Are employers getting wellbeing right?

Posted: 8th July 2022

Wellbeing is becoming more important in the workplace in all types of organisations.

This increased prominence is down to a range of factors, not least the changes that have occurred because of the recent Covid-19 pandemic which has increased demands from employees from more support from their employers.

In addition, the increase in hybrid working has meant that the previous boundaries between what happens in the home and the office have become increasingly blurred.

And with workers beginning to consider whether to leave or stay with their employers with many resigning because they have simply had enough, health and wellbeing is now becoming a major factor not only in recruiting talent but also in retaining your best members of staff.

For example, a study of 500 human resource decision-makers in the UK by Towergate Health found that 42% believed that support for the health and wellbeing of staff was a key reason people stay with their company, with 26% stating that support for mental health had increased most in importance.

Nearly a third also noted that it was a key reason why people choose to work for them with nearly one in five of employers also stating that not offering enough health and wellbeing support has an impact their ability to recruit and retain people.

However, according to survey from YouGov last month, there remains a major gap between what employers believe they are offering and what employees consider of relevance to their needs.

Whilst 87% of organisations offer employee health and wellbeing services, only 11% of employees rated their access to health and wellbeing advice as important for employee health.

As a result, it was suggested that many employers are not matching health and wellbeing services employee needs and not sourcing specialist external occupational service providers. In fact, nearly half admit that they do not have a formal plan and often act on an ad hoc basis.

Of course, it could be argued that wellbeing can be highly subjective given that it can be influenced by a range of factors such as external conditions (income, material conditions), good feelings day-to-day (happiness, joy, contentment), satisfaction of needs (being safe, secure and connected to others) and personal resources (health, resilience, optimism and self-esteem).

Despite this difficulty in measuring this issue, a recent report from the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work argued that tracking and measuring individuals’ perceptions of wellbeing is critical to the future of an organisation. This is because there is growing research evidence of the link wellbeing trends and business outcomes such as high value staff retention, employee sickness and presenteeism. Simply put, happier workers who have autonomy, direct development in decision-making and support from managers will boost organisational performance over time.

So how can wellbeing be measured? Several suggestions are made in the report including asking specific questions in employee surveys that form the basis of other international wellbeing indices. These include how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?; to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?; how happy did you feel yesterday?; and how anxious did you feel yesterday?”

It also suggests that five domains which contribute to wellbeing namely health, relationships, security, environment, and purpose.

Interestingly, the most important of these are health (which includes mental health support) and relationships, especially with your line manager and others at work. This supports previous findings discussed in this column recently which showed that bad managers were one of the key reasons workers looked for other jobs and if managers start by simply trying to nurture relationships with the team, then not only does trust improve but also performance.

Therefore, it is critical that organisations not only take employee wellbeing seriously but also find ways of measuring it properly to ensure that it can be improved over time through evidence-based interventions.

With the UK facing productivity issues across the economy, there seems to be little focus on addressing poor employee wellbeing which has an impact on how organisations perform. Indeed, recent estimates suggest that sickness and presenteeism costs £78bn ever year.

But if this issue is taken more seriously by managers within both the public and private sector, not only will there be individual improvements in engagement, absenteeism, and better working practices, but improved worker wellbeing will boost productivity across the whole of the UK economy.

Source: Are employers getting wellbeing right? (msn.com)

Categories: Uncategorised