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01 Apr 2020

How an inclusive wellbeing strategy can improve employee experience

Employee experience. Somewhat of a buzzword for HR professionals right now – and for good reason. After all, people are a business’ greatest asset – yet providing a holistic, consistent strategy that is also inclusive can be difficult.


Although overall employee experience consists of multiple factors including growth opportunity, trust in leadership and productive environment, one of the core pillars that can have a big impact is health and wellbeing in the workplace. 1.4 million workers suffered from work-related ill health between 2018 and 2019, and 12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related stress (Health and Safety at Work summary statistics 2019). This demonstrates that both physical and mental wellbeing are key factors that need addressing to help engage employees.

Here are our top tips on how to improve the employee experience:

Presence over presenteeism

Although absence is at an all-time low (5.9 days per employee per year), results from CIPD’s 2019 Health and Well-being at Work survey shows 83% of HR professionals have observed presenteeism in their workplace, with staff working even when they are unwell. And, even when we are well, with more and more time spent at our desks and in front of screens, taking time out from our busy schedules to recharge is often neglected.

Ensuring employees take time out of their day for themselves can not only help to reduce presenteeism, but can also increase productivity as employees return to their desk feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle their to-do lists. Providing wellness activities throughout the day such as chair massages or yoga classes can also help to address tension and musculoskeletal issues associated with desk-based working.

For example, from our Urban app data insights, we’ve learnt that the top three reasons employees cite for why they are booking a chair massage are:

  • for relaxation (25%);
  • to relieve tension (18%); and
  • to relieve pain (15%).

Listening to employees’ wellbeing needs, such as those listed above, and providing solutions to address these at work helps to create a better employee experience. Swedish bank Klarna found that, by offering a chair massage service, employees were more incentivised to come into the office regularly which led to increased productivity, more socialising and ultimately an increase in staff happiness.

Make work feel like home

Flexible working continues to rise in the UK, with over half of UK employees (54%) having worked flexibly between 2018 and 2019 (CIPD Working Lives Summary 2019 report).

However, with flexibility and home-working on the rise, a challenge employers face is to decrease isolation by creating a relaxing and motivating work environment.

Fast-growing companies such as MagicLab, Simba and Klarna have all recognised that making an office feel like home is valuable – but that each workplace has different requirements to make that a reality.

While for some that means offering group fitness classes to boost morale and connect with colleagues, others found that what staff most value is offering services they normally can’t access outside of working hours, such as hairdressing. However, the key was that by listening to employee feedback and responding with relevant health and wellness initiatives, they were able to implement a culture of caring – which has been shown to have a bigger impact (4x higher) on revenue growth compared to companies without a strong company culture, according to Forbes’ 11-year research into corporate culture and financial performance. 

Champion inclusivity – provision needs to cover both perception and uptake

All employees aren’t the same – so what they look for in a wellness initiative inevitably differs. And, as a company grows, it’s important to address these differences in order to increase engagement. In a 2018 survey measuring employee experience across seven factors, Culture Amp and Paradigm found that a sense of belonging was most strongly and consistently correlated with employee engagement.

Often, as they are acting reactively, companies may focus just on offering a single service – be this a service with fast uptake such as fitness classes, or one that is more topical such as mindfulness. However, it’s important to recognise and balance both physical and mental wellbeing to improve overall employee experience and ensuring that the initiatives are inclusive for all.

With a spectrum of ages, work habits and cultures to cater to, eBay recognised that providing a varied, all-encompassing wellness programme that had something for everyone was key to empowering staff to increase retention. Following trial sessions of various activities, eBay now offers chair massage, yoga, pilates, mindfulness and physiotherapy amongst other services, and has reported positive employee feedback on the variety of initiatives offered.

How is your organisation improving employee experience? Join the conversation on social media @UrbanappUK

This article is provided by Urban.

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