From fundamental ways of working like flexible hours to benefits like yoga classes, there are myriad ways you can promote wellness at work to help support your employees’ work-life balance. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to improve health and wellness in the workplace that you can introduce today.
Why is workplace wellness important?
You might think that wellness has nothing to do with work. But, on the contrary, ensuring that your employees are taking care of their well-being is not only good for their health, but it’s also good for the business.
One of the leading causes of absence at work is stress. For example. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive reports that 822,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the year 2020-2021 – that means that, for every 100,000 employees, 2,480 are suffering from stress at work.
This stress can be caused by many reasons, including workload, deadlines, salary, workplace relationships, long hours, or job insecurity.
What’s more, the number of employees taking time off work with stress in 2020-2021 is higher than those for 2018-2019, indicating that people are suffering more due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Research backs this up, with studies showing that employees in the UK who have worked from home during the pandemic have increased their working week by 25%.
And, of course, it’s not just mental health issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, with an estimated 2% of the population in the UK living with long Covid. The CIPD has found that 46% of organisations have employees who have either suffered from or are currently experiencing long Covid symptoms – with the majority of these companies taking additional steps to support their staff through this period of ill health.
Investing in your employee’s well-being, then, can help reduce rates of both absenteeism and presenteeism and improve employee engagement and productivity. It can also enhance your brand’s reputation and make you more attractive to prospective new employees.
So, how can you reap these benefits? Keep reading to discover our top workplace wellness ideas.
How to promote wellness in the workplace
Workplace wellbeing can cover every aspect of an employee’s work experience. As mentioned above, some of the key causes of stress at work are due to long hours and a heavy workplace, both of which can be addressed through fundamental changes to the way your business operates. Other ways to support health and wellbeing are supplementary, including things like massages and yoga classes.
Every business is different – and every employee is different, too. The key to creating an employee wellness programme that works for you is to ask your team members what they want. After all, they’re the ones that are going to benefit from it. Once you’ve had a consultation, draw up a strategy. You’ll be in good company – the CIPD has found that 51% of organisations in their studies take a strategic approach to employee well-being. These companies are more likely to see positive outcomes at both individual and organisational levels.
To get you started with some ideas that might suit your company, we’ve come up with ten insightful workplace wellness ideas that you might want to consider adding to your company’s policy.
Flexible working can mean many different things, but in essence, it refers to work that’s done in a way that suits an employee’s needs. This can include, among other things:
- Working from home
- Part-time hours (anything under a full-time contract, usually achieved by working fewer days)
- Job share (when two or more people share a full-time contract)
- Compressed hours (working full-time hours over fewer days)
- Flexi-time (where workers choose when they want to work, usually around set core hours such as 10 am – 2 pm)
- Staggered hours (when an employee works different start and finish times than other staff members)
Different employees value different working hours to suit their individual needs, whether that’s to fit around parental or caring duties, other part-time work, or simply to enjoy a long weekend. A recent study found that 59% of employees agreed with the statement, “I would only consider a new position or job that allows me to work from a location of my choice”, and 64% were more likely to consider a role that allows for flexible hours than one that did not.
One method of flexible working that has increased in prevalence since the pandemic is hybrid working, where employees work some of the time from an office and part of the time from home. This approach not only benefits your employees by ensuring they can work in the environment that suits them best, but it can also support your company when it comes to finding new staff members.
By renting out satellite offices or offering coworking spaces, you’ll be able to appeal to a broader talent pool than if you require all employees to work from your headquarters. And with the high-speed internet available in our office spaces, your teams will stay connected as easily as if they were all in the same location.
Consider your office design
Some people thrive in an open plan office, whilst others need the peace and quiet of a private office to perform at their best. When choosing an office space, you should consider its layout to ensure you have everyone’s needs covered. Consider renting an office that has a mixture of breakout zones and private office rooms so that your team can work wherever will help them thrive.
Focus on stress
As stress is one of the major causes of work-related absences, it’s a good idea to give your staff the tools and education they need to support themselves through periods of stress. This could involve training for both managers and staff to enable them to spot the signs of stress and coping mechanisms for dealing with it, staff surveys to address the root causes of stress, and stress risk assessments. You may also want to consider offering support through an Employee Assistance Programme and occupational health.
Mental health initiatives
There are many things that you can do as an employer to support your employees’ mental health. You may want to make it clear that you treat mental health in the same way as any other health issue. Some employers even offer mental health days where employees can take the day off, no questions asked, if they’re not feeling up to working. Others prefer to address the root cause by offering support through Employee Assistance Programmes and counselling.
If a staff member is off with stress, depression, or anxiety, you may want to offer a phased return to work when they’re ready to come back to ensure they ease back into their role without any added stress. Another option to consider is training some staff members as mental health first aiders. This means they’re better able to spot the signs and symptoms of poor mental health in their colleagues – but it’s important to note that they’re not trained therapists.
Your staff may also find it helpful if you offer training around coping techniques, such as resilience or mindfulness. These types of training courses can give staff the tools they need to weather the storm if they begin to feel stressed, either at work or in their home life.
Free or subsidised gym membership is a great way to encourage your team to stay active – and if you have hybrid workers, you can offer them the option to choose a gym that’s close to either their home or office for added flexibility. Or, even better, you could choose an office space with a gym in the building, like this stylish office in London’s Mayfair.
Many people missed the social aspect of office life when working from home during the pandemic. It’s important not to let social events slip, even if you have a hybrid or largely remote team, to ensure that your team still has a chance to get to know their colleagues better outside of a work context. Consider appointing a social committee to find out what social events their teammates would like to attend, with a subsidised budget from the business to allow as many people as possible to attend.
The budget for social events is important as a major cause of stress for many staff is money worries. One in four employees report that stress about money affects their ability to do their job, and one in eight workers in the UK live in poverty – even before the cost of living crisis.
Financial wellbeing at work can cover everything from regular reviews of your pay structure and benefits, to offering debt counselling or financial coaching.
Does your office have a break room? What about a recreational area, where employees can roll out their yoga mat, read a book, or play some table football? When looking at your office space, this is another thing you might want to consider to ensure that your team has somewhere to get away from their desks whenever they need it.
When you eat well, you feel better. Encourage your employees to grab a piece of fruit from a weekly delivered fruit basket, or offer a free breakfast for staff to enjoy before they sit down at their desk for the day.
Remind your team to take their breaks, whether it’s quickly popping out to get a coffee when they need it or taking a full lunch hour. Studies show that a third of employees don’t leave their workplace after arriving in the morning, and more than half don’t take their full lunch break, citing having too many tasks to do as the reason.
However, we all know that getting out for a quick walk works wonders for clearing your head and boosting energy. So, encourage your staff to take their breaks. You could even build regular team lunches into the social budget to ensure that everyone takes their full lunch break at least on a weekly or monthly basis.
Are you ready to improve your health and well-being programme? Why not start by reviewing your office space – you can filter a search for an Easy Office by facilities, including an on-site gym, showers, bike racks and breakout spaces, so you can find the perfect set-up to suit your needs.