effect – with employees actively invested in wellness activities and more engaged in their day-to-day jobs.
If you’ve been struggling to generate interest in employee wellness programmes, it might be time to look inwards at your own company culture.
Balance your perks
A big part of ensuring your workforce is happy, healthy and engaged at work is giving them a set of perks to facilitate that. These will be different for each business, and can even vary from person to person. A few of the things we’ve noticed can really help improve workplace wellness include:
- Free healthy meals at work
- Flexible working hours
- Subsidised gym memberships
- Mental health support services
- Posture analysis, supported by the right office equipment and even in-house spinal care
- Anonymous reporting (with actions on those reports where appropriate)
- Financial education and support
- Creating greener office spaces
- In-office health checks
- Independent learning and development opportunities
- Childcare vouchers
The list goes on. In fact, the NHS  has its own list of suggestions for supporting employee health and workplace wellness, it includes options like including employees in decision making, managing stress and promoting effective managers.
If you’re unsure what your employees would value from a benefits package – ask them! With tools like pulse surveys you can gain real time insights into your employee’s thoughts, and measure any change in perspectives over time.
By providing your employees with a range of options, they can choose what will benefit them the most. Resulting in a happier, highly engaged and more productive workforce.
Understand and address real workplace issues
Remember, workplace wellness is not just about providing free fruit in the break room. It’s about understanding the real issues your employees are facing every day, and taking the necessary steps to address them. Burnout, bullying or a difficult manager – these are the issues that really matter.
In conclusion: By proving that your business is willing to have open, honest discussions and listen and act on concerns raised, you will find yourself with a happier, healthier workforce who understand and trust that you have their wellbeing at heart.