Wellbeing initiatives don't have to cost the earth
4th January 2018 | Debbie Mitchell
Free resources can make a big difference
The topic of wellbeing can be an intimidating one for many of us – whether we are talking about our own, or the wellbeing of others. We are faced with a range of headlines that may include mental health, obesity, workplace stress or serious physical illness. And the concern can often be an uncertainty in how to help people – or ourselves – with such challenges, and a lack of confidence in how to talk about it. As a result, the risk is we don’t talk about it, particularly as employers or managers, where we may fear saying the wrong thing, or taking the wrong action.
Much of this is true. A great deal of care should be taken when addressing some issues associated with employee wellbeing, and specialists may need to be engaged for certain issues. However, as managers of people, there are so many things that we can do to boost employee wellbeing.
According to research carried out by BMG just 13% of small or medium sized businesses of up to 250 employees have a wellbeing strategy (overall across all company sizes it’s just 28%), and this matters because those organisations that do have one see greater levels of engagement, and we know that leads to improved business performance. And not only that – research has also shown that successful Health Promotion programmes can help to reduce sickness absence by up to 25%.
The concern for small or medium sized business could be about the cost of initiatives and the time they take – either to implement and have effect, or the time taken away from an important day job, as well as a lack of knowledge or expertise. In 50 Top Tools for Employee Wellbeing, I have tried to address each of these issues, and provide tools that can be applicable across all types of organisation, without big budgets and without specialist expertise. Some of the tools may require a bit of both, but in the main, there are some simple ideas, fresh thinking and common-sense approaches that might benefit employer and employee in advocating healthier working habits. As the author, I am certainly not an expert on positive mental health or diet and nutrition, and so I have stayed away from the specialist subjects where experts will be beneficial. Instead, I have focussed on the everyday things we can do as people managers and employees to improve our own wellbeing – from the small stuff like taking in some fresh air or providing healthy snack options, to the bigger stuff like the working environment and how we deal with conflict.
Keeping it simple doesn’t mean cutting corners or taking the cheap route. Instead it is about taking what action you can rather than doing nothing, to support employees or yourself, in advocating and working towards improved wellbeing at work. Throwing money at the problem isn’t always the answer. Often, just by using free resources – talking, time, listening, fresh air, walking – you can make a big difference.
We’d love to hear your examples and stories of the simple things that have made a big difference to your wellbeing at work.
About the author: Debbie Mitchell is an organizational development consultant specializing in employee engagement, coaching ,talent management, change and HR support. She is the author of 50 Tops Tools for Employee Engagement and 50 Top Tools for Employee Wellbeing, both published by Kogan Page. She works with businesses both locally and internationally that include consumer electronics, FMCGs, pharmaceuticals as well as those in the transportation, insurance, not for profit and education sectors. Prior to this, Debbie held in-house HR and OD roles for British American Tobacco for 10 years, and has experience of HR roles in retail, public sector and manufacturing.
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