Three key areas to improve employee well-being
‘If you look after your staff they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple,’
Companies focused on increasing employee well-being will have a much better chance of attracting and retaining staff in the future. The good news is that, as more companies introduce initiatives to increase well-being, the momentum created will mean others have to follow.
Companies are at different stages in their wellness programmes; from market leaders like Google to much smaller enterprises taking their first steps. Many are at the stage when this subject is effectively on the agenda of their top team for the first time.
But the problem is the future is happening now. Companies who fail to plan in this key area will be playing catch up as the focus on people increases and the work place changes.
‘Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.’
Larry Page, CEO, Alphabet (Google)
So, what areas should you be looking at to get going on the employee well-being journey to future proof your organisation?
We've outlined 3 key areas:
1. People have to feel good about their financial well-being
This isn’t the subject that most HR professionals would start with.
However, recent research by PWC identifies stress caused by financial issues as a major workplace issue. (‘Financial Stress and the Bottom Line’ September 2017).
PWC found that:
Over the past five years, roughly half of all employees (53% in 2017) felt stressed dealing with their personal financial situation
Nearly half of all employees (46%) say that financial challenges cause them the most stress in their lives
46% of employees who say they are distracted at work by their personal finances spend over 3-hours per week worrying. The areas of worry include debt issues and having no savings to meet unexpected expenses.
These can be difficult issues to discuss with your employer.
Companies are using different approaches; from giving access to independent advice to developing financial sections on their Intranets (giving information about company financial benefits and providing budgeting tools, for example).
Successful initiatives tend to move staff from developing their financial literacy to changing their attitude (encouraging pension savings, for example, or saving for company share options).
We believe all companies should give this matter more focus.
2. People have to feel good about the company
It’s no surprise that employees want to feel good about the company they work for.
Corporate social responsibility has become more important and is now a key factor in how companies are viewed by younger workers (see, for example, Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2017).
In a recent survey at one of our clients (who are very active in the whole corporate responsibility area), staff were asked what attracted them to the company. Corporate social responsibility including attitude to sustainability, work with local charities and provision of staff volunteering days came out very high.
It all helps employees see the company as ‘their company.’
Good organisations in this space are able to answer the question: ‘what impact does the organisation have on the world and the community around it?’
A great answer to this question is probably one that is unattainable; but acts as a vision that keeps everyone aiming high.
3. People have to feel good about themselves at work.
First off - staff want to feel good about their work environment.
Staff spend a large proportion of their time in the workplace. The environment is hugely important in ensuring employee well-being. Investing in the workplace can provide significant employee productivity gains.
Areas to look at: properly equipped work space, quiet areas for mindful work, well equipped and available meeting rooms and clean and well stocked kitchen / break out areas. Also, professional image given when customers and visitors arrive.
Staff feel good if they work with and understand up-to-date technology.
Companies need initiatives that encourage staff to improve their health; nutrition and fitness.
For example, subsidised gym membership, team initiatives (steps walked over the month, entering a team race to raise money for charity) or provision of healthy food or snacks.
But this is all part of a more holistic catch-all approach to employee well-being.
In reality, employees will only feel good about themselves at work if they are comfortable with the whole management style of the organisation. In the words of Simon Sinek: ‘people want to come to work to be lead, not to be managed.’
Team work and appreciating the colleagues they work with; feeling included and able to help build the business. The ability to contribute and grow. It’s part of the much bigger leadership and culture strategy.
Don’t forget communication.
‘69% of nonparticipants in employee well-being programmes said they simply weren’t aware their workplace had a wellness program to begin with.’ (Sean Mcmanamy ‘Why people do – and don’t- participate in wellness programmes?’ Harvard Business Review – October 2016).
If staff don’t know the details of the benefits they’re entitled to, how to claim or if they are eligible, the initiatives will have been waste.
Ensure there is regular communication of the well-being programmes on offer - and that they’re aren’t just covered off at an induction training session when staff first join.