A Holistic Approach to Employee Wellbeing
26th January 2018 | Debbie Mitchell
Employee wellbeing is more than just physical (a description of the different wellbeing factors that organizations should consider). The CIPD identifies five ‘domains’ of wellbeing – health, work, values/principles, personal growth and collective/social - and considers them from both an individual and a collective/organizational perspective. This model supports the view that wellbeing is about more than just mental or physical health, but encompasses wider issues that may ultimately have an effect on one or both of those.
In 50 Top Tools for Employee Wellbeing, I cover a number of the facets of employee wellbeing, providing simple and practical ideas and initiatives that can encourage organizations, managers, and team members to adopt and advocate a holistic approach to wellbeing at work.
The facets included in the book are:
Leadership & Advocacy
I recognise that the approach that leaders take to wellbeing in organizations can be a wellbeing factor in itself. How they talk about, advocate and address issues of wellbeing will all be seen and felt by employees. Leading from the front is critical – in words and in action.
Employees want to be assured that there are options for them to develop their skills, progress their career, to be recognized for their workplace achievements, and to be connected to the organization’s overall goals and aims. Making sure you have mutually beneficial and practical policy and practice in place for these factors is a contributor to wellbeing.
Whilst organizations and their people managers may not have a strong influence over their employees’ health or their lifestyle choices, they can take some actions or decisions that might encourage and enable different choices through availability of options, from food choices to support healthy diet, accessibility of a variety of activity options for all levels of ability and enthusiasm, travelling healthily on business, to relaxation techniques.
Workplace mental health is a significant issue in business, but it is also a complex and sensitive one that may require medical or specialist intervention. However, leaders and team members can be equipped with coping strategies and easily implementable techniques or approaches to ease mental strain at work.
The working environment can play a big role in employee wellbeing. Factors such as layout, light, noise, and colour can influence mood and temperament as well as efficiency and performance.
An employee’s wellbeing can be heavily impacted by conflicting demands on their time and availability. With 1 in 8 employees also acting as unpaid carers, flexibility about how, when and where they work can be a valuable benefit.
Given that people typically spend one-third of their lives at work, issues such as inclusion, community, and collective activities can help to provide an environment where employees can feel comfortable, relaxed and sociable, having fun, but remains productive.
Financial wellbeing can have a significant impact on the overall wellbeing of employees. Financial awareness training can be valuable, but also flexibility in benefits allocations and pre-retirement planning can help employees to balance the books and be prepared for their future.
Whilst any one of the above will deliver some benefit alone, there will be accumulative advantage in a broader programme that implements tools from the spectrum of the facets, and so 50 Top Tools for Employee Wellbeing includes information about how to put together a wellbeing strategy, a programme of action, and which tools in the book are particularly supportive of each other. Whatever strategy companies identify, it is important to cover the breadth of wellbeing. Otherwise they risk focussing too heavily on one or two facets, which might result in disregard or detriment of other, equally important, issues.