Increasingly employees are waking up to the necessity for promoting and creating a wellbeing culture at work. Research from Nuffield Health has shown:

  • Sick absence costs the UK economy over £100 billion a year
  • Presenteeism costs £15 billion a year
  • 87% of HR and Finance Directors report wellbeing is being discussed at board level, with some 41% confirming wellbeing is a strategic priority.

With such high stakes, it's imperative for your business to turn your attention to wellbeing and decide what needs to be done to get better results.  

What is wellbeing at work?

There are two main elements to be considered when identifying wellbeing at work. 

  1. To support individual wellbeing be aware of the 3 domains which can be         affected by ill-health:
  • Physical health, biggest culprits include muscular and skeletal, heart disease and cancer, as well as colds and flu.
  • Mental health, stress is easily one of the biggest mental health issues affecting workers.
  • Emotional health, when life events create negative emotions and depression.

Often all 3 are linked. It's well documented that  physical problems often arise a result of sustained mental and emotional problems. 

2.   To be able to consider the level of health of the employee/employer                             relationship.

  • You have to assess the way your organization is set up to support the wellbeing of your employees through your culture, structure and policies. There is a clear correlation with employee engagement.
  • Good businesses will not only be alerted to and provide for lapses in the health of their people, they will also work hard to raise awareness of the benefits of health to their employees to help prevent lapses which lead to absence and presenteeism

Wellbeing in action

There are many case studies now circulating which demonstrate good practice.  This international bank took a multi-faceted approach to wellbeing. The bank took the decision to put employee self-responsibility at the heart of their strategy, which can mean a big switch in culture for some businesses. 

Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos was an early adopter of the principles of wellbeing at work. Hsieh claims success was based on a model of fostering good relationships and promoting wellbeing at work

Here are some of the principles he followed: 

  • Making customer service the responsibility of everyone in the company
  • Making company culture the No. 1 priority
  • Applying principles of the science of happiness to run the business and
  • To help employees grow both personally and professionally. 

Linking wellbeing to engagement

In my own experience, I led a sub-team which achieved attendance rates some 80% above average. Their staff survey results achieved an incredible 100% satisfaction at work, compared to an average of some 50%. Not only that, results were over target and the team had formed a reputation for great customer focus. I realized factors which influenced engagement also impacted on the overall wellbeing of the team. When I drilled down into what made not only their performance shine but why they were so happy at work, these were the top 5 reasons given. 

  • Personal autonomy
  • Doing what they loved
  • Being able to be innovative
  • Having a leader who knew their abilities and appreciated them
  • Having fun and being part of a closely knit team

How to integrate a wellbeing culture in your business

To integrate a wellbeing culture into your business you need a holistic approach, introducing the concept of wellbeing across the whole employee lifecycle, from selection for recruitment through to exit avenues for employees. Wellbeing principles must be written in policies, reward systems, and workplace practices. 

To get you started on your wellbeing journey, here are 10 steps which if followed will set the scene for improved wellbeing and also help to increase employee engagement in your business. 

1. Create your wellbeing vision

Benchmark against successful organizations and research best practice to get clear about what a healthy organization looks like. Develop a set of outcome-based success criteria.

2. Communicate your wellbeing story and principles

Communicate your wellbeing vision and principles to employees, stakeholders, and customers. Take every opportunity to communicate well-being as a priority.

3. Create a positive wellbeing policy and process

Build wellbeing principles into your policies and processes, so employees are clear about what your vision means for them. 

4. Complete a physical environment audit

A safe, well planned, quality physical work environment is essential and is well worth any investment to get it right. Make sure employees have easy access to what they need to do their job well.

5. Invest in health-promoting activities

Partner with local charities or health experts to provide a range of health promoting activities to your employees in order to raise awareness and a solution orientated focus.

6. Review your benefits package

Make sure your financial rewards are sufficient to meet at least basic needs. Offer discounted gym membership, or other health-inducing activities as non-financial benefits, such as an employee assistance program.

7. Determine healthiness of working relationships

Assess the healthiness of manager/employee relationships as well as team cohesiveness. Do what you can to improve internal customer service. 

8. Celebrate good health examples

Celebrate success at every opportunity. Share good news stories across your internal communications as well as externally where appropriate.

9. Improve employee engagement levels

Find ways to get the best out of your employees and develop shared values and emotional commitment. Find out what it takes to get your employees to feel proud about working for you.

10. Measure and get feedback

Get regular and meaningful employee feedback as well as measuring levels of absence, presenteeism and achievement of results to assess the success of your wellbeing strategy.