Wellbeing at work: it’s important

In recent years, the workplace has seen an increased focus on employee wellbeing, with companies investing in activities and services to keep staff healthier for longer.

As a small business, soft expenses such as this can seem daunting in the face of more urgent costs. In your first year of operation, it is easy to put health on the backburner in favour of securing your position. Try not to ignore wellbeing: with businesses of all sizes, it pays to have valued and supported employees.

For one thing, healthier staff work harder and if your employees are happy, they’ll also work smarter. It’s a tempting proposal, if difficult to get right. But while implementing a programme can be intimidating, there are a few ground rules you should follow to create and maintain a successful workplace wellbeing system.

Nominate a champion for the cause

As with many other aspects of business practice, involving too many people in decision-making can cause projects to fail to get off the ground. This can be circumvented by choosing one or two people to take ownership of the programme. Normally, the best people to own workplace wellbeing are your HR staff, but in a small business where many people work multiple roles, it’s also appropriate to give this responsibility to C-level staff.

Making sure there is a clear point of contact for revisions, feedback and finance means your plan starts with a champion already on board.

Ask what your staff want

As discussions around productivity turn more to health and motivation over hours worked and dedication, asking your staff what they want is a key ingredient in implementing any wellbeing strategy. Workplace motivation and its impact cannot be underestimated: engage your workforce in the topic, and they will tell you what they want to see change. Ask sensitive questions about the following topics:

  • Current health habits, including general information about diet and exercise
  • If the workplace set up can support either of these things
  • Knowledge about healthy lifestyles and barriers to change
  • Which activities they’d like to participate in at work
  • How can these be put in place at work?
  • Discussion around the mental demands of the job, and any perceived problems
  • Working relationships
  • General levels of support and preparation offered to staff members

Once you have compiled the answers, you should have a clearer idea of the issues and improvements your employees want to see you work with. Is the job sedentary, with staff wanting more time to move around? Are there issues with support from senior staff?

When you know the problems your staff face, your plans for wellbeing activities in the workplace can incorporate these from the word go. And with the Workplace Wellbeing Charter finding that 79% of staff have made or would consider making changes to their lifestyle based on workplace help and advice, this can have a real impact on your employees beyond working hours.

Consider the challenges faced by your industry

Not all jobs have the same pressures. By this virtue, not all workplace wellbeing strategies should be the same, as what works for one sector will not address the issues faced by another. As a small business owner, you should have a thorough grasp on the challenges presented by your industry.

For many office-based companies, problems arise in wellbeing at work with cramped conditions, poor space planning, and a lack of ergonomic furniture. We’ve covered the advantages offered by having well-thought-out interior design in the office before, including suggestions like creating a green office space, encouraging collaboration, and inspiring smart use of space.

If you think you’d struggle to create that atmosphere in a workspace you own, or need a more flexible approach to an office, our serviced office spaces are designed with wellbeing in mind. When the workspace itself is built around supporting your staff, the business can move on to make a plan that tackles the problems that result from industry pressures.

Be prepared to revise

You’ve appointed your officer, talked with staff, and created a strategy that addresses the challenges presented by your industry. Once your workplace wellbeing plan has been put into place, the next stage in the process is revising that plan, because it is unlikely to be perfect in its first iteration.

New issues arise with the changing nature of the workforce, and what works for the first year of a business might not be suitable for the next. And on paper, plans to encourage exercise classes and use them to boost a healthy lifestyle might look good, but if you’ve misjudged the level of engagement with the plan, then it isn’t going to take off.

Adapting and changing workplace wellbeing strategies to ensure they meet your business needs is crucial to making them effective. Set up regular meetings with the officer in charge: how often is up to the dynamic nature of the industry you operate in.

Most importantly, ask for staff feedback, and make sure it is incorporated into plans going forward.

Make workplace wellbeing scalable

The end goal of many startups and small businesses is to grow larger, whether that is in operations or simply profit. However, thoughts about the health and happiness of employees should remain core to any increase in size.

As mentioned, what works for the first year isn’t likely to suit once you have moved beyond the setting up phase, and employee wellbeing changes with the differing pressures of a mature company versus a startup. To this end, any activities should be made with an increase of scope in mind. This has two factor benefits: it avoids any change in routine likely to disturb workplace motivation, and it provides the opportunity to promote real, long term change in the lifestyle of staff.

The question of how to improve wellbeing at work is one which all conscientious business owners should be asking. Make sure you’ve researched, developed, and instigated a plan that does what your staff need it to, and reap the benefits of an engaged, healthy workforce.

 

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