Did you know, employees in the UK work some of the longest hours in Europe? And given that we spend so much of our waking lives in the workplace, it’s no surprise that our jobs can impact significantly on our wellbeing.
In fact, 12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression in 2018/19, with the number of workers suffering from these conditions currently at its highest rate since 2001.
So, what can employers do about it?
The good news is that no matter how big or small your organisation may be, there are some tried-and-tested strategies you can follow to put positive workplace wellbeing on the agenda. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
Hire individuals who are a good ‘fit’
Build the strongest team you can. A company’s culture is brought to life by the dynamics of its team and the personalities of the people who work within that team. Making sure any new people you introduce are the right fit culturally is just as important to workplace wellbeing as the skills he or she may demonstrate on their CV.
Think what values your company stands for and whether the person demonstrates these beliefs. Consider whom they’ll be working with day-to-day – will they get along? Are they likely to clash and cause disruption?
Recognise and reward a job well done
There’s nothing more demoralising than giving a task your all and never receiving an ounce of recognition for your efforts. Over time, this can have a detrimental impact on feelings of self-worth and could cause potentially resentment that hard work isn’t being appreciated.
It’s important to recognise the valuable contribution that everyone in your business is making. Even if your company has annual performance reviews and a bonus scheme, it’s still vital to acknowledge individual achievements in real-time. A simple ‘thank you’, or a ‘great job’ email, is enough to let an employee know their contribution is recognised and valued.
Embrace agile working
Flexible working or flexitime essentially means allowing your employees a degree of freedom regarding where, when and even how they work. It’s best practice among most forward-thinking companies and for good reason – studies have shown that flexible working has a positive effect on employee wellbeing, so it’s little surprise that companies with flexitime consecutively rank well in employee happiness surveys.
Supporting flexible working makes it easier for your employees to work around commitments like childcare and doctors’ appointments while avoiding rush hour and fulfilling other responsibilities that may fall on them. It demonstrates that you trust your employees to get on and do their job without supervision, which is itself a great motivator.
Offer wellbeing initiatives
We all know that eating well and exercising regularly is good for our physical wellbeing, but exercise can also benefit our emotional wellbeing by boosting mood and helping to reduce stress levels. According to the NHS, even taking a brisk 10-minute walk every day is enough to make a difference.
Practising mindfulness, yoga and meditation are also proven to improve overall wellbeing and can help counter the negative effects of workplace stress. Consider how you might make wellbeing initiatives part of your company’s culture. For example, introduce a lunchtime walking club, a weekly yoga class or a paid subscription to a meditation app like Headspace. Why not ask the team for their ideas too?
Support employee growth
Investing in your employees’ career development and training is a great way to promote a culture of wellbeing in your organisation. Employees can develop negative feelings when they feel trapped in their role, or that their progression is being hampered. Listen to your employees’ personal goals and support them to achieve them, such as by sending them on training courses to gain new qualifications.
The advancement of skills and the gaining of new skills is great for aiding a sense of growth and purpose. Support of this kind can be very powerful for nurturing happy and invested individuals who are proud to work for your organisation. Not to mention, there’s a mutual benefit in ensuring your employees are up to date with the latest ways of working and market trends.
Encourage genuine connection
Loneliness is a very isolating feeling and one that increasingly threatens mental wellbeing in adults. Human beings are naturally emotive creatures who crave meaningful connection and social interaction. The workplace, where most people spend so much of their waking time, can be an extremely unhappy place in the absence of friendships.
While your employees are there to ultimately do a job, it’s important to cultivate a culture of inclusion. Afterall, you’re all in this together!
Make time to do things socially outside of work, such as a monthly team lunch or payday drinks. Acknowledge birthdays and always celebrate team successes. A strong team culture, where people feel welcome, accepted and free to be themselves, is an intrinsic part of employee wellbeing.
Do you pass the stress test?
Feeling overstretched at work can easily result in feelings of dissatisfaction that can negatively impact on employee wellbeing. Of course, we all experience the odd occasion when an urgent task comes in or a big deadline looms but working under such intense pressure shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence.
Routinely exhibiting immense stress, while working with what feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders, is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out. Humans have a limited capacity for this kind of pressure and a stressful workplace environment.
If you can’t bring in extra resource, consider outsourcing to professional third parties. For example, there are many specialist organisations who can handle business functions such as IT and accounting, for a flexible low-cost retainer – freeing up your employees to focus on other important tasks.
Now focus on what you do best!
Here at ASfB, we can improve your wellbeing in a number of ways and help remove the financial stresses of running a business. We specialise in providing outsourced accounting and bookkeeping to small and medium sized business based across the UK. Working from our Bournemouth office, we act as independent advisors and an extension of your in-house team, providing valuable expertise in tax, VAT and business accounting
We also provide ambitious business owners with a program of business development and personal support workshops in a range of topics.
Wellbeing starts with you, so call us on 01202 755600 or email email@example.com for an informal chat about how we can add value and improve your business wellness.