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The importance of wellbeing has grown significantly over the last two years.
Once the remit of the well-intentioned HR Director who campaigned for free fruit and subsidised gym passes, it’s accelerated up the strategic priority list following numerous credible research studies linking wellbeing and engagement to attrition and productivity.
With poor employee mental health costing the UK economy between £33billion and £42billion a year, the pressure to address both job design and organisational culture has become paramount to remaining competitive in an evolving marketplace.
And it’s not just the cold, hard business case that’s compelling action; the high number of employees reporting that stress and anxiety is normal at work (almost 50% according to Capita) has led to a moral obligation by corporations to do the right thing by their people and provide support across all four wellbeing pillars.
Developing and implementing a wellbeing strategy which ensures people can bring their whole selves to work and thrive is a now a top priority, and increasingly, something employees expect to see.
Wondering where to begin with your wellbeing strategy? Or thinking about how best to reinvigorate the one you currently have in place? Read on for our 5 top tips for success:
Secure leadership commitment
Your leaders are incredibly important in demonstrating how seriously your business takes employee wellbeing. If they’re not role modelling the behaviours that promote wellbeing, all your efforts will seem superficial and employees will not believe that you ACTUALLY care.
Incorporating wellbeing into management accountability and publicly publishing your wellbeing performance are great steps to gaining credibility for your wellbeing strategy internally and externally.
Do your research
If you want your wellbeing programme to resonate with employees and you need to gain advocacy with your leadership team, always start with research. The best way to get your board to sit up and take notice is to share any evidence of why wellbeing strategies work for business – in reality you’re unlikely to get their buy-in without it. Qualitative and quantitative data will help you demonstrate the problem, as well as the consequences of not fixing it.
When it comes to your employees, do you know what they want? Have you asked them what they would like? Too often, wellbeing programmes are based on what a company thinks employees need, as opposed to what your employees actually want.
Get to know your audience
Your wellbeing strategy won’t work as a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to get to know your audience, their attitudes and motivations. Creating audience personas has been really successful for a number of our clients as a way to understand what makes different audience groups unique, how best to engage them and what great work looks like to them. Developing personas to segment your audience will help you prepare more personalised comms and benefits.
Equip your line managers
Mind’s workplace wellbeing index reports that feeling motivated, feeling our workload is manageable and taking time to reflect are the three most important factors for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Line managers have a key role to play here and ensuring wellbeing is a core competency of people management is essential to success of your strategy. Supporting line managers with training, coaching and effective comms will all help drive this success.
Provide autonomy and grant permission
A thoroughly researched and strategically prepared wellbeing programme will be totally wasted if your employees don’t feel like they have the autonomy to utilise the policies and services you have in place.
Employees must feel they have permission to take time out to attend a financial advisor session during work hours or the autonomy to leave the office early the day after a particularly arduous deadline. Make sure line managers are making clear what’s expected and most importantly what’s not expected. Why not introduce a work manifesto which lays outs the key elements of this? Signed and agreed to by the leadership team!
At Synergy, we’ve recently introduced our own wellbeing strategy which includes regular healthy breakfasts, access to mental health support if needed and financial advice available to everyone if they want it. In addition to the detailed strategy, we also have yoga every Thursday morning, ran by our very own yogi, Meg, giving people a calm and mindful way to start their day, with deep breathing and a good old stretch.