Workplace wellbeing can be defined as ‘creating an environment that actively promotes a state of contentment, benefiting both employees and the organisation’ (CIPD, 2022). Though an intangible asset, organisational culture shapes and influences key employee decisions such as: Why should I work there? Why should I stay? Does work add to my stress or support my health and wellbeing? Do I align with my boss, the leadership team and my colleagues?
As organisations may be facing tightened budgets, challenges in attracting and retaining talent or witnessing an increase in the health and wellbeing risks impacting their employees – it is clear that perks like free snacks or subsidised gym memberships aren’t enough to create a culture of wellbeing.
Embedding wellbeing throughout your organisation from the point of recruitment, through to onboarding and day to day operations is essential. In ‘Building a culture of wellbeing that supports employee engagement‘ you’ll find 8 categories spanning important touchpoints in your organisation, and 23 practical ideas to create and sustain a culture of wellbeing that’s woven into the fabric of your organisation.
And whilst workplace wellbeing looks different for every organisation, driving cultural change requires a strategic and company-wide approach. One that:
- Fosters the environment which makes health and wellbeing at work possible
- Embeds wellbeing programmes that meet employees’ needs in a relevant way
Why a wellbeing culture unlocks business success
Employees’ wellbeing directly impacts an organisation’s drivers of success.
Improved productivity – Employees who are struggling mentally, physically or financially are less likely to be productive at work, more likely to see their performance decline, and are at greater risk of burning out.
Reduced costs related to ill health – Investing in wellbeing today can reduce health costs tomorrow. It’s more cost-effective to promote employee wellbeing than to pay for employee illness. Employees who aren’t at their best are more likely to miss work, be present but not functioning at full capacity, or go on short-term disability leave.
Talent attraction and retention – With the current talent shortage, jobseekers are spoiled for choice. This means that employers who don’t foster wellbeing in the workplace may have trouble attracting and retaining the best people, leading to a high turnover rate.
Embedding wellbeing throughout your organisation
Cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. But setting the intention to put wellbeing at the heart of your organisation starts to shift conversations to ensure that wellbeing is more than just a buzzword.
Implementing wellbeing at work touches on many aspects beyond tactical initiatives, from partnering with leadership teams, to focusing on inclusion, or demonstrating how it benefits your company and employees alike.
As with every plan, a good starting point is to understand where you are, what your unique vision for wellbeing is – based on what your company does and what it stands for – and what the gaps and implementation steps are that will get you to where you want to be.
This will help ensure you start to map out who your key stakeholders are at a leadership, middle management and employee level. It will also help you identify the frameworks, processes and initiatives that support the needs of your workforce.
8 focus areas for a human centred approach to workplace wellbeing
Through working with organisations globally, a number of themes have emerged that appear to contribute to achieving overall organisational health and wellbeing and keep workers engaged through the various touchpoints in the employee experience.
These are broken down into the following high impact areas:
- Building cultural empathy
- Building teams that align with your company’s values
- Creating memorable onboarding experiences
- Amplifying your employees’ voices
- Empowering managers to empower
- Promoting work-life balance
- Employee benefits that make a difference
- Amplifying and celebrating diversity
Practical employee-centric ideas to promote wellbeing
If you’re still wondering:
What’s the magic recipe for culture in today’s hybrid world?
How can we as an organisation help people feel valued and cared for?
Are there ways to evolve how we approach wellbeing and leverage all parts of the business?
The ‘Building a culture of wellbeing that supports employee engagement’ leadership guide looks at workplace wellbeing from a human lens and delves deeper into why each of the 8 areas are important. It also provides examples of various angles and ideas you may not have considered before and how you can implement them in your business.
Let’s take employee voice as an example.
Meeting employees’ needs in a relevant way requires their input so that areas of priority are identified and monitored over time.
This can be achieved by using different channels and methods to capture employees’ opinions, perceptions, experiences, and feedback. It also ensures that you cater to each person’s comfort level and that they are heard by your leaders.
Practical ways to bring this to life might include:
Anonymous weekly surveys – These weekly surveys allow employees to get candid about how they feel. They can rate their experience on a scale and also add additional comments that leaders can review. Keeping it anonymous means employees feel safe, but managers can still address any concerns.
Including ‘Question’ periods – At the end of company update meetings, you can invite employees to ask questions directly to senior leadership and get answers right away. These can be submitted anonymously or not, using tools like Slido. This gives employees of all levels direct access to the CEO and other executives, and shows that every voice is heard.
Being CEO for a day – Asking employees: ‘What would you do if you were CEO for the day?’ This question gives them the chance to have a say in how they work and see that their opinions matter.
To learn more about other ways to shape a culture of wellbeing at work, you can download the leadership guide here: Building a culture of wellbeing that supports employee engagement
To conclude, many factors can contribute to organisational health and wellbeing but one thing remains true is that: today’s employees expect wellbeing support from their employers, not just as a token gift, but as an integral part of work life.