The idea of employee wellbeing is increasing in importance on the organisational agenda and deservedly so. A focus on wellbeing presents employers with the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives and the welfare of the people that work for it – not to mention a chance to engage, retain and attract talent. But what exactly is employee wellbeing?
What wellbeing is not….
Let’s start with what wellbeing isn’t. When done well employee wellbeing isn’t about a series of initiatives or gimmicks or quick fixes.
It isn’t about reducing sickness absence either, all though that can be a positive consequence with a good health-based programme.
It isn’t about treating surface symptoms of stress or back ache, or other issues high up on the “causes of absence” list.
What employee wellbeing can be
Instead of these (often tokenistic) approaches, at its best, employee wellbeing becomes part of the organisational culture. It’s about the whole person and their health and wellbeing. This includes both physical and mental health.
At its most simplistic, employee wellbeing is about how you make people feel about working for you.
A healthy workplace isn’t just one in which an employer is offering wellbeing-related initiatives and programmes. It is one where there is consideration of light, space, air and basic hygiene needs. It is one where it is safe to speak up and challenge. Where people feel that they can be their real selves at work, whoever they are. It is a place of work where that must elusive of things, work-life balance, is respected and striven for.
To be truly successful at delivering wellbeing, it cannot be seen as just another (HR) project or programme, but placed at the heart of everything the organisation does. Every people-related policy or practice needs to have a consideration of wellbeing built into it.
And for some organisations, this will require a dramatic shift in terms of thinking, for leaders and HR alike.
Ultimately, employee wellbeing is about sending a message that you care. That the mental and physical health of the people that work for you is important to your organisation.
Let’s face it, why wouldn’t you? An employer that is committed to the health of its workforce tells a powerful story with a strong beginning, middle and end. At the start, it is part of why someone would want to come and work for your organisation. When you and they have made that decision, it is about ensuring people truly engage with the company while they are there, And finally, it is about why they would want to stay with you too.
A good tale to tell? Most definitely. Of course, the biggest challenge when it comes to employee wellbeing is how to do it well. How to make it happen practically; how to introduce it right throughout an organisation and make it the central part of the culture that it needs to be, every single day.
Keep your eye out for a blog coming up on that very soon!