As employers are becoming more conscious of the needs of their employees, the business case for wellbeing at the office gets clearer and clearer. We know that healthier people are not only happier, but also more productive - and that’s without even starting to talk about the benefits for talent attraction and retention, an issue that is a huge concern for businesses, or potentially reducing sick days by 75%!
According to a recent study from yulife and Hymans Robertson, 79% of people said work had an overall positive impact on their sense of wellbeing. But how can HR professionals and business owners like yourself optimise their wellbeing schemes and improve the health of their employees? The first step is always to listen to what it is that your people actually want.
1. They want a balanced approach to health
Some of your employees are really good at making time to go to the gym every day, whilst some of them know how to disconnect and relax. So, caring for only one side of your people’s wellbeing might be a bit of a hit and miss.
The truth is, all of us need balance in our lives. If we have the perfect diet but struggle to get our 8-hours a night, we’re not necessarily helping ourselves. Your employees are no different.
By helping your employees with simple steps to improve their wellbeing in every aspect - mental, physical, financial and social - you’re not only guaranteeing that all of them can relate to at least some of what you’re doing (after all, nobody’s perfect), but also maintaining their health in a more holistic way.
There are many ways that you can support your employees with this. For example:
- Encourage mindfulness in the office
- Go on walking meetings instead of stepping into the boardroom
- Turn off your team’s work emails after work hours
The main takeaway is that it’s better to spread your efforts over a wider range, than be focusing them on one of the Four Pillars alone. As 53% of people would always choose an employer which positively contributes to their mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing, even if it meant earning less money, you’ll make back your investment.
2. They want to work for a purposeful company
Nobody wants to work for a company that does something they’re morally opposed to - but apparently, employees are also not keen on companies that don’t have values at all. Employees nowadays are looking for a company that’s on a mission to do better, and that includes practising what you preach.
By showing your employees what they’re doing has a greater meaning, a positive impact on the world, you’ll help them feel happier and more accomplished.
A great way to do that is through charity work and events. Our customers at Hymans Robertson, for example, did the Three Peaks Challenge and donated their money they raised.
3. They want to feel appreciated
People like feeling appreciated. It makes them feel like someone is recognising their efforts, and makes them feel more engaged in their work. 81% of employees reported they were motivated to work harder when their boss showed appreciation for their work!
Gratitude was also proven to reduce stress, which is especially helpful in the context of the workplace.
Try to tell your employees when they’re doing a good job and avoid only critiquing them when they’ve done something wrong. You can also build in gratitude into your workday - at yulife, we have a weekly meeting that includes shoutouts from colleagues. It makes the employees feel welcome and cared for, by their employer, but also by their teammates.
4. They want to be immersed in a culture of wellbeing
Although we’re all for giving as much help as possible, there’s only so much you can do. The real trick to making sure your employees are as supported as possible on their wellbeing journey, is to give them the tools to do that themselves - but also, creating an office culture that promotes wellbeing and encourages each other to do more.
Ever heard of peer pressure? Even though it’s normally used to describe bad influence, it can be used for good. By making sure everyone at the office is conscious of their wellbeing, you’re making your impact bigger than the sum of its parts: you’re creating an energy that motivates your colleagues. After all, nobody became ripped because their employer told them they should - but another employee asking you to go on a walk after lunch might just get you off your chair.
The point is, people are more likely to do something if everyone around them does it too - all you need to do is plant the seed.
Our Chief Wellbeing Officer, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, gave a great example at our latest event with him. He gave a speech at a publishing company, and asked the employees to take the stairs at least once a day. Not only did the employees do it - but they also kept on doing it for months later! That’s because they’ve been supported and motivated by one another.
5. They want to invest less but maximise gains
Another blocker your people may have is a bit of a touchy subject: money.
As their employer, you’re their main supplier of income, which is obviously a huge thing you’re doing to help them with that. But they’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed, so their wellbeing is not necessarily their top priority. That’s where you can come in and help them.
We’ve already covered some of the free things your employees can do - we’re big fans of walking in nature, for instance. So it would be good to encourage them to do all of these things.
But you can also support them in other ways. It can be registering into a bike scheme and helping them finance their new bicycle, provide discounts for gym memberships, put up fruit bowls at the office, or get a weekly healthy lunch for everyone. It doesn’t have to be big - just a nudge that will make it more economical for them moving forward.
6. They want something simple
As you know too well, your employees are busy people. They don’t have time to waste on learning new complex regimens and incomprehensible tools they’ve never touched before.
Luckily for us, we live in a digital age. What this means is that they have little devices that can basically do everything, in their pockets, all day, every day. It’s their phones. We’re talking about their phones.
Some of them will even have wearable devices such as the Apple Watch or a Fitbit to help them. So it seems futile to try and convince them to go to the gym when they can watch a Youtube video that will teach them a new workout routine anywhere in the world, or get in some steps before lunchtime. Instead of slowly teaching them to be one with their inner selves, why not introduce them to a mindfulness app?
The keyword is simplicity. It’s better to facilitate an imperfect thing that will be easy for them to do (and keep up), than something perfect they won’t do more than once. It can never be a hassle - this is why we’re always promoting simple steps.
The yulife app does exactly that. Living in your employees’ pockets, the app rewards them for being well. By taking part in simple healthy activities, such as walking or meditating, your people will earn yucoin - the wellbeing currency - which they can then exchange for Avios air miles and gift cards from brands like ASOS and Amazon.
The app works with mechanisms your people will be familiar with: they’ll progress through levels, complete healthy streaks, and compete on your company leaderboard. All of this comes with our company life insurance policies, so your team will also know their loved ones are protected no matter what - for the same price as your old company life insurance.
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