Over the last few months we’ve looked at a range of topics surrounding the concept of employee wellbeing, including the effect remote working has had on it and whether it’s now become an integral part of work culture. But what exactly is employee wellbeing?
The meaning of employee wellbeing
You can probably guess that it has a lot to do with how your employees feel. It can be defined further as: the state of employees’ mental and physical health, resulting from dynamics within – and sometimes outside – the workplace.
Essentially, it’s concerned with a workforce’s overall and individual health in all it’s forms. As an employer you may wonder what that has to do with you; shouldn’t employees be responsible for their own health?
Yes but there are lots of business benefits you may experience by supporting them in this. After all, many people spend much of their waking hours at their jobs, so it’s perhaps only right that employers play a role.
The importance of feeling well at work
The Covid-19 pandemic may have accelerated many organisations’ wellbeing agendas but research has found that there’s been a slight decline in the focus placed on it. Around 60% of line managers are bought into the importance of it compared to 67% last year.
The same report also found that unhealthy workplace habits are prevalent, such as working when ill (presenteeism). It highlighted that the rate was 65% among those in the workplace and as high as 81% among those working from home.
But the benefits of supporting employees in their physical and mental health speak for themselves. Investing in employee wellbeing initiatives could lead to reduced sickness absence, lower rates of presenteeism and leaveism (the idea that an employee uses their annual leave for sickness), as well as increased productivity and better staff retention.
What does an employee wellbeing agenda look like?
It’s important for any measures taken to be holistic and offer all-round support to your entire workforce, not just certain teams or individuals.
Employee mental health is an ever-increasing concern for businesses, even more so following the pandemic, with stress being a key reason for long and short-term absence. Access to counselling services, an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and occupational health services could support employees in both their physical and mental health.
You may even want to explore other initiatives that could help, such as promoting the importance of healthy habits when it comes to personal lifestyle choices.
Who can get involved?
Employee wellbeing should not come down to HR managers alone. All line managers, company leaders, supervisors and employees themselves have a responsibility to promote a healthy workplace culture to help everyone feel their best inside and outside of work.
Those with direct reports could be trained in providing wellbeing support to their team, or at the very least should know where to direct employees with a specific physical or mental health concern.