Wellbeing in business is much more than giving your employees vouchers to buy cheap pushbikes and buying better office chairs. Wellbeing is about the physical and psychological strength and resilience of your workforce. It is about creating teams of Thinking Performers who are going to champion your business because they want to, and because they believe in you.
So it must therefore pervade the Values and Beliefs of your business. Wellbeing is not an afterthought, it is not something to be tacked on to a list of HR functions, it must be part of your culture.
So here is my list of good practice in Wellbeing:
- It has to be part of the Values statements of the business.
- Having an Employee Opinion Survey, which is confidential, analysed and the results fed back to the staff. Any actions needed must be taken and staff kept informed.
- Having a robust and transparent HR process that allows staff to speak freely and to be able to air their grievances safely. This should be part of the Disciplinary process and may also include policies on topics such as Whistle-blowing.
- Having an Employee Assistance programme (external provider of objective information and support), plus Occupational Health and possibly subsidised medical insurance that includes psychological problems.
- Properly conducted appraisals along with the opportunity for staff to provide feedback on their managers performance.
- Support for specific health issues such as Stop Smoking, Cycle To Work.
- Encouraging a company programme for supporting charity and also allowing for some of the charity activities to be centred around fun exercise.
- Where the company premises can accommodate it, provide free or subsidised classes for staff in Wellbeing activities such as Yoga, Meditation, and Pilates.
- Training all levels of staff in Communication skills, Leadership skills, Active Listening and the power of language. If we all took the trouble to communicate better, it would solve many stress issues at work.
- Take this seriously and deal with issues such as bullying and harassment openly and properly. Much goes wrong in businesses because they have loads of procedures that all very lovely, but never enforced.
- Learn how to get results by creating better, happier and more motivated staff. Stop focusing on just the figures. Get the staff right and the figures will take care of themselves.
- Engage all levels of staff in working groups that do actually contribute to business performance and reward those who come up with good ideas.
- Provide free or subsidised one-on-one therapy support for anyone who needs psychological support. Better to deal with the problem when it is small, rather than have them start taking time off.
- Take seriously the physical and psychological stresses of work, especially shift work, long hours and night work. These working patterns are proven to have long term serious effects on mental and physical health.
- Provide good quality chairs, encourage staff to get up and move around, keep working areas tidy and organised, make sure there is equipment such as trollies to carry heavy items- and once provided, enforce its use.
- If you have a canteen or vending machines, provide healthy food, plenty of water.
- Allow plants in offices, smarten them up, stick a few paintings on the walls. The workplace should be pleasant. Artwork encourages creativity.
- Have a quiet relaxation space.
- Study your absence and staff retention statistics to spot any Wellbeing issues and deal with them.
- Encourage fun social and family activities.
The list can go on forever. Of course you will be limited by your premises and your profit margins, but a lot of these things can be very cheap, or even free. Better to start doing something than nothing at all. Your business stands to gain loyal, hardworking and intelligent staff who will willingly work hard to make you a profit.