Why wellbeing needs to be at the top of the business agenda
5th November 2021
Pre-pandemic, wellbeing was something that could easily be pushed to the bottom of the agenda.
Now, as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are realising that the health and wellbeing of their workforce is vital. It is, perhaps, one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic, as leaders recognise the need to discuss and tackle any wellbeing related issues.
However, a new study by WellWise has revealed that levels of workplace wellbeing are not improving, and, in many areas are getting worse. Exacerbated by the ‘always-on’ culture, which has become a particular problem as more people work from home, burnout is something many employees are suffering from. It is thought that the costs associated with turnover and lower productivity because of burnout could be as high as £225 billion annually.
So, what can be done about this? How can leaders make changes that will really support their workforce’s wellbeing? And why is this so important?
At MovePlan, we work with clients to support them through change, whether that be an office relocation, adopting a new hybrid working model, or bringing workers back to the office. Our team are experts in engaging and communicating with people to ensure that any implementation of change is smooth and stress-free.
The importance of wellbeing
MovePlan’s Global Development Director, Lindsay Peters, explains why focusing on wellbeing is always vital, not just during a period of change.
“If you look at statistics around staff retention, if people aren’t happy, they will go elsewhere,” she explained, adding: “If their mental health isn’t being looked after it impacts everything, including productivity. If your staff are not starting the day ready to work, they are not being their most productive.”
Research we recently carried out in partnership with international headhunting consultancy Hanson Search, backs this up. Hanson Search polled more than 1,000 employees and business leaders with the aim of better understanding what employees want from their future workplace. It found that a huge 45% regarded team, people, and culture as a priority when choosing a role, over and above competitive salaries and benefits.
Where to start?
Lindsay suggested that the first step should be to identify the needs of your workforce.
“First, you have to understand your workplace culture,” she explained. “So, you need to consider how people are working and adjust your approach. It’s finding the right way to connect with employees, particularly if you have a combination of people working on site and remotely. You might have to adapt your engagement style to find out how someone is feeling.”
At MovePlan, our global approach was to invest in a new app, which provides premium content to employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering calming facilitators such as meditation, music, and sleep tips. Our teams are widely dispersed across multiple time zones with a wide variety of different projects and clients, which is why an app works well for their needs.
This has been complemented with the introduction of wellbeing champions within each global region, there to encourage dialogue among our local teams who organise global monthly wellness themes to focus on in addition to quarterly global challenges.
Lindsay emphasised that there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach: “We have all had to deal with the pandemic and it forced everyone into a situation beyond their control. However, we are all dealing with it in different ways. We are all different and it’s important to know where your people are and how they are dealing with it. The first step is to talk to them.”
Engaging and talking with staff is crucial to developing a wellbeing action plan, which will differ from one company to the next depending on individual needs.
“We had one client who held a walking challenge,” explained Lindsay, adding: “They had bands to calculate their steps and they organised teams of six to eight people who competed against each other over 100 days. They also invited their contractors to become involved.”
Another client offered its staff a ‘free day’ whereby they could choose to take a day off to do whatever they wanted, giving them a morale boost, and making them feel valued by their employer.
Why wellbeing can’t be ignored
While most business leaders are realising that wellbeing needs to be a priority, those ignoring or applying an initiative that does not resonate with their employees will have a detrimental impact on business.
Recalling a statement she recently heard at a virtual learning session, Lindsay said the message had stuck with her: “They said when you are hungry, you eat. When you are thirsty, you have a drink. But when you are lonely or stressed you go into yourself and don’t ask for help.” Managers, therefore, must look for indirect cues that someone might not express directly.
“You can’t ignore wellbeing. The signs will be there. It might be productivity waning or that someone is no longer engaged and not checking in as often. Leaders need to look for the signs.”