Employee Wellbeing: Encouraging A Happier, Healthier Workforce

There is no doubt about it: happy, healthy employees make for an empowered, engaged workforce. Whilst for millennia in society we have seen people work simply to make a wage, pay the bills, and survive, people now are more aware of their innate need for contentment, if not happiness, and opportunity, if not fulfilment.

Traditionally, wellbeing initiatives aimed at improving or maintaining good working conditions, a healthy working environment and the positive mental health of employees, have been written into contracts and formed part of workplace practices and policies. While this is the case for some wellbeing practices, it doesn’t need to be for everything. There are lots of new and different initiatives businesses are introducing – have you considered any of the following?

Hybrid Working Models

Hybrid working models – that is, the split of working between the standard workplace and remote working – have become increasingly popular in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In a survey of UK office-based workers, workplace specialists Envoy found that over 70% of workers believe hybrid working result in personal benefits, and 34% believe they improve employee’s mental health positively. Hybrid working isn’t appropriate for all businesses, but can work brilliantly when done right and agreed between employer and employee.

Capping Working Hours

In the midst of busy periods or big projects, it can be easy to let working hours accumulate to high levels. However, the World Health Organisation has now released research that finds working 55 hours or more per work increases the risk of stroke by 35%, and of ischemic heart disease by 17%. Even if overtime is a popular perk in your organisation, many companies are moving to cap the amount of hours workable per week – to benefit staff’s health, even if not their bank balances.

Increasing – or Unlimiting – Holidays

The standard UK paid allowance is 28 days, inclusive of the usual 8 bank holidays. Going above and beyond this standard allowance, even if to let employees purchase more time off, can be considered a real benefit. In the US, tech firms have begun offering unlimited holiday time (albeit not paid), and the results are not perhaps the short staffing levels expected. Instead, businesses are reporting increased productivity from staff, improved workplace morale and heightening employee engagement as a result of introducing such programmes.

Surprising and Delighting

As with so many things in life, it’s the little things that can make all the difference. Demonstrating genuine human compassion through small and unexpected little touches can delight staff and give them a boost. This might be buying the team each a coffee and croissant in the morning, encouraging them to take an extra half hour break on a sunny day or giving them a real, personalised thank you for some hard work completed. So often, employer–employee relations can become very transactional, and in doing so, the employee’s work becomes simply routine too. The occasional surprise and delight of staff should not replace any other wellbeing focus but can be an easy way to top them up and to prove what a caring, dedicated employer your business is.

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