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How adopting a robust wellbeing strategy in the workplace can positively impact productivity

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With the spotlight on wellbeing at work only increasing, there’s an opportunity for us all to examine our own organisation’s wellbeing strategies.

Wellbeing and work are often seen at opposite ends of the spectrum; “If only I could work less and do more of the things that really matter.” But Gallup’s recent analysis of employee burnout found that it was how people experience their workload that had a greater influence on burnout than how many hours they work.

At its best work creates the conditions for people to thrive, at its worst it creates disengaged, demotivated, often disenfranchised employees.

So what can a strong, consistent, wellbeing strategy do for employee retention, business efficiency, and the value and reputation of an organisation?

The cost of employee wellbeing versus the cost of neglecting it

  • $322 billion, the cost globally in employee turnover and lost productivity.

  • $20 million of opportunity loss for every 10,000 workers due to low wellbeing and its drain on performance.

  • Presenteeism and absenteeism costs the UK economy £79 billion every year, both of these can be reduced with improved wellbeing in the workplace.

So you can see the cost of neglecting work wellbeing is significant, the cost of a companywide wellbeing strategy however doesn’t have to cost the earth. In fact, businesses would be wise to consider the most accessible and affordable ways to promote it. Of course, there are traditional wellbeing benefits such as health insurance, gym memberships, and dental care for example but there are many low cost or even free techniques to improve and maintain wellbeing in the workplace. Suggestions include:

  • Make sure everyone knows their strength – a strength based strategy from attraction and onboarding to engagement and performance leads to a culture of high development.

  • Move away from micromanagement Empower your employees to do their job.

  • Upskill managers to move them from boss to coach.

  • Make wellbeing part of career development conversations.

But the power of recognition to amplify wellbeing cannot be ignored and what’s more, it’s free.

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Recognition amplifies wellbeing

The very simple practice of recognising an employee for the work they have done can impact their sense of wellbeing significantly. It is seen to propel an employee to thrive, lift their spirits, shield them from burnout and magnify their social wellbeing.

A report by Workhuman and Gallup “Amplifying Wellbeing at work and beyond through the power of recognition" found that employees that are recognised at work are up to 10 times as likely to strongly agree that they belong at their organisation.

Building a culture of recognition is a key strategy and one that enriches employee wellbeing. According to Gallup employees that felt that they had been given the right amount of recognition for their work are 84% more likely to be thriving. Interestingly those employees that had been given recognition were as much as twice as likely to be thriving. So it seems that both giving and receiving recognition can positively impact our wellbeing.

Productivity: A measure of employee output

There’s a direct correlation between high levels of workplace wellbeing and higher productivity and happiness.

A whitepaper by Gympass found that a sense of wellbeing resulted in 31% higher productivity and 59% greater loyalty.

An employee feeling unwell mentally or physically will struggle to concentrate, will be distracted, will make mistakes, and essentially just go through the motions, creating under performance and low productivity.

Interestingly Gallup found that engaged employees with job flexibility actually worked more hours than the average employee but still reported higher wellbeing. Demonstrating that if one feels motivated, inspired and supported at work they will want to do more of it without the negative health impacts of those that don’t.

The Workplace Wellbeing Index

Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity has found that as many as 1 in 6 workers experience mental health problems at work. Their research shows that work is the biggest cause of stress in their lives.

To help employers celebrate the good work they are doing to support mental wellbeing in the workplace or to enable support to businesses that need to provide better mental wellbeing they have created the Workplace Wellbeing Index, perhaps now is the time to benchmark your business’ wellbeing programme. Workplace wellbeing enquiry - Mind

A Happy workforce = A Productive workforce

Wellbeing creates a feeling of satisfaction and happiness, according to Forbes happy employees are more productive because they feel valued.

So, a final word on employee wellbeing. A well thought out strategy that considers both an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing will create a more motivated, more loyal, more engaged, healthier workforce, which ultimately leads to greater productivity, higher staff retention, reduced costs, and a great employer brand.