Employee wellbeing may not be at the top of agenda when it comes to any business start-up, more so in times of economic difficulty. However, when we look at the concept of wellbeing and what it encompasses the picture starts to change.
Wellbeing is not just about keeping fit and eating well, it is about issues that improve performance: how people are managed on a day-to-day basis; the flow of communication between management and employees; the engagement and commitment of staff; dignity and respect at work.
These sorts of issues matter, whether you are a micro business or a large employer. When the difference between the success or failure of your business depends on your employees then investment to ensure that they are functioning optimally is crucial.
Of course, wellbeing starts with the safety basics. Knowing what the risks are to employees from the work that they do and putting measures in place to control these risks is the foundation to employee wellbeing. The absence of the safety basics will undermine any other workplace good practices. The health and safety executive website (hse.gov.uk) will give you practical steer on the best approach to managing workplaces risks.
Traditionally, employee wellbeing was seen as a bolt-on to health and safety or a nice-to-have. These days the business case for boosting productivity through a committed, fit and engaged workforce is compelling – reduced sickness absence, lower staff turnover, enhanced reputation, fewer accidents at work, increased innovation and a resilient workforce in the face of uncertainty and change.
So, where to start? The principles of good people management apply totally. That is communicate, listen, respond, communicate a bit more, then some more again. Ensure staff know what is expected of them and where they can go for support to do their job even better. Treat everyone fairly and make it clear that everyone is expected to do the same. Let them know when they are performing well.
Beyond these people management core components are issues central to overall health and wellbeing –physical activity, good nutrition, smoking cessation, limiting intake of alcohol, good quality sleep. The workplace is a setting whereby healthy lifestyles can be promoted and facilitated: encourage staff to be active – it’s good for the mind as well as the body; fly the flag for good and balanced nutrition; support those who want to give up smoking by offering access to NHS smoking cessation services; be clear that use of alcohol during the working day is not conducive to good performance in work.
As you start addressing some of these issues extract the added value by gaining recognition for what you do to boost employee wellbeing. There are award schemes across the UK that are completely free to use:
- The Workplace Wellbeing Charter www.wellbeingcharter.org.uk
- The Corporate Health Standard http://wales.gov.uk/topics/health/improvement/work/corporate/?lang=en
- Healthy Working Lives www.healthyworkinglives.com
Where employees are the most important asset, creating a healthy workplace, in the widest sense of the word, will bring rewards to any business. Healthy and happy staff perform better, bringing improved results to your bottom line – all parties benefit and in business this is as good as it gets.
Emma George is the Principal of a new start-up, Emma George Consulting, a niche HR consultancy