Wellness and wellbeing – What companies can do to support employees

Supporting employee wellness during stressful times.

With a cost-of-living crisis and one month deep into winter, it could be easy to feel as though there is added stress everywhere. 2023 is an election year, with ongoing reminders of the pandemic and interest rates on the move – it can be easy to understand how this could affect employee culture in your company.

When there is an underlying level of stress in society, it’s important that organisations take care of their employees and employee health. They can do this by providing practical support to them to ensure that workplace stress is kept in check and considered.

This blog provides some practical tips for employers to provide support to their employees and achieve higher employee retention.

Enhance Communication

Maintain open and transparent communication channels by regularly updating employees about the company’s situation, any changes, and future plans. Also make sure you address concerns and provide opportunities for employees to share their thoughts and suggestions.

Recognise that employees may be dealing with personal and financial stress by being understanding and empathetic towards their individual challenges. Encourage your managers to have regular one on one conversations with their teams to offer support and hear their concerns regularly.

Whilst it’s important to acknowledge challenges, maintain a positive outlook and provide hope for the future. Share success stories, updates on recovery efforts, and express confidence in the company’s ability to weather the storm.

Flexible Work Arrangements

When possible, offer flexible work arrangements, such as days working from home or flexi hours. This can help employees manage personal responsibilities, reduce commuting stress, and maintain work-life balance.

Flexible work arrangements can significantly contribute to employees feeling better and experiencing improved well-being.

You can encourage work-life balance by implementing policies such as flexible working hours, remote work options, or compressed workweeks. Promote the importance of taking breaks, unplugging from work, and setting boundaries to prevent burnout.

Flexibility allows employees to better balance their work and personal responsibilities. They can adjust their work schedule to accommodate family commitments, personal appointments, or pursue personal interests. This balance reduces stress and enhances overall well-being.

Flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or alternative work hours, can help employees avoid rush hour traffic and long commutes. This reduction in commuting stress can lead to increased relaxation and improved mental well-being.

Flexible work arrangements often provide employees with more control over their work environment and schedule. This increased autonomy can boost job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement.

Some employees thrive in non-traditional work settings or outside typical office hours. Flexible work arrangements allow employees to work during their most productive hours, which can lead to increased efficiency and job satisfaction.

Flexible work options can improve employee wellbeing by preventing burnout by giving them the opportunity to rest, recharge, and achieve a better work-life balance. It enables them to better manage their workload and prevent prolonged stress.

Employees who have flexible work arrangements often demonstrate increased levels of loyalty and job satisfaction resulting in a better workplace culture. They are more likely to stay with the organisation, reducing turnover and associated costs.

Flexibility in work arrangements can attract a more diverse workforce by supporting individuals with different needs, like working parents, caregivers, or those with specific health conditions. This also leads to a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

By providing flexible work options, organisations can better adapt to unforeseen circumstances, such as weather disruptions or emergencies. This flexibility helps maintain productivity and employee morale during challenging times.

It’s important for employers to establish clear guidelines, communication channels, and performance expectations when implementing flexible work arrangements. This ensures a balance between employee well-being and organisational needs while maintaining effective teamwork and collaboration.

Mental Health Support

Provide mental health and well-being support by providing resources including information about employee assistance options, counselling services, and access to mental health support.

Support your team’s mental well-being by offering stress management workshops, mindfulness or meditation sessions, or access to mental health apps. Providing information about mental health resources will help promote open and safe conversations around mental health.

You could also offer confidential counselling services through external providers, to assist employees with personal or work-related challenges.

Training and Development

Investing in employees’ professional growth by providing training and development opportunities shows your commitment to their future and will help boost morale during challenging times. It is also a great way to keep your employees within the business and improve staff retention.

By arranging sessions on health topics including stress management, nutrition, sleep hygiene, and disease prevention it’ll provide ways for your team to get the support they need to manage their wellbeing.

Recognition and Team Connection

Recognise and appreciate employees’ efforts and achievements. Celebrate milestones and successes as a team, both big and small. Show gratitude through verbal appreciation, written notes, or rewards programs to boost morale.

Encourage team-building activities to foster a sense of teamwork and support. Arrange virtual or in-person events, such as team lunches, game nights, or volunteering activities. This helps create a positive work environment and reduces feelings of isolation.

Employee Wellness Policy

 Wellness programs should be designed with the input and needs of employees in mind to foster a positive workplace culture. Regularly gather feedback to ensure they are making a positive impact on employee wellness.

According to the 2022 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report by Wellable Labs, 76% of companies are investing more in stress management and resilience resources for their employees. Organisations with comprehensive wellness programs can be more appealing to prospective employees.

Implementing wellness programs show that your company values and cares about its employees well-being and work culture. This fosters a positive organisational culture, leading to increased employee satisfaction and retention. They’re a win win for culture.

We’ve written previously about how organisations can create official Wellness Policies within their business and what a policy might include.

Offering benefits within these policies that focus on physical health, such as gym memberships or discounts, provide a great remedy for employee stress. Encouraging walking meetings to promote a healthy lifestyle is also a great way to get the energy moving in the team.

You could also provide health services including blood pressure or cholesterol tests and flu jabs by partnering with healthcare providers to offer health assessments and treatments or  promote healthy eating habits by organising nutrition workshops and providing access to nutritionists or dietitians for consultations. Supporting this by offering healthy snack options in the office or providing discounts for healthy food delivery services is another great way to support your employees.

Organise wellness challenges that encourage employees to adopt healthy habits – like charity run teams. You could also run steps challenges or hydration goals and offer incentives such as rewards, gift cards, or extra time off for participation and achievement.

Europlan introduced a wellness program for all staff in 2022 and we spoke to a couple of the team to discover how they’d used the benefits available and what the impact was.

Emma Bell-Norris– Brand and Marketing Manager

Europlan has long understood the need for flexible work arrangements, for the 14 years I’ve worked here we’ve been a largely untethered workforce. Originally borne from the need to keep our front facing and leadership teams agile, it now forms a big part of our organisational culture and wellness program.

As part of the senior leadership team, I see it as critical to demonstrate my use of our wellness values to encourage others within our business to do the same.

I’ve completely immersed myself into the wellness assistance Europlan offers. Flexible working, learning and development, mental health support, I’ve grabbed at it all to build healthy muscle and extra scaffolding into all pillars of my existence.

I’m pretty good at looking after myself in general terms but sometimes you experience a couple of outrageously unexpected life events, a global pandemic, and your Instagram algorithm is relentlessly implying you have undiagnosed ADHD. And you think, sure, I’ll book a proactive wellness day, heck yes, I’ll take those three free therapy sessions and I’ll absolutely accept that one off financial contribution to my gym membership.

What I appreciate about our philosophy on workplace wellness is that it’s becoming part of our organisational DNA and it’s creating a productive, healthy, and empathetic workplace. For everyone to embrace! 

In discussions with my colleague Tim Gunther, we speak about moving from a B2B focus on how we work, towards a H2H approach – human to human. As of right now, humans are still very much part of the workforce, connection matters.

The best thing an organisation can do is create workplaces that don’t make people sick in the first place. Emotionally, physically and psychologically. Put in place tangible measures to track the wellness journey within your business and have a range of impactful benefits for staff. Individuals will have a variety of needs and it’s smart to have a flexible and bespoke approach to wellness and how you support your people.”

Tim Gunther – Workplace Solutions Manager

Life happens, and when it does its been good to know that Europlan as a company (and its people) will support me when I am going through stormy patches that we all experience sometimes. I have learnt that the more I share what’s happening, the better supported I can be so not to be afraid to speak. I’ve used the external support services available to me in recent times, which has allowed me to unpack some of the things around me in a confidential manner.

Talking and sharing has definitely helped me work though some of these struggles, and often just verbalising them out-loud has led me to find new insight into the challenge. The flexibility to work from home in my job has been an added bonus, allowing me to help support my family too when needed. Europlan also make sure I have all the great furniture I need (of course!) to be comfortable and productive.

I was fortunate enough to be asked for ideas to develop our current wellbeing policy, and I was both pleased (and a little surprised) when my ideas were incorporated into the policy – Birthday leave and bookable wellness days.

If companies are thinking about developing their own policies, it’s easier than people think, the key thing is just to make a start, and work on it until it evolves into a solid foundation. Asking for ideas from your staff also means they are contributing to the overall wellness of the staff around them.

I have previously worked for organisations that sadly had little or no support offering for employees, which of course meant there was a feeling that they were less interested in looking after the wellbeing of their employees.” 

Remember, each workplace is unique, so adapt these tips to suit your company culture and the specific needs of your employees. By demonstrating support during stressful times, you can foster a sense of loyalty, enhance employee well-being, and improve staff retention rates.

Ultimately, by prioritising employee well-being and implementing these practical tips, employers can create a supportive and thriving work environment, leading to higher employee satisfaction, improved retention, and a stronger, more resilient workforce.

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