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11 Jul 2022
by Edward Hill

6 steps in wellbeing strategy to maximise employee engagement

Making your organisation one that people want to work for is easier said than done. Here are some ways to achieve it

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With half of UK organisations lacking a health and wellbeing strategy, according to the CIPD, it’s no surprise that a Gallup survey says 80% of employees are disengaged at work. But it’s worth noting that employers who invest in physical and mental health see 52% better employee morale and engagement.

It’s clear that a wellbeing strategy is worth it. But it’s easier said than done. Addressing individual needs and taking a holistic approach to wellbeing goes beyond a monthly team social or free yoga class.

Here are six wellbeing strategy ideas to help you maximise employee experience and drive engagement in your teams:

1. Start with culture

The right culture is key to the success of your strategy. But what do we mean by culture?

Conversations about mental and physical health are a good place to start. Companies like Rolls Royce show us how, by building wellbeing strategies centred on employee discussion and involvement. As chief medical officer, David Roomes, told the Financial Times the Rolls Royce ‘live well’ programme requires every company site around the world to run a wellbeing committee. “Those divisions which perform best around wellbeing also have fewer safety concerns and higher staff engagement,” he said.

But one-off conversations aren’t enough. You need to integrate wellbeing strategies into your everyday working culture to drive success. Making conversations around mental and physical health normal is one way to build an organisation’s culture.

Giving your employees a safe space and making sure no one suffers in silence reduces the likelihood of presenteeism, reduces absence and even results in lower staff turnover.

2. Consider a health and wellbeing allowance

If you make proactive health and wellbeing more accessible, people are more likely to engage with it. Some companies offer perks like free or discounted gym membership, but slogging it out in a gym isn’t for everyone. And exercise isn’t the only way to support mental and physical health.

A strong wellbeing strategy includes a dedicated budget that each employee can use for any membership, class, facility, programme, support, or activity. Introducing a budget means that your staff have autonomy over how they spend this money.

The dating app, Hinge, for example, offers employees $200 a month to spend on dates. Eventbrite, meanwhile, gives a $60 monthly wellness stipend. And Deloitte offers employees an annual wellbeing subsidy of $500.

A huge budget isn’t necessary. Subsidise books, audible subscriptions or make it easier for home workers to request office equipment. A decent chair and office set-up can make all the difference to an employee’s health and happiness at work.

3. Make it personal

Wellbeing comes in all shapes and sizes. And so do wellbeing offerings. Where some companies may offer remote or flexible working, others may prioritise a vibrant office culture, paid-for social events and employee discounts.

The key to a strategy succeeding is not necessarily in the benefits you offer, but rather in the ways they can be personalised.

Workplace wellbeing apps like HealthHero’s Symbio, for example, offer employees a personalised and autonomous way to manage their mental and physical health at work. If an employee feels like their wellbeing offering is tailored to them, they’ll be more likely to engage with it.

4. Incorporate ‘stay’ interviews

Often, exit interviews uncover issues in the employee experience but by then you’ve already lost a valuable employee. So why wait until it’s too late?

Instead, have your HR team introduce ‘stay’ interviews. Design them as open-forum conversations and use them to focus on things like motivations, and what keeps teams interested.

5. Make (paid) volunteering a priority

Never before has it been more important for your organisation to have integral values and an important mission. Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce in 2025, according to McKinsey, and they want more from their workplace than a 9-5. They want to be part of an organisation that has values and a mission to help the world. To them, it’s not just a job. Who they work for represents who they are.

Some organisations commit to volunteering hours as part of their B Corp strategy. Birdie, an technology platform for elderly care, for example, commits to delivering a number of hours to community projects and pays employees to complete their hours.

Customer relationship management solutions firm Salesforce also offers paid volunteering opportunities. Employees say this approach to philanthropy “creates greater engagement and greater impact within our communities”.

6. Focus on your line managers

The success of a wellbeing strategy depends almost entirely on line managers. A line manager is an integral part of a high-performing team, playing a critical role in supporting staff to cope with everyday pressures. Your line managers need to have the support and training to be able to promote happiness and balance every day.

Investing in them will result in a huge pay-off for your business too. According to research by Saïd Business School, happier employees are 13% more productive. And productive companies are more profitable.

Cary Cooper, a professor of organisational psychology at Manchester University, told the Financial Times: “It’s all about the line manager. They need to have interpersonal, social and empathetic skills. In the world we are going to, there has to be a parity of people skills and technical skills for managers.”

Finally, listen to employees

An estimated 149.3 million working days were lost through sickness or injury in the UK in 2021, equivalent to 4.6 days per worker, according to The Office for National Statistics. Poor mental health was the leading cause of UK workers taking time off work.

The most important part of your strategy is that it must come from the bottom up. It requires line managers and leadership teams to hear employee concerns, validate them and act on them.

As Culture Amp, the market-leading employee experience platform, says: “The best way to build an exceptional employee experience is to listen to your employees.

Only then can you begin to address engagement concerns. And only then can you begin to build a culture that promotes positive mental and physical health.

In partnership with HealthHero

HealthHero's a digital health provider that brings together human expertise and digital convenience.

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