Why is employee wellbeing so important?
Wellbeing is a buzzword you’ve probably been hearing a lot of recently. There is a growing awareness both in the UK and worldwide of the impact that wellbeing can have on an employee and a business.
But is spending on wellbeing a worthy investment? Why should you invest in your employees’ wellbeing?
Traditionally, workplace wellness has focussed on the physical wellbeing – for example, offering a subsidised gym membership or access to private healthcare. Nowadays it goes much further. Employee wellbeing refers to both an employee’s physical and mental health. Whilst offering a subsidised gym membership is a great way to encourage your team to exercise and stay healthy, equally as important is access to mental health support, or providing a break-out zone in the office where they can relax and decompress after a stressful meeting.
There are many overlaps between an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing, and both aspects are equally as important for keeping a healthy and happy workforce. It is very common for issues in one area to trickle over into the other. Consistently working overtime, for example, may be seen as impacting mental wellbeing as it affects work-life balance and is often related to stress. But it can also lead to a lack of sleep if employees are consistently starting early and finishing late, which can have very physical manifestations. Research shows that as a result of a lack of sleep, we move more slowly, have difficulty concentrating, are more irritable and make bad decisions.
Why invest in employee wellbeing?
A recent study by the Department for Business and Innovation found that there is a considerable amount of evidence showing that an increased wellbeing leads to an improvement of an employee’s job performance. So by investing in wellness programmes, not only will your employees be happier, their productivity will increase.
This is massively important, as a lack of productivity is a big issue for a business. Employees struggling with their mental or physical health are not only more likely to call in sick, but they are more likely to struggle with productivity when they’re actually at work. Mercer found that productivity loss associated with ill-health costs the UK economy £73 billion per year. Similarly, Towers Watson found that more than half of employees who said they were stressed at work felt less productive. An investment in wellbeing, be it by encouraging employees to leave on time rather than staying late, or by providing healthy snacks in the breakout area, could have a massive impact on your team’s stress levels. It is difficult to put a cost on how much stress costs a company (in terms of productivity loss and sick days), but an article written by the Huffington Post estimated that workplace stress costs the UK almost £6.5 billion each year.
Employee attraction and retention
People want to work for a company who prioritises their wellbeing. Employees who feel like they are truly cared for and valued are more likely to join (and stay with) a company. Organisations are becoming more savvy to the need to invest in wellness programmes, both physical and mental, particularly because attracting and retaining the best talent is important. And with a report carried out by Oxford Economics revealing that replacing a member of staff costs, on average, over £30,000 per employee, employee retention is important!
5 simple ways to invest in employee wellbeing
The data is overwhelming; investing in your employees’ wellbeing is a vital part of running a successful business. But it’s easy to get lost with where to start, so we have put together a short list of 5 simple things you can do to invest in your workforce:
- Create a breakout space in the office where employees can go to relax with a coffee during a stressful day at work.
- Take a break! Encourage your employees to take regular breaks. A few minutes each hour away from their computer screen and desk chair will help them stay focussed.
- Provide healthy snacks and fresh water for your employees. It doesn’t have to be superfood smoothies and protein bars, fruit is a inexpensive and effective way to keep your employees healthy and happy.
- Host team activities. Whether it’s an away-day or a post-work wine tasting in the office, creating a community where employees can bond and chat away from the stresses of the work environment is a great way to boost employee satisfaction.
- Show they are valued. Recognising the achievements of your employees and showing them they are a valued team member is another great way of increasing job satisfaction. And a happy employee is a productive employee.
Lorraine Broun, Facilities Supervisor at Autodesk said: “Investing in a TopBrewer for our office refurbishment has shown our employees how much we value them. It has also encouraged them to utilise the new breakout space, promoting social engagement in the workspace.”