Promoting Workplace Wellbeing

November 23, 2021

As we come closer to the end of another year, it is often a time that people use to reflect on both their personal and professional accomplishments achieved over the course of the year. While a primary outcome of reflection results in setting new goals for oneself, this year it may also include looking for a new job with an employer that can meet the ongoing daily struggles they face. As the pandemic continues, it has left many in the workforce struggling with general and workplace wellbeing. Struggles affecting their mental health and contributing to burnout include unsustainable workload, the absence of a supportive community, and growing disengagement. It is now more important than ever that employers look at ways to promote employee health and wellbeing.

What is workplace wellbeing?

Workplace wellbeing describes both physical and mental states while an employee is at work. Physical wellbeing in the workplace could involve the temperature in the office, the ergonomics of a chair, or an employee’s activity level. Mental wellbeing covers areas like stress, depression, or anxiety. For many people, physical and mental wellbeing go hand in hand and are intertwined. It seems logical that an employer’s natural tendency would be to separate the personal and professional struggles in the workplace. However, it is important to note that how a person feels, both mentally and physically, can have an enormous effect on their relationships with coworkers and on the volume of their output.

Why is workplace wellbeing so important?

It should come as no surprise that healthy, happy employees are more productive and valuable to any organization. Companies are realizing that recognizing their employees as whole complex individuals as opposed to just cogs in a wheel that perform essential functions for the organization, can lead to positive outcomes for both parties.

How can an employer benefit from implementing a workplace wellbeing program?

Employers evaluating and implementing workplace wellbeing programs demonstrate to employees that their needs are recognized and valued, which leads to increased productivity, goodwill, and collaboration.

How can an employer evaluate workplace wellbeing?

Start by asking what this means in your organization and how you can measure it. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by asking your employees questions through a survey! Exploring how your employees feel about the organization and whether they are satisfied with their place in it would be a great place to begin.

Below are some questions to help get you started:

  • How do they feel about work today?
  • Would they recommend the organization to friends as an employer of choice?
  • Do they feel excited about coming to work?
  • Are they proud to work for the organization?
  • Do they enjoy working with their team?
  • Do they find their work meaningful?
  • Does the vision and mission of the organization inspire them?
  • Are they recognized for their accomplishments at work?
  • Do they feel like their supervisor is invested in their success?
  • Does the organization foster a comfortable and supportive work environment?
  • Is leadership invested in and contributing to the organization’s culture initiatives?

In addition, determining whether your employees plan to stay with your organization in the short or long term is a critical part of any employee survey. If you have any concerns about your top talent leaving your organization these additional questions could be good focal points.

  • Do you see yourself working here in a year?
  • Does your work challenge you and aid your development?
  • Do you see a path for career advancement?
  • Do you have the tools needed to maximize your potential here?
  • Have you recently thought about leaving?
  • Has anyone at the company asked about and expressed support for your career goals?
  • What practices do we need to change?
  • Are there any problems with our organization’s culture?
  • How can we help improve employee engagement at work?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share that you find important to your employee experience?

Using survey data to improve employee wellbeing

The key takeaway is that if you do decide to collect this information from your employees the organization must be prepared to act on the feedback received, otherwise you run the risk of disempowerment. Therefore, developing small actions that will result in incremental changes should be your primary focus initially. For example, ensuring that every employee understands what they do matters in your organization and how it impacts the people that your organization serves could be a good starting point. It is also a great opportunity to clarify your mission and vision and help your employees see how what they do fulfills that purpose.

What activities can help encourage employees to get involved with improving their wellbeing?

Fostering an environment that encourages teamwork through regular relationship-building helps improve employee wellbeing and can continue to emphasize that the organization values its employees.

Sample activity ideas to help you get started:

  • Get employees up and moving around by conducting walking meetings
  • Conduct weekly gratitude sessions
  • Facilitate team-building days/sessions
  • Host weekly healthy lunch potlucks with recipes swaps
  • Host team fitness challenges and offer incentives
  • Offer educational programs on diet, food preparation and portion control
  • Offer paid volunteer opportunities
  • Offer flexible working hours 
  • Offer learning and development opportunities like lunch and learn sessions
  • Offer mentorship opportunities

As discussed, the overall well-being of a person directly impacts an organization in many ways. The average cost of a sick day is around $200. Employees with high levels of wellbeing are sick less often which results in lower costs for the organization. Engaged teams have less absenteeism, lower turnover, and fewer workplace injuries. Therefore, it is no wonder that employee wellbeing has become a strategic focus for many organizations because of the correlation between increased employee engagement and an improved bottom line. So, I leave you with one final thought – do you want to be an employer of choice or the employer to avoid?

Need more assistance with implementing an effective Workplace Wellbeing program? Please don’t hesitate to contact our team of HR experts who can help you create a program tailored to your organization.