The five vital ingredients that should be in any wellbeing programme
Focusing on the wellbeing of employees is becoming increasingly important for employers around the world. Many do this because they care about their employees and it’s the responsible thing to do. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good business practice – after all, happy staff usually make for a more productive workforce.
So where do you start if you’re new to wellbeing or still developing your programme? What kind of things should you be thinking about?
As with any successful plan, wellbeing isn’t just about one thing. It’s about creating a flexible, balanced programme of interwoven elements. By setting up different aspects and weaving them together, you create a stronger support system for your employees.
Here are five vital ingredients you need to add into the mix, no matter where you’re based in the world:
This one is probably one of the easier elements to tackle, but it feeds into so many other areas of wellbeing. Research shows that physical activity improves mental health. For physical wellbeing, you could consider offering a discount for gym membership, setting up running groups at lunch time, offering free fruit once or twice a month, or encouraging employees to share healthy recipes. These are just a few examples of measures you could take, and some of them won’t cost you a penny.
Until recently, mental health has been something of a taboo subject, but increasingly the message is getting through that it’s okay not to be okay. Someone struggling with mental health issues may find other parts of their lives suffering too – poor physical health, trouble with their finances, problems in their relationships. To help, you could offer your employees access to an app that helps them manage their mental health. There are several on the market, not all of them carrying a cost. You can also do things like set up sessions for mindfulness, yoga or a work choir. You should also make sure your employees know they can speak freely about their issues without fear of repercussions.
This is important because people can’t be themselves at work if they don’t feel included. They may feel they have to put on a front to fit in, which is demoralising and exhausting. You should have policies in place – and stick to them – to help your people feel they can be open about their sexuality, background, beliefs, values and so on. Even things as simple as recognising and celebrating events – such as Passover, Ramadan or Pride – can make a difference in helping your employees feel included. Of course, your policies should be flexible to work in the country or countries your employees live and work in.
A poor working environment will demotivate and demoralise your workforce, negatively affecting their sense of wellbeing. If their workplace isn’t a pleasant place to be, employees will – perhaps with some justification – feel that their employer doesn’t care about them. We’re not talking about completely remodelling your premises here. Making sure your employees have a dedicated area to take a break, eat their lunch or simply make a cuppa could make all the difference.
You can put in place the best benefits in the world, but it won’t be any use unless you have a culture that gives your people the confidence to use them. Discounted gym membership is no good if your staff feel they must work all hours at full pace, with no work/life balance, too scared to say they are struggling. Building a healthy workplace culture is good for you employees and good for your business. People with good wellbeing often have a sense of purpose, greater autonomy and clear direction, which can only be a good thing.
Building a balanced global wellbeing plan needs some thought, but it doesn’t have to be full of expensive bells and whistles. You can make small changes that can make a big difference to your employees and their sense of wellbeing.
The key is to look at the elements as part of a bigger picture, not individual areas. And you can’t go far wrong by starting with these five vital ingredients for your global wellbeing programme.
The author is Debbie Bullock, UK wellbeing lead at Aviva.
This article is provided by Aviva.
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