Wellbeing is increasingly recognised as a business-critical issue. It impacts productivity, profit, engagement, turnover, and absence. It matters to the bottom line.
In the past couple of decades there has been a significant shift in employer attitudes towards wellbeing. The pandemic dramatically accelerated this as the peek through virtual windows into the lives, homes and families, flatmates - or the absence of - of their employees are once seen no longer to be ignored.
The pandemic forced a dramatic shift in our working styles to many of us as we have reflected in our recent piece on hybrid working. The pros and cons can be endlessly debated (and often are) but this is not a trend it is not going away and is strongly entwined with wellbeing and the policies that define wellbeing in any business.
I asked one senior HR person why their organisation was suddenly into health and wellbeing and he said ‘regrettable turnover’, that he couldn’t afford to lose people. It’s talent management – retaining and attracting good people.
Sir Cary Cooper, professor, organisational psychology, University of Manchester in the Economist report Rewriting the Rules: Building a healthy hybrid workplace.
The CIPD encourages us to think of an effective wellbeing policy as a holistic framework. One that is embraced and reflected upon regularly by senior leaders and is updated and adapted to reflect the pace of change in the workforce. Mental health is a critical element but so too is physical health and safety and increasingly relevant in today’s world, financial wellbeing and of course in the hybrid world social wellbeing. Indicators of belonging, engagement and happiness can, and we would argue should, be monitored and valued as a vital insight to the wellbeing of employees.
The 2022 Deloitte survey, Mental Health and Employers calculates the cost to UK business of poor mental as between £53 and £56 billion in 2020 to 21. Shockingly this equates to over 2.6% of the UK's annual gross domestic product. This breaks down into three major causes, absenteeism, staff turnover and the most significant factor which is presenteeism. Staff clocking in when they are unwell are not only unable to perform at their best but also compound and often extend the impact of their mental health challenge.
Today’s manager needs to do so much more, and they need comprehensive support and training. Specifically training to support their teams as effectively as possible in the hybrid working world, and training to understand and identify mental health issues early and respond and support appropriately. To optimise today’s workforce this critical mid-level of managers must not just manage, not just lead and inspire but care and have the confidence to act when they spot warning signs.
The responsibility does not just sit solely with managers, senior leaders must, as highlighted by the CIPD, embrace wellbeing monitoring and matrices into their dashboards, they need to lead by example, setting the tone and demonstrating good practice.
The key to success here, it seems to us, is not new. Communication is paramount, talking, sharing and critically, listening, actively trying to understand the pressures your teams are under and responding appropriately. Some businesses found that the pandemic has helped them build up a better picture and understanding of their employees' needs and concerns, those that actively engaged their staff and listened are reporting more engaged employees and even less pressure from staff turnover.
Once you have listened and understood the concerns, stresses, drivers and motivators of your employees you can begin to build a comprehensive policy that provides a range of solutions and support for the diverse needs of your workforce. There are lots of policies, training, resources and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) companies out there to help businesses provide a suite of support and solutions for their staff. It is not a case of one size fits all, as ever with our most important resource, our people they are individuals with differing needs, pressure points as well as abilities to communicate these to their employers.
New generations of employees are more comfortable being vocal about their expectations from their employers and should be seen as a force for good in helping reduce the stigma or just discomfort about talking about mental health. Let’s embrace that as a strength in the culture of business.
So, it is not just about what is on offer, it is about the environment in which they are offered, the mood music, the culture. Businesses who openly talk about wellbeing, removing the stigma around mental health, creating an open and supportive environment see the biggest return on investment on their wellbeing policies of over 5:1!
The case for investment in employee wellbeing is not just a business imperative. It's simply the right thing to do. Be guided by your people, listen and continually be open to learning about what works best for them. This starts with listening. Our surveys can help you understand your staff and their needs and expectations. The confidentiality we guarantee offers your people the confidence to speak out, and our expertise can help you respond to and build more meaningful relationships with your employees. Speak to us at Employee Feedback to start your business wellbeing journey today.