An employers’ guide to strategically managing employee wellbeing

Posted on 11th January 2017

If you take a look around at business priorities in January, you’re likely to find that many leaders are paying lip service to improving wellbeing amongst their staff.

It’s fairly easy to roll out some quick wins, like introducing healthier options in the canteen, and organising lunchtime walks, and it’s true that these things can be successful. But if you want to make deep changes that will have long-term benefits, you need to think about how you can update your overall strategies and company culture for the better.

And here’s the thing. Putting health and wellbeing on your agenda isn’t just something that’s ‘nice to do’. It makes good business sense. From attracting and keeping the right people, through to making sure that you’re staff are motivated and productive, the benefits can be plentiful.

So let’s take a look at some of the areas that you need to be addressing on with your leadership team.

Focus on prevention rather than cure

Poor health and wellbeing isn’t something that can be effectively managed by sticking an Elastoplast over the problem. If you’re serious about creating a healthier and happier workforce, then you need to start right at the very beginning. How can you help your workers to reduce the risk of common illnesses, ailments, and conditions?

There are many options here, though it’s worth noting that it’s often about taking a long-term view, rather than just dipping your toes into some quick-fix tactics. You may be able to organise annual wellness visits, for example, and give staff the option to be screened and vaccinated.

Engage via education

Sure, you can roll out provisions that will make it easier for your staff to eat well, get their five-a-day, exercise more, and so on. But if you want to make long-lasting changes that are truly embraced, you’re going to have to go much deeper.

It’s important that your staff understand what you’re doing, and what the benefits are likely to be, for themselves as individuals, for the wider team, and for the business and its future potential. The only answer here is education. Inform your staff, get them involved, and ensure they have a vested interest in the success of your wellbeing initiatives. Consider, for example, whether your staff know what their BMI is, and how they can make better decisions in the supermarket.

Recognise that it’s not just an HR issue

You might think that employee wellbeing is the concern of the HR team. If you don’t have in-house provisions for this, you might think that the only option is to bring in a consultant. It’s true that some external help could make a big difference for you, but it’s vital that you look at the bigger picture.

Wellbeing concerns everyone in your workforce, from the business owners through to the new temporary recruit. It’s also an issue that needs to be tackled by each business function. When it comes down to it, every leader will have to play their role. You may need marketing and communications support to ensure that it’s well received. The finance team will have a vested interest in ensuring that projects are delivered within budgetary constraints. If you want to maximise your chances of success, you’re going to have to consider wellbeing as a business-wide issue.

Overall business strategy can be a hard thing to do, especially when existing ways of doing things are already engrained into company culture. Sometimes though, it’s worth going the extra mile.

If you’d like more information on wellness initiatives in the workplace, Gateway would love to help. Just give us a call on 01536 215240.

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director