Karen Ormiston says boosting employee wellbeing can reap rewards for charities but there's more to it than a free fruit bowl
The total number of working days the UK economy lost to stress in 2015/16 amounted to 11.7 million. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing working landscape stress has become the most common cause of long-term sickness absence.
Forward-thinking organisations are increasingly aware of the burden of stress and are proactively addressing employee wellbeing. Greater wellbeing at work is related to increased productivity, performance, commitment and staff retention. At Investors in People Scotland we support organisations to implement an approach to health and wellbeing that will really make a difference and drive business outcomes.
So, how can you put stress to the test, and support employee wellbeing?
As with any attempt to make changes to an organisation, a baseline review of existing practices must be undertaken. In doing so, consider the support currently available and the thoughts and feelings of employees. It is also essential to consider your organisational objectives and how wellbeing activity can support these. To really harness the benefits of a workplace health and wellbeing approach, it must go beyond the fruit bowl and be embedded in your strategy.
As you evolve your approach to workplace wellbeing and consider the measures that could work for your organisation, continue to consult your people. What would help your employees to balance their career and personal life? Achieving a work-life balance is important to everyone but what this looks like is different to each individual; invite your people to feedback via employee focus groups, surveys or interviews.
There are a wide range of approaches available to those looking to improve employee wellbeing. Introducing a facility to carry out health checks and offer advice – whether on-site or through a third-party provider – can directly reduce stress or illnesses.
Giving employees greater control over their working arrangements can boost wellbeing and morale, drive down absenteeism and lateness, and improve staff retention. Flexitime, time in lieu and working from home can ensure employees secure a better work-life balance.
In terms of childcare, voucher schemes can support parents in a way that is not a financial or administrative burden on employers.
A reduced working week, or consolidated hours, provides flexibility for employees without negative implications on employers. Job-sharing is also attractive to those who wish to have a better work-life balance.
It is crucial to consistently communicate your health and wellbeing approach and its benefits. Initiatives such as flexible working can require a shift in mind-set. Support your people to understand the benefits of such initiatives, and to develop skills which help their own time management in line with their new working arrangements. As the demands of each role will vary, management and leaders will have to demonstrate key decision-making and mentoring skills to implement arrangements that will benefit each employee.
Ensure that everyone from the top-down follows a personalised plan that values both personal and working time. If managers stay in the office until 8pm every evening and do not take time off in lieu, they are not setting a good example for others to follow.
Armed with this information, will you commit to developing a healthier workplace in 2017?
Investors in People Scotland will provide you with the tools and support you need to implement an approach to workforce health and wellbeing that will drive your business outcomes, and result in a happier, healthier workforce. We know how to go beyond the fruit bowl, and will support you to put in place robust and effective health and wellbeing practices which really make a difference.
Karen Ormiston is Marketing and Communications Executive at Investors in People Scotland