21st November 2019
It’s no secret that mental health is an increasingly prominent concern in today’s society, and it’s because of this that conversation about employee wellbeing has grown over the past few years. According to research carried out by REBA (Reward & Employee Benefits Association), in 2016 only one third of their respondents had an employee wellbeing strategy in place. This is in stark contrast to the remarkable 68.4% of respondents who do in 2019. It is projected that more than 80% of companies will adopt a wellbeing strategy next year; will yours be one of them?
What is Employee Wellbeing?
Quite simply, employee wellbeing means taking care of your employees. It pertains to both their physical and mental health.
According to mental health charity MIND, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a problem with mental health every year. The prevalence of mental health in society has made it one of the biggest concerns in the boardroom today – with 62% of REBA’s respondents reporting that this was their priority when it comes to employee wellbeing. In fact, of these respondents, almost half (45.9%) have a mental health strategy in place. Again, this demonstrates considerable growth, with the figure sitting at just 15.8% in 2018.
How Have Companies Addressed Employee Wellbeing?
In the last two years, companies who invested in an employee wellbeing strategy are reported to have spent – on average – between £26 and £50 per employee.
This money has been spent on a variety of strategy features including;
- Smartphone apps.5% of these employers provide access to health and wellbeing apps on smartphones, and 31.5% offer access to virtual GPs.
- Employee assistance programmes. 93.6% of employers with a wellbeing strategy offer their staff access to an independent advisor to talk to about stress, or any concerns at work.
- Social media. 24.1% of the respondents to the survey reported that they are using social media more as a communication tool for wellbeing.
- Cloud based HR systems. Good cloud based HR systems are available on any device, so employees can access information on work place policies, support and information at work or at home. And with self-service functionality in the best systems, stressed employees can request time off without having to be in the workplace
How to Implement an Employee Wellbeing Strategy
Getting started with an employee wellbeing strategy can seem like a somewhat daunting at task first glance, simply because there are so many avenues that can be taken. Businesses that are new to this mode of thought are advised to start small, and offer their staff a few options before embarking on a large scale wellbeing campaign. A great way to find out what might work for your company is to conduct an employee survey, and simply ask your staff what they want.
What staff wellbeing activities can be done at work?
Employers should consider wellbeing ideas that can be actioned at work, as well as take-home advice.
Physical Wellbeing Activities
In an effort to take care of the physical wellbeing of employees, options could be;
- Make healthy snacks available, such as offering a fruit basket or alternative milks (non-dairy)
- Promote and educate about healthy eating with posters or training sessions
- Offer invitations to exercise sessions (in and out of work), for example groups walks on Friday lunchtimes, or yoga classes in a local venue after work
- Host training on ergonomic exercises, and reiterate the fact that staff are allowed – and encouraged – to take breaks from their screen
Mental Wellbeing Activities
To ensure employees’ mental health is addressed, there are a number of actions to try;
- Create a social calendar and fill it with events. This could be everything from summer and Christmas parties, to pub lunches and charity bake sales. These kinds of activities encourage social interaction and the feeling of togetherness.
- Hold regular meetings. Whether these are one-to-ones, team meetings, or whole staff sessions, communication in meetings is an integral part of creating a solid team in which everyone feels valued.
- Offer employees a channel for venting. Options for this include implementing a buddy system, putting an ‘agony aunt’-style figure in each team, or promoting helplines for staff to call if they are stressed or upset.
- Implement team-driven activities. In addition to holding events, small scale activities that promote togetherness can be very beneficial. This could be things like secret Santa, birthday cakes and gifts, fancy dress competitions for Halloween, sweepstakes, and an office advent calendar.
- Make sure the office is comfortable. Consider everything from access to natural light and ergonomic chairs to colour schemes, music, and artwork. The presence of team photos helps to echo a sense of friendship and care.
Why Employee Wellbeing is so Important in 2020
The aforementioned statistics reveal that mental health is still a hugely important concern in today’s world. This is unlikely to change, and from an employment perspective many people feel that a company has a duty of care to consider the health and wellbeing of their staff. In 2020, we are likely to see further research and development in the world of wellbeing, and it’s never been so important to pay attention and think about what you can do to address it.
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