Why employee wellbeing should be at the forefront of culture

Curium | 18 Jan 2021 | News | General News, General

Why Employee wellbeing should be at the forefront of Culture by Senior Consultant, Stephanie Crane.

When I broke up for Christmas on the 22nd December I was well and truly exhausted. After months and months of being in my home / gym / office, spending most of my day looking at a screen, be that on work calls, the TV or my Peloton bike, I was desperate for something different whilst also acknowledging that in 2021 there was more of the same to come.

In the first lockdown back in March a wise lady reminded me ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ (thanks Lisa!) and that is what was at the front of my mind as I came back to work in January. I knew that to sustain my energy for the long months ahead I had to prioritise my wellbeing above anything else.

My focus on my own wellbeing has led me to consider workplace wellbeing as a whole and this is what some of my reading found:

  • Workplace wellness programmes are commonplace in most large organisations, often providing a ‘pull’ service where employees can find information to help them with their general wellbeing. However, it is estimated that only 10% of the worlds workforce have access to workplace wellness programmes and services
  • The Global Wellbeing Institute (GWI) estimates that 52% of the global workforce are overweight/obese, and 76% report they are struggling with their wellbeing. It is likely that the pandemic will have worsened the latter statistic.
  • Poor wellbeing is linked to both physical and mental health conditions and the cost of ‘unwell’ workers roughly equates to 10-15% of the global economic output.

For me, this highlights an immediate need to bring employee wellbeing to the forefront of conversation, not just as we continue to battle a global pandemic, but for the long term.

So how do we make the change?

Research shows that our individual behaviours are influenced by the people and culture around us. Organisations and their leaders need to actively promote a culture of wellbeing, as well as providing their employees with the education and resources to build their knowledge and understanding of its importance.

This can start with some simple practices. Introducing walking meetings (and actually arranging them) is an easy way to encourage more movement and fresh air. Create a team exercise challenge and award those who show the biggest improvement or a healthy recipe share. Openly encourage a work-life balance and where employees regularly work more than their standard day, discuss how this could be addressed. It could be to identify a training need or a genuine resourcing issue, which as an employer it is your responsibility to resolve rather than ignore.

Investment is also required to foster a culture of wellbeing. Developing leaders coaching capabilities to better support employees in their team will help build long term capabilities across the team. Employee wellbeing workshops will build awareness and support them with implementing lifestyle changes to enhance their wellbeing. Implement a weekly wellness hour where employees take time to invest in their wellbeing, in a self-determined way.

Employees also have some responsibility too. Whilst organisations can make wellbeing a priority, taking the right steps and making the right choices comes down to the individual. It is all to easy to make excuses to not do something today, which turns into this week, this month and so on. Wellness requires individuals to be proactive, intentional, and responsible. No one knows better than you, what you need to feel well.

But perhaps the biggest step on the wellbeing journey is the feeling of empowerment and that is where the workplace can step up. Organisations need to shift the corporate mindset from passive to proactive and bring wellbeing to the top of the agenda in an open, honest, and consistent way. Make wellbeing part of your corporate DNA and you will create a sustainable future with a workforce that feels invested in and in turn will invest in you.

I have made a few wellbeing commitments to myself to kick off and continue with in 2021. The first is to move every day and to remind myself that this does not have to be maximum effort – more Yoga is on the cards. The other is to take a lunch break to go outside in the daylight, even if I am busy or its grey and dreary. What commitments will you make? I’d love to hear how you are getting on.

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