The last year has impacted many aspects of our lives. Furlough, working from home, lockdown after lockdown – they have all taken their toll, not least on our wellbeing and mental health.
What the events of the last year have also done, however, is highlight the importance of employee wellbeing in the workplace.
While employee wellbeing isn’t a new concept, more and more companies are now starting to realise just how big a shift in performance can be generated from investing in their team’s welfare.
We’re not talking about paying the biggest wages or having the nicest company car. It’s about making sure your employees feel heard and valued, and that you are supporting them in any and every way that you can. To help you do just, that we’ve compiled our top 10 tips on how to improve employee wellbeing.
What is Employee Wellbeing?
First of all, how do we define employee wellbeing?
When we’re talking about employee wellbeing, we are referring to the impact your job has on your overall health and happiness.
Work wellbeing goes beyond just the job however – it also takes into account physical health, exercise and nutrition, mental health, mood, and cognition. It’s about understanding and supporting your employees from a holistic perspective and considering their overall quality of life.
Why is Team Wellbeing Important?
A happy and content team is more efficient, more productive, and creates a better working atmosphere and culture.
With happy and engaged employees, you also get decreased staff turnover, improved quality of work, and a reputation as a good employer, which is an increasingly important factor for customers as well as potential new hires.
If all of that wasn’t enough, you also save money by investing in your employee’s wellbeing. The Centre for Mental Health has estimated that UK companies are losing £34.9 billion in productivity due to mental health issues, so it’s worth investing in.
10 Tips For Improving Employee Wellbeing
So you know why employee wellbeing is important, and the benefits of investing in your team – here are our top 10 ideas to improve employee wellbeing:
1. Make recognition and praise integral to your company’s culture
You’d be surprised how far a bit of praise and recognition can go towards the wellbeing of your employees.
It is one of the easiest and simplest ways of improving team wellbeing, by recognising the good work they are doing, and actively taking the time to praise and thank them for it.
In fact, a study by SHRM found that 90% of employees questioned said their work had meaning and purpose when they feel that their management care. It also showed that 70% felt praise and recognition at work made them happier at home.
2. Organise social events
Encouraging your colleagues and employees to build relationships that go beyond purely work interactions is so important.
This is particularly valuable with the increase of working from home and remote working, as there can often feel like a disconnect between office workers and remote workers.
Organising remote team building activities, or even better, in-person social events, can go a long way in improving employee wellbeing. Some ideas for in-person office socials can include:
- Quiz nights
- Escape rooms
- Cooking classes
- Office bake off
- Work sports day
- Office party
Feeling connected to the people you spend a sizeable part of your day with is integral to team wellbeing.
3. Offer benefits to support wellbeing
Investing a little and paying for some additional benefits for your employees can have a seriously big impact on staff wellbeing.
This could be anything from providing healthy snacks in the office, to discount access to gyms and retail, to private medical insurance, or even support and training on their finances (more on that below). There are options for every budget. You will also find plenty of companies out there that offer some great packages for employee benefits. Here are some of our favourites:
Bike2Work scheme – help your employees buy a bike to cycle to work and save money.
Staff Treats – offer a wide range of benefits including discounts at retailers and supermarkets, setting up a peer-to-peer recognition scheme, they also have a strong focus on wellbeing and mental health support, which we love.
Stash Agency – let you send gift boxes and hampers to your staff to let them know you care.
Or finally – bring them to a Work.Life coworking space! Some of our benefits for employees include: breakfast on Monday, healthy treats on wellness Wednesday, beer and pizza on Thursday, discounts on local bars and eateries, yoga classes, fresh fruit, and all the coffee you can drink. All this is included in the price of your membership, so there’s no need to spend money elsewhere to improve employee engagement.
4. Celebrate your values
Make sure that every employee is aware of your company’s core values and mission. This can help focus and engage team members, making them feel part of a wider project, and more connected to both the business and to their colleagues. Whenever you communicate with the team – which you should be often! – make sure you are referring to your company values. You should also ensure that these are easy to locate, in your HR system or intranet, or even up on the wall in the office so everyone is reminded of them at all times.
5. Check in (a lot!)
If you aren’t frequently checking in on your employee’s wellbeing, their unhappiness at work could fly under the radar. A quarterly or mid-year review isn’t enough – you need to ensure that managers are checking in frequently, giving regular, constructive feedback and getting feedback from employees too. Your HR team might also want to check in with each team member occasionally, to find out how they are doing, and whether they are happy at work.
For more advice on work happiness, download the second issue of our Work Happy magazine here.
6. Provide support for mental health
There’s no denying that we are living through a stressful time at the moment. The pandemic has taken a toll on our lives and our mental health.
This only makes taking action to support your staff for mental health all the more important!
When it comes to supporting mental health at work, here are many things you can do to help:
- Make it clear what support you have for mental health from day 1
- Train and install a mental health first aider
- Provide external and anonymous support for mental health like Self Space or Spill.
- Provide training for all employees, but management and senior management in particular, on mental health in the workplace
- Read our interview with Chance Marshall from Self Space on Supporting Mental Health While Working Remotely
The most important thing is often just making sure that your employees know that mental health is a key priority for your company, and that you can and will do all you can to help.
7. Encourage staff to consider their physical health
Physical health has such a huge impact on a person’s sense of wellbeing and happiness and encouraging your staff to take that into account.
We don’t mean forcing the team to go on a morning jog together before you all start your day (though a run club is a good employee engagement idea!), but encouraging more movement in their working day is a good start.
Sitting at a desk for an entire day can take its toll on our physical and mental wellbeing so wherever possible, you could encourage staff to take walking meetings, or take breaks to walk around every hour or so. Encouraging wellbeing at work doesn’t need to be expensive.
8. Offer hybrid working for a better work/life balance
While many companies have been forced into making remote work a feature of their working practices over the last year, many are also looking keep an office space in one form or another.
Offering your employees the option to work remotely, even just part of the time, and creating a hybrid working policy gives them the opportunity to take their schedule and working practices into their own hands.
Give employees the choice to choose between working in the office and home – but ensure that your office is somewhere they actually want to go, to be with their colleagues in a stimulating, productive setting, with amenities they can’t get at home. The hybrid working model allows for flexibility and helps employees feel they have the choice to work where best suits them and the type of work they’re doing.
9. Offer more holidays
This is more important than you might think, so hear us out. Offering your staff more holiday time throughout the year to properly take a break, unwind and rejuvenate, is one of the easiest and quickest ways of boosting employee wellbeing.
The UK actually has the least amount of holiday allowance in the whole of Europe, and even then, many employees are not taking their full leave.
We all know that when something is in a limited supply you try to make it last as long as possible. So many just take a few days here and there to be able to spread their holiday allowance over the whole year. A couple of days doesn’t qualify as a proper break, however!
By offering more annual leave, you are sending a clear message that they should be taking more time off (and they should!) and in bigger blocks. You are encouraging your staff to think about their work/life balance, and properly take the time to relax and rejuvenate.
Some companies are even taking this a step further by offering unlimited holidays. No, we’ve not lost the plot, this is a real thing that has been implemented by some of the most well-known companies in the world like Netflix and Hubspot. What we are talking about here is results-driven holidays. Put simply, your holiday allocation policy is linked with the results delivered. The policy states that as long as your employees are meeting their set deadlines and goals then they can take as many holiday days as they like. It’s a great way of extending a sense of trust to your employees as well as an incentive to boost performance and efficiency within the company.
Another great incentive practiced by many companies (including ours!) is to offer a day of extra holiday for each year working at the company. Again, this can increase engagement and loyalty to your business.
Finally, if it’s feasible, consider offering an extra day (or half day) of holiday as recognition for great work, providing a tangible reward for empoyees that will help to motivate and engage them.
10. Measure employee engagement
You could be running many different employee engagement initiatives, but if you’re not asking how happy your team are you could be wasting your efforts.
Make sure you are frequently running employee engagement surveys to find out whether your team are truly engaged. In our interactive employee engagement survey template, we gather feedback on the following:
- Your Happiness at Work
- Your Role
- Your Growth & Development
- The Company
- Compensation & Benefits
- Work Environment
Covering these different areas will allow your company to get feedback on all aspects of your employee engagement strategy – what’s working, and what isn’t. From the results, you know where to focus your efforts in order to ensure your team are fully engaged and happy at work.
Your employee engagement strategy doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. It can start with small steps, offering praise when earned and exploring hybrid working practices, or investing in just one activity or piece of software.
Whatever you choose to do, taking the time to understand your employee’s needs and wants, offering mental health support, and generally prioritising their wellbeing is a sure-fire way of creating a working culture that is happy, fulfilling, engaging, and (you’ll be glad to hear) more efficient and productive.
96% of people say they’re happier since joining a Work.Life coworking space. Find out how you can boost employee wellbeing by becoming a Work.Life member.