16 surefire ways to boost employee wellbeing in your workplace
Employee wellbeing encompasses the physical, mental/emotional and financial health of your staff. With 58% of the world’s population spending one-third of their life at work, creating a positive work environment that supports employee wellbeing should be a critical concern for every business leader.
The impact of wellbeing on job performance and business outcomes is well documented:
- Mentally healthy workplaces lead to increased motivation and productivity, higher profit margins and improved recruitment and retention.
- As many as 50 percent of Australians have experienced workplace bullying, which costs the economy between $6-36 billion annually. Additionally, mental health conditions cost Australian businesses $11-12 billion each year.
- Work-related stress is the second most compensated workplace illness or injury in Australia, after musculoskeletal injuries.
- Overweight workers are at a higher risk of workplace injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease and asthma.
- Poor health and wellbeing has been linked to increased presenteeism and absenteeism. Presenteeism alone is estimated to cost the Australian economy $36 billion annually.
While it might all seem like bad news, employee wellbeing initiatives can significantly improve the health of your staff (and by extension, your business). Effective health and wellbeing programs have demonstrated a 230% return on investment (ROI), while employee assistance programs can have as much as a 500% ROI.
So what can you start doing today to improve employee wellbeing in your workplace? We have 16 suggestions to get you started.
16 employee wellbeing initiatives for healthier and happier staff
1. Provide an Employee Assistance Program
An employee assistance program (EAP) provides confidential counselling to staff to help with personal or workplace problems that are affecting their wellbeing. While they can be accessed for virtually any issue a worker may have, they are growing in popularity as a way of helping employees with the effects of anxiety, stress and depression. Find out more about employee assistance programs and how to launch one.
2. Help employees work towards long-term goals
Helping employees develop their careers and achieve their goals is a key way of encouraging mental wellbeing and ensuring that staff feel satisfied with their job. In fact, 94% of workers say they would stay at their company longer if they invested more in their career. Unfortunately, the number one reason employees don’t engage in learning is a lack of time. This is a great opportunity for managers to step in and enable staff to dedicate time to learning and development.
3. Set friendly fitness challenges
A little competition never hurt anyone! Setting up fitness challenges for your team will help motivate them to care for their physical health and develop your company’s interpersonal relationships. Whether it’s steps per month or a distance challenge, you can give your employees a goal to work towards and allow colleagues to spur one another on.
4. Introduce wellbeing-based employee benefits
Does your employee rewards program include wellbeing benefits that enable staff to take control of their own physical, mental and financial health? Some examples of benefits that can improve employee wellbeing include:
- Discounted gym memberships
- Discounted healthcare
- Free access to meditation apps
- Employee Access Programs
- Discounts on everyday retail items
- Salary sacrifice schemes
Find out more about how Perkbox can improve employee wellbeing.
5. Arrange regular get-togethers
Healthy relationships with colleagues are incredibly important for wellbeing. Women who say they have a ‘best friend’ at work are more than twice as engaged in their work as those who don’t. Having a close friend at work has been linked to improved job performance for both men and women, including fewer safety incidents, higher profits and more engaged customers.
For business leaders, this means that enabling employees to build friendships with one another through regular social events can have a positive impact on wellbeing and business outcomes. Think about it: if staff feel comfortable with their colleagues, then they’re more likely to reach out for support from then when needed, as well as just having a more enjoyable workplace experience in general.
6. Introduce designated wellbeing leaders
If nobody is directly responsible for wellbeing, then it can be easy for programs to start strong and then gradually fall off everyone’s radar. A designated wellbeing leader can monitor and maintain the effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives. They can also talk to their colleagues directly to find out what’s working and what isn’t, as well as increase uptake by getting people involved and excited.
7. Encourage real breaks
It’s an all too common sight to see workers sitting at their desks during lunch, eating with one hand and typing with the other. Australians are particularly susceptible to this, with the average employee working six hours unpaid overtime each week - approximately two months every year!
Real, regular breaks are critical to wellbeing, so encourage employees to take their lunch away from their desk and to take other breaks throughout the day as needed. They’ll come back feeling physically and mentally refreshed, and are likely to be more productive.
8. Create a comfortable work environment
Our environments greatly affect our wellbeing, so creating a pleasant and comfortable work environment for your employees will improve their physical and mental health. Sit-stand desks, healthy food and drink options, ergonomic seating, and wellness or social spaces are just some of the ways you can improve the workplace environment.
9. Reward and recognise great work
Recognising and rewarding employees for hard work can increase confidence and make people feel valued for the contributions they’re making - both important for mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’ or a reward for completing a project, there are plenty of ways to demonstrate that you appreciate your staff and give them a happiness boost.
10. Encourage staff to take responsibility for their own wellbeing
Creating a culture that talks about health and wellbeing, and supports employees taking steps to improve themselves will encourage staff to prioritise their own wellbeing. A key part of this is encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Limiting overtime, turning notifications off on the weekends and evenings, and encouraging holidays are some of the ways you can help introduce some balance to your team. But the best way is to lead by example. If their boss is clocking off at 5pm, then staff are less likely to feel pressure to stay back.
11. Consider offering unlimited holidays
While ‘unlimited holidays’ may fill you with fear, they’ve actually been shown to be more successful than you may initially think. While companies who have offered it did see a rise in leave days taken, they also experienced increased productivity and company growth. Trusting and empowering employees to take the leave they need actually appears to have better wellbeing and business outcomes.
12. Create stronger employee-manager relationships
Managers can’t support their employees unless they know what issues they’re facing. And they won’t know unless they take the time to build a strong relationship with their staff. Making regular one-to-one meetings between managers and employees a normal part of company life will encourage open, frequent conversation and allow any issues to be addressed early.
13. Arrange wellbeing workshops
Holding workshops on mindfulness, stress management, yoga, meditation or other techniques can not only help relieve stress, but also introduce employees to new ideas and activities they may enjoy.
14. Make it easy for your staff to make healthy choices
Many of us love the office snacks, but they’re not always the best choice of food. Offering healthy snacks will encourage your employees to prioritise their physical wellbeing, while also reducing any post-sugar rush slumps.
15. Tweak the working routine to work for your staff
Different employees will have different working styles, schedules and preferences. Offering flexibility to staff to craft a work routine that suits them can reduce stress and burnout, while offering a greater work-life balance. It also shows employees you trust them, which is always good for wellbeing.
16. Survey your teams to find out what’s working
Employee wellbeing initiatives are for your staff, so it’s vital that you discover if they are actually working or not. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting your time, money and energy. Collecting regular feedback from employees to determine how they’re feeling and what programs they’d like to see will help you make effective decisions and focus on what’s most important for your team. We recommend using a pulse survey provider so you can get ongoing feedback instead of collecting at only one time such as during an annual survey.
Employee wellbeing is a significant part of your workers’ overall experience at work. To learn more about how investing in employee experience can benefit your company, download the Ultimate Guide to a Killer Employee Experience!