What To Consider When Implementing Wellbeing Strategies
Whether your company is a startup or well established, the word “wellbeing” is likely to have come up in discussions about employee management. Giants such as Google, Apple and Netflix have taken the lead on this, setting a vital precedent on employers’ approach to employee wellbeing.
Now more than ever, it’s accepted that an effective wellbeing strategy can improve employee retention, boost productivity and improve workplace morale.
Whether you are handling these processes internally, or through the help of HR consultancy services, it is important to remember, however, that without the taking the time to prepare and plan, your wellbeing strategies may not prove as effective as you’d like.
By considering the practicalities of specific wellbeing programmes, you’ll be far more likely to create initiatives that will benefit your business.
As with any successful business strategy, wellbeing initiatives need to be measured carefully and precisely in order to assess its impact. Establishing what it is that you’re trying to improve – and determining how you can measure this – can make the difference between a successful strategy and a waste of time and money.
You can seek to improve any number of measurables, such as:
- Increasing staff productivity (dependent on your industry and output)
- Reducing the amount of time taken absences that are due to illness
- Increasing staff retention/reducing turnover
- Improving overall employee satisfaction
The way these are measured will vary. You might, for instance, utilise staff surveys to measure employee satisfaction, running these every three months for a defined period of time. You could use HR software like BreatheHR to measure the number of ill health related absences days taken on an individual or company-wide basis, and track how this changes over a period of weeks, months or even years.
There’s no limit to the variety of reporting metrics, but having a clearly defined set of goals, outcomes and metrics is crucial. Wellbeing can seem like an abstract concept, but once you have established the ‘deliverables’, you’ll be able to implement a focussed and effective strategy.
Before you invest any time or money into a wellbeing programme, you should consider conducting research to determine which wellbeing programmes would most benefit your staff and business. This will depend on employee preference, as well as the goals you have in mind.
Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can gauge employee opinion in order to narrow down your initiative choices. These include:
- Online questionnaires
- Open seminars
- Online forums (for industry relevant discussions and feedback)
Once you have established the kinds of wellbeing programmes favoured by your staff, it will be easier to define a budget and a plan to implement them. You’ll also be able to proceed confident in the knowledge that the tactics you implement have the full support of your team, and any subsequent communication plan will be met with minimal resistance.
Choosing your programmes
Employment wellness schemes have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and there are a wealth of options to choose from.
Choosing the right method for your workplace will vary from business to business, but the types of schemes that are available to you include:
- In-house: In-house programmes will often be overseen by appointed and trained staff members such as Mental Health First Aiders
- Teachers or other specialists: For wellness programmes that require specialist knowledge, such as mindfulness, yoga or sports classes, or providing wellness checks for staff it may be necessary to partner with local providers.
- Third party: Businesses which lack the expertise to oversee wellbeing strategies may choose to enlist the advice or guidance of dedicated HR specialists, who can curate and implement bespoke programmes.
These methods don’t need to be exclusive. Wellbeing strategies come with a degree of flexibility to suit the needs of your business, so cherry-picking aspects from various strategies is a legitimate way to provide a more well-rounded approach.
Consider your limitations
With so many different wellbeing strategies out there for employers to choose from, incorporating one may not always be practically or financially feasible, even if the idea is popular amongst your staff.
Chiefly, you’ll need to think about the practical implications of running the programmes you choose to implement. Limitations can vary and will depend on your business, but some fundamental factors include:
- Spatial limitations: Popular wellness schemes such as meditation or yoga classes may not be possible if you lack the space to implement them. In these cases, separate venues would need to be hired and budgeted for, which may not be possible for every business.
- Budget: As tempting as it may be to overspend on the most popular or best-reviewed wellbeing schemes, budgeting is vital, especially if your goal is to reduce costs. Wellness strategies don’t have to cost the earth in order to be effective; the Cycle to Work Scheme is one example which offers financial benefits and discounts for employers.
- Lack of expertise: Not all employers will have a well-rounded knowledge of wellbeing strategies, and not all businesses will have access to the resources or experience to develop one. In some cases, external consultants may be necessary to provide the right guidance.
The link between physical and mental wellbeing
With a growing awareness of the benefits of strategies such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation, it can be easy to forget that wellbeing is not purely about the mind. It has been widely proven that there is a strong correlation between our physical and mental health, and vice versa.
Implementing plans that place an emphasis on both of these issues should be a priority when choosing the right strategies for your business.
Examples of wellbeing strategies include:
- Encouraging regular breaks: Encouraging employees to take a break may sound counterproductive, but a short break can improve concentration, help staff cope with stress and improve long term productivity.
- Healthy eating: Every business, regardless of industry, can introduce healthy eating into the workplace. Whether it takes the form of free meals or healthy snacks, good nutrition is an effective way to improve both physical and mental health.
- Fitness initiatives: Fitness initiatives do not have to be limited to a gym membership. Encouraging your staff to walk or cycle to work in exchange for perks can be just as effective in motivating them to be more active. Organising regular fitness classes can also encourage physical activity, whilst providing the added benefit of group-based activity that can improve employee relations.
- Wellness checks: Whether it’s providing mental and physical health checks for your staff or allowing them time to attend these checks during work hours, the availability of specialist help can help to prevent long-term health issues.
While not every business needs or can afford to implement all of these measures, they should give you some goals to aspire to. By conducting the appropriate research and making practical arrangements before you implement any wellbeing strategies, you can be sure that you are spending your time wisely, and that your staff will be receiving the help, care and resources they need.
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