By Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty
The focus on employee wellness has traditionally been on their physical well-being and the prevention of absenteeism, but this is starting to change and a growing number of employers now realise that physical health is only one component when talking about healthy and well-functioning employees.
This shift has been accelerated by the outbreak of Covid-10 with employers noticing the impact of the resultant stress on employee wellbeing – and the effect it has had on their performance, and consequently, on the company’s bottom line.
Ultimately, it’s becoming more and more obvious that employee health affects more than just medical costs; that there is a direct correlation between a holistically healthy workforce and a productive workforce.
What is also becoming evident is that, although we are all responsible for our own health, employers play an important role as well as a tremendous opportunity to assist their employees in realising the value of adopting healthier behaviours so they can lead healthier lives.
And this is where a healthy and supportive workplace culture is so important; one where a sound wellness strategy is reinforced and encouraged will not only benefit the employees but also the company in several compelling ways:
- Increased employee engagement – research has shown that in companies with employee wellness programmes, staff feel more connected, their health is improved and they generally feel happier. These factors, along with recognition and constructive feedback practices, all contribute to higher employee engagement levels.
- Improved employee morale – if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of maintaining or raising staff morale and, by introducing wellbeing initiatives such as mental health workshops or fitness programmes among departments or teams, you can significantly improve your employees’ morale.
- Attracting the most talented workers – companies that are seen to care for their employees and offer additional benefits like wellness programmes will always attract the best candidates.
- Reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs – we all know the old adage, “prevention is better than cure” and it’s very apt in the workplace because the knock-on costs of stressed employees, burnout and preventable diseases are a lot higher than preventative programmes at the end of the day.
Over and above the implementation of wellness programmes, there are a number of ways that employers can – and should – ensure the wellbeing of their employees:
- Recognise their work and their efforts – employees will always feel more satisfied and fulfilled in their jobs if their hard work and dedication is appreciated and recognised and a culture of appreciation will also further empower and encourage employees. It’s also a good idea to establish rewards platforms as it gives them something to strive towards.
- Facilitate seamless communication – with remote work now the norm, although it works on many levels it also disrupts many aspects, including communication and collaboration/teamwork. By ensuring that the channels of communication are always open, working correctly and that they include everyone, you can alleviate one of the main sources of work-related stress.
- Listen to your employees – when people have grievances that are not addressed, they start to feel that their opinions don’t matter, but when you take the time to hear about issues or listen to their recommendations, they will feel like valued members of staff which automatically raises morale and wellbeing.
- Give regular and timely feedback – when you regularly give your employees feedback, they feel that their work and their growth in the company matters. Furthermore, feedback will enable them to learn, work better, continue learning and feel as though their career is on track and advancing.
- Show empathy – having empathy and compassion for your employees humanises your workplace and creates an emotional bond that automatically makes it a better place to work for everyone.
Although the pandemic has wreaked havoc on so many aspects of our lives, one silver lining is that it has undoubtedly turned the spotlight on the importance of mental wellbeing and this will lead to better understanding and more empathy in the workplace.
Employers have already begun focusing less on specific physical health conditions and more on the importance of holistic health with a focus being on prevention rather than cure.
The costs of employee disengagement, absenteeism and healthcare are too high to be ignored and I believe that very soon we will start seeing more diversified employee wellbeing benefits and programmes in the workplace.
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