What is employee wellbeing at the workplace?
Employee wellbeing includes everything related to our working lives, from the organisation of work to workplace environment and safety and health questions. Employee wellbeing measures aim at creating safe and healthy workplaces, improve employee engagement and satisfaction, as well as achieving greater organisational performance.
Today, there is a much greater understanding and use of holistic wellbeing programmes at many workplaces. At the same time, there is still an implementation gap between organisational safety and wellbeing recommendations and workplace practices. We, at the WorkLife HUB - tapping into the latest research findings, case studies and workplace practices - have been supporting organisations for many years now in designing and implementing employee wellbeing programmes. Our work focuses on making employees benefit from such arrangements and how line managers can advocate for their importance.
Why is employee wellbeing important?
Research has repeatedly pointed out that experiencing a higher level of wellbeing at work is often associated with a number of positive organisational attitudes as well. These include, for example, increased levels of productivity and performance at work, lower absenteeism or employee turnover, and greater engagement at work.
Recent decades have seen the health of employees change with many employees being increasingly exposed to psychosocial risks at work such as conflicting demands and role clarity, excessive workload or poorly managed organisational change programmes. Prolonged exposure to these risks tends to contribute to a lower level of wellbeing, increased stress levels, burnout, or, even cardiovascular or musculoskeletal problems.
What improves employee health and wellbeing?
Workplace health and wellbeing programmes have, traditionally, concentrated on occupational health and safety measures with the objective of reducing the possibility for employees to get injured or harmed. Based on the positive findings of the last 10-15 years of research, that looked into the impact of organisations taking a greater role in supporting their employees’ wellbeing, employers have been actively promoting and setting up workplace wellbeing initiatives. The positive impact of such programmes has been communicated repeatedly throughout the years as they tend to contribute to increases in productivity and reduced absenteeism.
What are the components of employee wellbeing efforts and where can we support you?
Besides the establishment of official policies and the running employee assistance programmes, what exactly is in play when it comes to the effectiveness of such initiatives? Below are the components and resources that can contribute to an organizational environment where employee wellbeing can flourish. Based on our experience in working with different organisations these factors might include the following:
A culture that supports the psychosocial needs of employees emerges as a significant factor in how employees perceive their wellbeing. In such workplace cultures, the link between organisational success and wellbeing must be clearly articulated, employees at all levels of the organisation must be engaged, or the impact of such initiatives are measured
Flexible working arrangements allow employees to create their own work schedules that fit with their job tasks, workload and personal commitments.
The role of managers is one of the most often overlooked aspects of running effective employee wellbeing initiatives. Their role in promoting and supporting employee wellbeing programmes is indispensable. Their involvement should focus on being a role model or supporting employees with the take up of wellbeing programmes, but also include a focus on workload management, goal setting or feedback.