By Dr Adam Greenfield, workplace wellbeing expert and the co-founder of WorkLifeWell
In today’s world, workplace wellbeing has evolved from a nice-to-have to an essential part of an organisation’s operations. However, many businesses still struggle to understand the significance of planning and strategising their wellbeing offerings, instead adopting more of a stab in the dark approach. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically complicated the challenge by creating a hybrid workforce that demands an adapted, more bespoke approach to wellbeing. Furthermore, with higher business costs and a volatile economy, businesses are faced with providing wellbeing services on even tighter budgets.
Research published in April 2022 from the CIPD suggested that just over half of businesses (51%) adopt a strategic approach to workplace wellbeing. However, it is clear that working with a strategy is important as it was mostly these businesses that showed higher reported positive outcomes from their activities both at an individual as well as an organisational level.
So how do businesses create an effective wellbeing strategy, taking into account lower profit margins while also tailoring their programs to meet the needs of both office and remote workers? This can be achieved by adopting a 3-‘D’ framework – Discover, Design, and Deliver.
In the Discovery phase, organisations should conduct a survey or focus group to gather information on the physical, mental, social and even financial health concerns of their employees. It is useful to divide the data collection into three groups: exclusively office-based, exclusively home-based, and hybrid. This approach will help businesses understand the unique challenges and needs of each group and tailor their wellbeing strategy accordingly.
The Design phase involves creating a comprehensive wellbeing program that addresses the comments and concerns raised in the data collection phase. The information can be reorganised by dividing the answers into physical, mental, social and financial categories which will help identify key problem areas affecting the workforce. The initiatives must be tailored to meet the wants and needs of the team, and remote employees must be given equal attention. Leaders need to consider a broad range of initiatives, including financial planning, health education programs, nutrition and exercise programs, mental health support services, health-focussed workshops and even social activities. The organisation needs to consider whether the planned initiatives will enable maximum participation and engagement from all employees irrespective of their location.
In the Delivery phase, the wellbeing offering must be communicated clearly to all employees, both in-house and remote. Regular reminders and links to what’s on offer can make it easily accessible to all and vitally, create maximum engagement. Businesses should also monitor and adjust their strategy based on employee feedback.
Wellbeing at work – does it pay?
Return on investment is more than just about money when it comes to wellbeing provisions. First and foremost, research shows that employees who are happy and healthy are more engaged and productive, leading to improved business outcomes. In 2020, Deloitte concluded in their research that costs to UK employers for poor mental health in the workplace had risen an extra 16%. More positively, they also showed that for every £1 spent on mental health provisions there was a £5 return. Not only this, but research also demonstrates that companies with well-established wellbeing offerings report lower levels of absenteeism and improved staff retention. Furthermore, offering wellbeing has been shown to create a positive culture in the workplace and can improve the company brand.
Sustaining a wellbeing offering:
The next challenge, having created a wellbeing strategy, is maintaining the momentum. Often companies start with the best of intentions and then as time goes by their attention wanes towards the next urgent item on the list. Sustaining a wellbeing strategy requires ongoing effort and commitment from both the leadership and all employees. Regularly measuring and evaluating the impact of the wellbeing provisions and initiatives can help identify areas for improvement and determine what is working well and what is not. Metrics may include employee satisfaction, productivity, absenteeism rates, and healthcare costs. It is also essential to continuously improve and adapt the wellbeing strategy. Ensure that this is being monitored and adjusted so that the offerings remain relevant and effective. Regular communication and promotion of wellbeing programs and initiatives will help to keep employees engaged and motivated.
In summary, businesses can create an effective wellbeing strategy by using the 3-‘D’ framework and tailoring it to meet the needs of a workforce. In order to sustain the strategy in the workplace requires ongoing effort, commitment and investment but, by doing so, businesses can improve their workplace culture, prioritise employee satisfaction, enhance employee retention, and reduce absenteeism.
Dr Adam Greenfield is a Doctor of Chiropractic, workplace wellbeing expert and the co-founder of WorkLifeWell