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04 Jul 2022
by Debbie Bullock

Why DE&I is so important to employee wellbeing

Employees want to feel a true sense of belonging and know they are valued for who they are and what they bring

6 key points to consider when developing a wellbeing strategy.jpg 1

 

We all deserve the opportunity to work in a safe, supportive, inclusive environment and have a voice on matters that affect us. Our health is likely to suffer if we feel excluded or discriminated against or if our wellbeing needs are neglected.

Diversity has a huge bearing on wellbeing. If we feel included and valued, our wellbeing is likely to improve. When employers celebrate, encourage and value the expression of our unique identity in the workplace, our self-esteem and integrity are supported. Consequently, inclusive workplaces have workers who are psychologically well-adjusted and secure.

Moreover, employees with high levels of wellbeing are often more inclusive themselves. If we have a strong sense of belonging and community, we’re likely to build strong connections with others, helping buffer stress and support wellbeing.

An inclusive approach to health and wellbeing

Workplace wellbeing is delivered through three areas – personal desire, reward and benefits and the culture of an organisation. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity and Inclusion (DE&I) are part of that culture. If you can’t be your true self at work, in an inclusive environment, without fear of stigma, you are likely to have poor wellbeing, which won’t be fixed by benefits (although you may need intervention support).

From an ESG perspective, being a sustainable organisation includes looking after your employees, including their wellbeing. An organisation’s policies that underpin culture, also link to wellbeing.

Inclusive workplaces make reasonable adjustments to workloads/schedules to help improve work-life balance and support employees managing health concerns. They recognise where there are stigmas and take positive action to ensure individuals aren’t judged, penalised or discriminated against. And they recognise the individual needs of their people – for example, the importance of a father’s role in bonding with a child by granting paternity leave, or the significance of the family as carers for the elderly or less abled.

Key points to consider in your wellbeing strategy

1. Everyone has individual and changing health needs. An inclusive health strategy identifies and considers these diverse needs. Key areas could be mental health, fertility, menopause, men’s health, and neurodiversity.

2. Avoid making assumptions about health and wellbeing. Everyone is individual and views may differ. It’s important to consider differences between demographics, cultures and communities.

3. Your wellbeing strategy should be people focused. Gaining input and feedback from different groups needs to be a continuous process and people need to know challenge is welcomed and suggestions acted upon. 

4. Team leaders need the tools, knowledge and confidence to have conversations and support employee wellbeing. They play a crucial role in how employees feel on a day-to-day basis and need to be aligned to the company’s position on wellbeing, DE&I and ESG. Otherwise, individuals will see a disconnection between what the company says and how employees feel.

5. Your communications, like the support itself, should reflect the diversity of the workplace. Consider different communications methods and tailor messaging to reflect considerations such as gender-specific and non-binary issues – bearing in mind the changing needs of people at different life stages. Encouraging peer-to-peer communication is crucial.

6. Storytelling is powerful in helping to encourage open, honest conversations and inclusive behaviours. Encourage people to share their stories if they feel comfortable – leaders as well as people from other levels, so you can demonstrate that no-one should be afraid to show their vulnerabilities.

The most important thing to remember is that DE&I should be part of your culture, not a one-off project. Every employee needs to know they can work in an open, inclusive environment, free to be themselves with reliable support from colleagues and leaders.

For more on this important topic, join us this Thursday at 10am for our webinar on structuring employee benefits to support DEI.

In partnership with Aviva plc

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